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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Let Me Find My Reading Glasses

Sen. Carl Levin, in today's WaPo, is not happy with the level of cooperation between the CIA and the UN inspectors in Iraq:

CIA Director George J. Tenet, meanwhile, faced a storm of criticism from Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee who charged that the administration has sabotaged the U.N. weapons inspections by not fully cooperating with the United Nations. They also accused Tenet of misleading them about the intelligence on Iraqi weapons that the CIA had turned over to the inspections teams.

In testimony before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, Tenet surprised senators by saying that the agency had given U.N. inspectors all the information it had on weapons sites of "high" and "moderate" interest, meaning those sites that are likely to contain weapons or remnants of weapons. Today, Tenet told the Senate defense panel that he had been wrong. In fact, he said, there are "one handful of sites which may not have been known" to the U.N. inspectors.

Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, have pressed the Bush administration to provide timely and accurate intelligence on Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons sites. U.S. officials maintain that they have, although the inspectors have raised questions about the quality of some of the U.S. intelligence.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) challenged Tenet's statements in an interview after the testimony, saying the CIA director continued to mislead lawmakers on the extent of the agency's cooperation. Levin cited classified letters from the CIA dated Jan. 24 and Jan. 28 in which the CIA said it had not shared information about what he characterized as "a large number of sites" of "significant" value. Levin said the CIA informed him on Tuesday that it planned to hand over more information within the next few days. "When they've taken the position that inspections are useless, they are bound to fail," Levin said. "We have undermined the inspectors since the beginning."

I suppose I ought to read UN Resolution 1441 again. But I have the apparently silly idea that it was Saddam that was meant to disclose his weapons to the UN.

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