By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 14, 2005
The Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that senators would take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war.
"I think a lot of us would really stop and think a moment before we would ever vote for war or to go and take military action," Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
"We don't accept this intelligence at face value anymore," he added. "We get into preemptive oversight and do digging in regards to our hard targets."
He said that agreement has been reached on the Phase 2 review that the intelligence panel is doing to look into whether the Bush administration exaggerated or misused prewar intelligence. The review may not be finished this year, he said.
The intelligence panel vice chairman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), also appearing on Fox, called the review "absolutely useful" because "if it is the fact that they [the Bush administration] created intelligence or shaped intelligence in order to bring American opinion along to support them in going to war, that's a really bad thing -- it should not ever be repeated."
Appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said the White House is "supporting" the study, adding: "I think that what you're going to find is that the statements by the administration had backing at the time from accepted intelligence sources."
He said that when administration statements turned out to be wrong, that was "because the underlying intelligence was not true, but that's not the same as manipulating intelligence, and that is not misleading the American people."
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), appearing with Roberts on "Late Edition," said that Iraq became the center of terrorism after the March 2003 invasion.
"I'm afraid we're going to see Iraq is not only the center of the war on terror, which it was not before we attacked Iraq, but now it is going to, I'm afraid, export it."
He added that Iraq "has become the heartland of terrorism. It was not before we attacked."
Levin, a member of both the Senate intelligence committee and Armed Services Committee, has been a leading critic of the Bush administration's handling of the war.
Levin also said that the United States must "get allies, as many as we can, including in the Muslim world because this is a form of fanatic Islam which has to be defeated by the moderate Islamic people."
In a column in yesterday's Washington Post, former senator John Edwards (N.C.), the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2004, said the failures of the Bush administration turned Iraq into "a far greater threat than it ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists [and] has made fighting the global war on terrorist organizations more difficult rather than less."
The president and his senior aides have said since before the invasion that Washington went to war primarily because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to the United States and its neighbors because of his connection to terrorists. Once fighting began, they argued that Iraq was the central front in the battle against terrorism.
In his Veterans Day speech on Friday, the president turned his original argument around, saying, "The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity," and therefore, "We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists."