Iraq Arms Row Swirls After Kay Says Beliefs 'Wrong'
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By Joseph Logan

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Former chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay said the belief Iraq (news - web sites) had weapons of mass destruction was wrong, as both the United States and Britain grappled with controversy over why they went to war against Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

 
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Kay spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) on Wednesday while in Iraq a suicide bomber killed three people when he rammed a car packed with explosives into a Baghdad hotel.

 

"Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here," Kay said in his first public appearance on Capitol Hill since stepping down last week.

 

"I believe that the effort that has been directed to this point has been sufficiently intense that it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons there."

 

With U.S. presidential elections due in November, Democrats trying to unseat Republican President Bush (news - web sites) are using evidence such as Kay's to try to make a case that the White House exaggerated intelligence to go to war -- waged to rid Iraq of what Washington said was an arsenal of banned weapons.

 

In Britain, Bush's staunchest ally in the war against Iraq, Tony Blair (news - web sites), cleared the second hurdle of his toughest week in power on Wednesday when a judge said the prime minister bore no blame for the suicide of a top Iraq weapons expert.

 

Although the report by senior judge Lord Hutton for the most part exonerated Blair, it did not rule on the merits of the war and many Britons remain unconvinced of whether it was justified.

 

SUICIDE ATTACK

 

In Iraq, a South African contractor and two Iraqis were killed and at least 10 others were wounded in the suicide attack on the Shaheen Hotel.

 

U.S. military spokesmen and security guards said the bomber used a white vehicle painted with Red Crescent symbols, giving it the appearance of an ambulance. The bomber also died.

 

The attack followed a string of deadly strikes on U.S. soldiers and other targets, and as controversy reverberated from Baghdad to Washington over Shi'ite demands for early elections to transfer power to Iraqis by June 30.

 

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) said if Iraq was deemed safe he would send a team to Iraq to study the feasibility of early polls. An advance U.N. team arrived in Iraq on Tuesday ahead of a possible mission, U.N. sources said.

 

Early elections have been demanded by Iraq's most revered Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has challenged the U.S. plan for regional caucuses to pick a transitional assembly. He says Iraqis should pick their leaders in direct elections.

 

At a news conference at the European Commission (news - web sites)'s headquarters in Brussels, Annan said the U.N. would do its best to end the row over whether elections were possible this year.

 

"But...it's the Iraqis who have to take things in hand. If the Iraqis can agree on a mechanism to create a provisional government, it could help everyone," he said. "If they don't... I fear the conflicts and divisions will continue."

 

Adnan Pachachi, current head of the Governing Council appointed by the U.S. in Iraq after Saddam was ousted last April, said the United Nations (news - web sites) would be asked to run a census and help assemble voter rolls.

 

U.S. troops captured Saddam in December.




Rove e-mailed security official about CIA talk By John Solomon, Associated Press WASHINGTON Prosecutors investigating a CIA officer's blown cover gathered e-mail evidence that a top White House intelligence official knew Bush confidant Karl Rove had spoken to a reporter just days before the journalist identified the covert operative.

Rove told then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley in the July 11, 2003, e-mail that he had spoken with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper and tried to caution him away from some allegations that CIA operative Valerie Plame's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence. "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in the message, disclosed to The Associated Press. In the memo, Rove recounted how Cooper tried to question him about whether President Bush had been hurt by the new allegations Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had been making. The White House turned the e-mail over to prosecutors, and Rove told a grand jury about it last year during testimony in which he also acknowledged discussing Plame's covert work for the CIA with Cooper and syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Rove, however, told the grand jury he first learned of Plame's CIA work from journalists, not government sources. Just days before the e-mail, Plame's husband had written a newspaper opinion piece accusing the Bush administration of twisting prewar Iraq intelligence, including a "highly doubtful" report that Saddam Hussein bought nuclear materials from the African country of Niger. "Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote Hadley, who has since risen to the top job of national security adviser. "When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this." Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Hadley, said Friday he could not comment due to the continuing criminal investigation. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client answered all the questions prosecutors asked during three grand jury appearances. He said Rove never invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or Bush's executive privilege guaranteeing confidential advice from aides. Rove, Bush's closest adviser, told a grand jury the e-mail was consistent with his recollection that his intention in talking with Cooper wasn't to divulge Plame's identity but to caution the reporter against certain allegations Plame's husband was making, according to legal professionals familiar with Rove's testimony. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the grand jury investigation. Rove sent the e-mail shortly before leaving the White House early for a family vacation that weekend, already aware that Novak was planning an article about Plame and Wilson in his column, the legal sources said. Rove also knew that then-CIA director George Tenet was about to issue a dramatic statement that took responsibility for some bad Iraq intelligence but that also called into question some of Wilson's assertions, the sources said. Republicans cheered the latest revelations Friday, saying they showed Rove wasn't trying to hurt Plame but instead was trying to informally warn reporters to be cautious about some of Wilson's claims. "What it says is, Karl Rove wasn't the leaker, he was actually the recipient of the information, not the provider," Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman said on Fox News. "So there are probably a lot of folks in Washington who have prejudged this, who have rushed to judgment who are trying to smear Karl Rove." Democrats, however, said that even if Rove wasn't the leaker, someone still divulged Plame's identity and possibly violated the law. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders asked House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Friday to let Congress hold hearings into the controversy regardless of the criminal probe now under way. "In previous Republican Congresses the fact that a criminal investigation was under way did not prevent extensive hearings from being held on other, much less significant matters," Pelosi wrote. Federal law prohibits government officials from divulging the identity of an undercover intelligence officer. But in order to bring charges, prosecutors must prove the official knew the officer was covert and nonetheless knowingly divulged his or her identity. Rove's conversations with Novak and Cooper took place just days after Wilson suggested in his opinion piece in The New York Times that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was used to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. Summarizing a trip he made to Africa on behalf of the CIA, Wilson wrote that he'd concluded it was highly doubtful the nation of Niger had sold uranium yellowcake to Iraq. Tenet issued a lengthy statement five days later saying he never should have allowed Bush to use the Niger information in his State of the Union address but that Wilson's report did not resolve whether Iraq was seeking uranium from abroad.
<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050508/ap_en_ot/michael_jackson_victim_5">Mohammed portrays those two hijackers as central to the plot

Mohammed portrays those two hijackers as central to the plot, and even more important than Mohammed Atta, initially identified by Americans as the likely hijacking ringleader. Mohammed said he communicated with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar while they were in the United States by using Internet chat software, the reports state.
Mohammed said al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were among the four original operatives bin Laden assigned to him for the plot, a significant revelation because those were the only two hijackers whom U.S. authorities were frantically seeking for terrorist ties in the final days before Sept. 11.
U.S. authorities continue to investigate the many statements that Mohammed has made in interrogations, seeking to eliminate deliberate misinformation. But they have been able to corroborate with other captives and evidence much of his account of the Sept. 11 planning.

SAUDIS SELECTED
Mohammed told his interrogators the hijacking teams were originally made up of members from different countries where al-Qaida had recruited, but that in the final stages bin Laden chose instead to use a large group of young Saudi men to populate the hijacking teams. 
As the plot came closer to fruition, Mohammed learned \ldblquote there was a large group of Saudi operatives that would be available to participate as the muscle in the plot to hijack planes in the United States,\rdblquote one report says Mohammed told his captors.
Saudi Arabia was bin Laden home, though it revoked his citizenship in the 1990s, and he reviled its alliance with the United States during the Gulf War and beyond. Saudis have suggested for months that bin Laden has been trying to drive a wedge between the United States and their kingdom, hoping to fracture the alliance.
U.S. intelligence has suggested that Saudis were chosen, instead, because there were large numbers willing to follow bin Laden and they could more easily get into the United States because of the countries  friendly relations.
Mohammed interrogation report states he told Americans some of the original operatives assigned to the plot did not make it because they had trouble getting into the United States.

CIA INTERROGATING
Mohammed was captured in a March 1 raid by Pakistani forces and CIA operatives in Rawalpindi. He is being interrogated by the CIA at an undisclosed location.
He told interrogators about other terror plots that were in various stages of planning or had been temporarily disrupted when he was captured, including one planned for Singapore.
The sources who allowed AP to review the reports insisted that specific details not be divulged about those operations because U.S. intelligence continues to investigate some of the methods and search for some of the operatives.
The interrogation reports make dramatically clear that Mohammed and al-Qaida were still actively looking to strike U.S., Western and Israeli targets across the world as of this year.

SEPT. 11 ORIGINS\par
Mohammed told his interrogators he had worked in 1994 and 1995 in the Philippines with Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah on the foiled Bojinka plot to blow up 12 Western airliners simultaneously in Asia.
The U.S. official who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity said the Sept. 11 plan was a revision of plans Mohammed and Yousef, his nephew, tried to put together in the Philippines.


Mohammed said through the various iterations of the plot, he considered using a scaled-down version of the Bojinka plan that would have bombed commercial airliners, and that he even contemplated attempting to down the planes using shoe bombs, one report said.
The plot, he said, eventually evolved into hijacking a small number of planes in the United States and East Asia and either having them explode or crash into targets simultaneously, the reports stated.
By 1999, the four original operatives picked for the plot traveled to Afghanistan to train at one of bin Lade camps. The focus, Mohammed said, was on specialized commando training, not piloting jets.
Mohammed  interrogations have revealed the planning and training of operatives was extraordinarily meticulous, including how to blend into American society, read telephone yellow pages, and research airline schedules.
A key event in the plot, Mohammed told his interrogators, was a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 2000, that included al-Mihdhar, al-Hazmi and other al-Qaida operatives. The CIA learned of the meeting beforehand and had it monitored by Malaysian security, but it did not realize the significance of the two eventual hijackers until just before the attacks

ASIA ATTACK DROPPED
The interrogation reports state bin Laden further trimmed Mohammed  plans in spring 2000 when he canceled the idea for hijackings in East Asia, thus narrowing it to the United States. Bin Laden thought   it would be too difficult to synchronize attacks in the United States and Asia, one interrogation report quotes Mohammed as saying.
Mohammed said around that time he reached out to an al-Qaida linked group in southeast Asia known as Jemaah Islamiyah. He began  recruiting JI operatives for inclusion in the hijacking plot as part of his second wave of hijacking attacks to occur after Sept. 11,  one summary said.
Later, Hambali operative began training possible recruits for the second wave, according to the interrogation report.
One of those who received training in Malaysia before coming to the United States was Zacarias Moussaoui, the Frenchman accused of conspiring with the Sept. 11 attacks. Moussaoui has denied being part of the Sept. 11 plot, and U.S. and foreign intelligence officials have said he could have been set for hijacking a plane in a later wave of attacks.


Printer-Friendly Version Moral Values Important Issue to Voters By Jimmy Moore Talon News November 4, 2004 WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- In a presidential campaign focused primarily on the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq, and the economy, voters instead chose moral values as the most important issue to them in the 2004 election which contributed significantly to the reelection of President George W. Bush. Bush, who touted his support for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage as between a man and a woman and for preserving and honoring the sanctity of life during his campaign, was selected by over 80 percent of voters who chose moral values as their top issue. The economy and terrorism were close behind in second and third respectively, according to exit polls.
"It is clear that values voters have ushered President George W. Bush down the aisle for a second term," remarked Family Research Council head Tony Perkins on Wednesday. In the so-called swing states, Bush received three times as many votes as Kerry did from people who identified themselves as evangelical Christians. Exit polls show that one in five voters were described as people of faith, a strong conservative voting bloc that undoubtedly assured Bush of his reelection.
"God bless you for exercising your right to vote and God bless the United States of America as we continue our work in being salt and light," Perkins concluded.