The Bush administration has disputed assertions by leaders of the House intelligence committee that the US went to war in Iraq on the basis of outdated and vague intelligence.
Senior US officials said that pre-mise would have assumed a dramatic change in behavior by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein -- the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) since the departure of UN inspectors in 1998.
"I just don't think that was plausible," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Fox News Sunday.
The White House defended Pres-ident George W. Bush's US$87 billion request for rebuilding Iraq.
The administration's early estimate of the cost was about US$60 billion and a former Bush adviser was chastised for mentioning figures as high as US$200 billion. The requested US$87 billion would be in addition to US$59 billion already spent.
"We did not have perfect foresight into what we were going to find in Iraq," Rice told NBC's Meet the Press.
"The fact of the matter is ... this deteriorated infrastructure, one that was completely covered over by the gleaming pictures of Baghdad that made it look like a first-world city," she said. "The key here is that you could -- cannot put a price tag on security."
From Bush on down, US officials made the case that war was necessary to remove the Iraqi president because of Iraq's stockpiles of illegal arms, including chemical wea-pons capable of use against approaching US soldiers.
But leaders of the House intelligence panel said in a letter last week to CIA Director George Tenet that those claims resulted largely from fragmentary and circumstantial evidence filled with uncertainties. The Washington Post reported on Sunday on the letter from Porter Goss and Jane Harman, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the committee.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow denied the allegations.
"The notion that our community does not challenge standing judgments is absurd," he said Saturday in a statement.
Neither US troops nor a CIA team led by former UN chief inspector David Kay have reported finding any WMD.
The letter reportedly cited "significant deficiencies" in the intelligence agencies' ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq after UN weapons inspectors left in 1998.
"There was enrichment of the intelligence from 1998 over the period leading up to the war," Rice said.
"Nothing pointed to a reversal of Saddam Hussein's very active efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction ... It was very clear that this had continued and that it was a gathering danger," she said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell cited Saddam's use of poison gas against Kurdish civilians -- 5,000 died -- to put down unrest in 1988.
"Now, if you want to believe that he suddenly gave up that weapon and had no further interest in those sorts of weapons, whether it be chemical, biological, or nuclear, then I think you're -- it's a bit naive to believe that," Powell said on ABC's This Week.
Powell urged Congress to approve the Iraqi money.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and