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V.I.P.S.: U.S. Should Be "Embarassed" Over Failure to Find W.M.D.


A.F.P., Washington, D.C., Apr. 18, 2003

"The U.S. government should be 'embarrassed' over the apparent failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the main justification for going to war, retired intelligence officials said Thursday. 'It's going to be very embarrassing when it turns out they have nothing to declare,' said former defense intelligence analyst Eugene Betit. Another, former C.I.A. station chief Ray Close, said: 'I'm hoping they will be embarrassed into acknowledging a role for some independent body. And who could it be but the U.N.?' As the 'smoking gun' continued to elude U.S. sleuths in Iraq, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix called for experts to return to the country to determine whether the weapons allegations had any foundation."
"Adding to the pressure, Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, said it would not support the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Iraq unless U.N. inspectors confirmed the absence of weapons of mass destruction. But Washington has so far rejected such calls, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday sought to deflect concerns that evidence could be planted."
"Retired C.I.A. intelligence analyst Ray McGovern told A.F.P.: 'Some of my colleagues are virtually certain that there will be some weapons of mass destruction found, even though they might have to be planted. I'm just as sure that some will be found, but not in an amount that by any stretch would justify the charge of a threat against the U.S. or anyone else.' He added: 'Even if the planting was discovered by and by, they'll say, 'ok, the weapons were planted - fine.' ' McGovern said he was alluding to a remark by Secretary of State Colin Powell after it emerged that a letter purporting to show that Iraq had sought to procure uranium from Niger - a key argument in the case for war and cited in President George W. Bush's Jan. 28 State of the Union address - was a forgery. Powell told N.B.C.: 'It was the information that we had. We provided it. If that information is inaccurate, fine.' "
"McGovern and 24 other former intelligence officials in the C.I.A., State and Defense Departments, Army Intelligence and F.B.I. formed a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (V.I.P.S.). They made their first public statement on Feb. 5, critiquing Powell's presentation before the U.N. Security Council. C.I.A. spokesman Tom Crispell, asked for comment on the former officials' remarks Thursday, said: 'They're criticizing policy, not intelligence.' "