The British government says it will
announce soon whether to follow the U.S. lead and order an inquiry into the intelligence
on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeatedly resisted attempts to authorize an
investigation into the apparent failure to uncover Iraq's alleged weapons of
mass destruction. For months, the prime minister has maintained that it would
not be prudent to hold such an inquiry until the Iraq Survey Group of weapons
inspectors release its final report.
Opposition party leaders and many members of Mr. Blair's own ruling Labor
Party have been calling for a thorough examination of Britain's pre-war intelligence
on Iraq's purported mass destruction arsenal and how that information was used.
With President Bush announcing his intention to launch an independent investigation
into U.S. intelligence failures, the pressure on Mr. Blair to do likewise has
Mr. Blair justified the case for going to war based on the threat posed by
Iraq's alleged chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Public skepticism
about the government's argument deepened when the former head of the Iraq Surveillance
Group, David Kay, said no weapons are likely to be found.
In a report issued last week by a senior judge, Mr. Blair was cleared of
allegations his office had embellished intelligence about Iraq's weaponry in
order to justify going to war.
But the report did not answer questions about the failures of the intelligence,
and most people in Britain want the answers. The latest polls published in
the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times show that about 60 percent
of those asked said they want some sort of an investigation.
In a related document, a Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee report
says the failure to find prohibited weapons in Iraq is undermining the United
States' and Britain's global war on terror. The report says that, in the short
term, the war in Iraq may well have increased the risk of terrorist attacks
against British interests.