David Kay, the outgoing chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq says it is not likely
that any large stockpiles of banned weapons will be found in Iraq. Mr. Kay has
blamed intelligence failures for what he now says is the mistaken belief that
Saddam Hussein had chemical or biological weapons.
David Kay was sent into Iraq after major combat operations had ended last
May, charged with finding the nuclear, chemical or biological weapons that
the United States said posed a threat to the world.
"My summary view, based on what I've seen, is that we're very unlikely to
find large stockpiles of weapons," he said. "I don't think they exist."
President Bush used Saddam Hussein's refusal to verify disarmament - as demanded
by the United Nations - to justify his decision to go to war. But after months
of searches that have turned up evidence of weapons programs - but no actual
weapons - David Kay tells National Public Radio the U.S. intelligence community
owes the White House an apology.
"You have to remember that this view of Iraq was held during the Clinton
administration and didn't change in the Bush administration," he said. "It
is not a political 'gotcha' issue. It is a serious issue of how you could come
to the conclusion that is not matched by the future."
In response to the Kay comments, Secretary of State Colin Powell says it's now
an open question whether Iraq actually had banned weapons before the U.S.-led
invasion. He spoke to reporters while visiting Moscow Monday.
"Saddam Hussein had the intention of having weapons of mass destruction,
had weapons of mass destruction programs, had weapons which he had used in
the past and we believed he had every possibility of having such weapons in
the present," he said.
Even so, White House spokesman Scott McCellan says the search for weapons
will continue and that no conclusions can be drawn about the accuracy of U.S.
intelligence until that search is finished.
In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw echoed the White House view that
Saddam Hussein, regardless, posed a dangerous and gathering threat.
"I happen to believe that the decision we made on the 18th of March to take
military action was justified then in terms of enforcing international law
and is still more justified now," he said.
But David Kay now says he believes a decade of United Nations sanctions and
inspections during the 1990s had largely stopped Baghdad from stockpiling and
producing illicit weapons. And, he tells the New York Times, he believes
Saddam Hussein had become so isolated that his own scientists were able to
deceive him into thinking banned weapons were being produced when in fact money
allocated for them was being diverted through corruption. A U.S. intelligence
official tells VOA the United States never saw anything to suggest that, but
says access to that type of information would require the kind of human intelligence
inside Iraq that U.S. officials did not have.