Friday, January 30, 2004

"We were overwhelmed by the theocracy of evil"

Mr Kay said that while the group's 1,400-strong team was still searching for weapons, he believed that efforts so far had been "sufficiently intense" to conclude that no WMD would be found.

But just as the Hutton report did not find fault with the Government, Mr Kay refused to criticise the Bush administration, claiming that while the intelligence cited by the President and his senior staff was flawed there was no political pressure on intelligence analysts to "skew" their findings.

Critics of the Bush administration claimed that intelligence was "cherry picked" and skewed to make the case for war and that caveats about the lack of solid intelligence about Saddam's capabilities were ignored for political reasons. They said putting the blame on the intelligence community amounted to a "whitewash".

Scott Ritter, a former chief UN weapons and an outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq, said last night: "I am at a loss to explain what happened in the UK and in the US. I think we were overwhelmed by the theocracy of evil in that we assumed he intended to obtain WMD and then everything that happened was interpreted with that assumption. It's insane."

Senior officials have admitted that the question of flawed intelligence is something the White House will be forced to confront sooner or later.

Of all the senior officials who made claims about WMD, Vice-President Dick Cheney remains the only one who continues to make the case that Iraq was armed. There are rumours that Mr Bush may be considering dropping Mr Cheney as his running mate in the election.

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