04 June 2003

US intelligence failure in Iraq?

It is possible that American forces could still come up with evidence of an Iraqi programme for developing weapons of mass destruction. But thus far there have been no smoking guns. This is causing some in the US to wonder whether the CIA's national intelligence estimate, released last October, might have overestimated the Iraqi threat. Might there have been pressure put on the intelligence community to produce a report conforming to the Bush administration's preconceived view of Iraq's military potential? Many think so, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Spy report on Iraq's weapons questioned: Intelligence estimate may have been wrong."

If it was indeed wrong, this would put the US/British action in Iraq in further doubt under international law, apparently vindicating those nations taking a more cautious approach to that country.

On the other hand, it is difficult to argue in retrospect that Iraq would have been better off if Saddam Hussein had been left in place. Perhaps the old adage applies to the American and British venture there: it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

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