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Powell Admits Iraq Evidence 'Mistake'

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted that evidence he submitted to the United Nations to justify war on Iraq may have been wrong.

In February last year he told the UN Security Council that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories for making biological weapons.

On Friday he conceded that information "appears not to be... that solid".

Mr Powell said the US intelligence officers "indicated to me" that the information about the mobile labs was reliable, and "I made sure it was multi-sourced".

"Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position," he said.
"appears not to be... that solid"
Last Updated: Saturday, 3 April, 2004, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK

Powell admits Iraq evidence mistake

There is still no sign of WMD in Iraq

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted that evidence he submitted to the United Nations to justify war on Iraq may have been wrong.

In February last year he told the UN Security Council that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories for making biological weapons.

On Friday he conceded that information "appears not to be... that solid".

The claim failed to persuade the Security Council to back the war, but helped sway US public opinion.

Mr Powell said he hoped the commission appointed to investigate pre-war intelligence on Iraq would examine whether the intelligence community was justified in backing the claim.

Doubts

Doubts have been widely cast on the existence of the mobile labs, not least by the former US chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, who now says does not know whether Iraq ever had a mobile weapons programme.

Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position

Colin Powell

Mindset behind intelligence failures

No evidence of weapons of mass destruction has emerged in Iraq since the end of the war.

Mr Powell said the US intelligence officers "indicated to me" that the information about the mobile labs was reliable, and "I made sure it was multi-sourced".

"Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position," he said.

"I have discussions with the CIA about it," he said, without providing further details.

It is the first time Mr Powell has acknowledged key evidence he used to make the case for war may have been wrong, says the BBC's Jannat Jalil in Washington.

Previously, he has only said that he does not know if he would have backed the invasion had he believed Iraq did not possess banned weapons.

This admission by Mr Powell could further hurt the credibility of the Bush administration in what is an election year, our correspondent says.


Intelligence questioned

Mr Powell referred to several intelligence sources on the trailers during his Security Council speech, but at least two have been questioned in recent weeks.

News organisations have reported that US intelligence officials considered one source unreliable even before Mr Powell's speech.

One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq's biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities

Colin Powell addressing the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003


Full text of Powell speech
The Los Angeles Times also alleged that another source had been widely discredited and was never even interviewed by US officials.

Mr Powell's admission comes as the US's intelligence record is scrutinised over the attacks on 11 September, 2001.

Mr Powell last month appeared before a commission looking into the attacks, and denied that the Bush administration ignored the threat from al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

He was questioned following allegations from ex-White House counter-terrorism aide Richard Clarke that Mr Bush and his colleagues were so preoccupied with launching a war on Iraq, that they missed the growing threat from al-Qaeda.

homepage: homepage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3596033.stm

Powell "No Longer Sure" Trailers Were Labs 03.Apr.2004 15:44

The Associated Press

Saturday April 3, 2004 4:46 AM

BY BARRY SCHWEID

AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Colin Powell conceded Friday evidence he presented to the United Nations that two trailers in Iraq were used for weapons of mass destruction may have been wrong.

In an airborne news conference on the way home from NATO talks in Brussels, Belgium, Powell said he had been given solid information about the trailers that he told the Security Council in February 2003 were designed for making biological weapons.

But now, Powell said, ``it appears not to be the case that it was that solid.''

He said he hoped the intelligence commission appointed by President Bush to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq ``will look into these matters to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence that they placed in the intelligence at that time.''

Powell's dramatic case to the Security Council that Iraq had secret arsenals of weapons of mass destruction failed to persuade the council to directly back the U.S.-led war that deposed the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But it helped mobilize sentiment among the American people for going to war.

As it turned out, U.N. inspectors were unable to uncover the weapons, but administration officials have insisted they still might be uncovered.

David Kay, who led the hunt for the weapons, showed off a pair of trailers for news cameras last summer and argued that the two metal flatbeds were designed for making biological weapons.

But faced with mounting challenges to that theory, Kay conceded in October he could have been wrong. He said he did not know whether Iraq ever had a mobile weapons program.

Powell told reporters that as he worked on the Bush administration's case against Iraq U.S. intelligence ``indicated to me'' that the intelligence was solid.

``I'm not the intelligence community, but I probed and I made sure, as I said in my presentation, these are multi-sourced'' allegations, Powell said.

The trailers were the most dramatic claims, ``and I made sure that it was multi-sourced,'' he said.

``Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position,'' he said.

``I have discussions with the CIA about it,'' Powell said, without providing further details.

The trailers were the only discovery the administration had cited as evidence of an illicit Iraqi weapons program.

In six months of searches, no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons were found to bolster the administration's central case for going to war: to disarm Saddam of suspected weapons of mass destruction.


Powell Blames C.I.A. for Error on Iraq Mobile Labs 03.Apr.2004 16:45

NYT

Published on Saturday, April 3, 2004 by the New York Times

by Christopher Marquis

WASHINGTON Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Friday that he had had assurances from the intelligence community that one of the principal charges he made in a speech to the United Nations last year that Iraq had mobile weapons laboratories had been multisourced and was solid at the time.

Mr. Powell urged a presidential commission examining intelligence problems in Iraq to look into what he said was a failure by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Speaking to reporters on a flight home from Europe, Mr. Powell said he had sought to highlight the laboratory charge in his presentation to the United Nations in February 2003 because it was especially "dramatic." But he said he included it only after studying four sources that were used to compile the intelligence.

"I looked at the four elements that they gave me for that one, and they stood behind them," he said of his intelligence briefers. "Now it appears not to be the case that it was that solid."

The remarks were Mr. Powell's broadest acknowledgment yet that his United Nations presentation, which the Bush administration saw as a formal and comprehensive case for the Iraq war, was based at least in part on erroneous information.

"At the time I was preparing the presentation, it was presented to me as being solid," the secretary said.

Mr. Powell has been dogged by questions about his United Nations presentation which included satellite photos and transcripts of radio intercepts since the end of the American-led invasion last year. The skepticism toward his case increased this year after David A. Kay, the chief American weapons inspector, said he did not believe that further searching would turn up any unconventional weapons in Iraq.

The inspectors in Iraq concluded that the mobile units had not been used for making weapons and might have had some benign purpose.

Mr. Powell urged the presidential commission to "see whether the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence that they placed in the intelligence at the time." The commission, which is headed by Laurence H. Silberman, a federal judge, and former Senator Charles S. Robb of Virginia, will not present its findings until next spring.

"If the sources fall apart, we need to find out how we got ourselves into that position," Mr. Powell said, "and I've had discussions with the C.I.A. about that."


Good, glad that's cleared up! 03.Apr.2004 22:07

jd

I was so "not sure" if they weren't weapons labs.

And it only took a year to figure out. That's some crack intelligence alright.

dear mr. powell... 04.Apr.2004 11:51

this thing here

... do you believe that the administration you work for should be given the opportunity to expend 600 american lives, $4,000,000,000 a month, and tens of thousands of iraqi lives, simply to figure out if a claim about mobile biological weapons labs that many KNEW TO BE UNSUBSTANTIATED is "plausible" or "incorrect"?

under what authority do you have this immensely sick and costly luxury to BE SO FUCKING WRONG? is it acceptable that you somehow have the luxury to be FUCKING WRONG and thousands of people died because of it?