House Dems Continue Push for Iraq Intelligence Probe

House Democrats renewed their push Wednesday for a deeper investigation into the handling of intelligence on Iraq's weapons program.

In the Senate, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee (search) said President Bush has to start making concrete plans for keeping troops in Iraq for at least five years. The oft-repeated statement that troops will stay no longer than needed "is rubbish," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who visited Iraq last weekend.

The Democratic push for an investigation came as the House considered a bill authorizing 2004 intelligence programs. The cost is classified, but has been estimated at $40 billion. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss (search) said the level meets Bush's request.

Goss, R-Fla., and other committee members said the bill would improve intelligence sharing among agencies, increase training of state and local agencies, modernize an aging spy satellite network, strengthen human espionage and improve counterintelligence efforts.

It would request a report from CIA Director George Tenet on intelligence lessons learned from the Iraq war. Goss and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman of California, already have asked for such a report.

The committee also has begun its own examination of the intelligence. Two Senate committees are conducting similar reviews.

Some Democrats used the debate on the bill to push for additional inquiries. An amendment by Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California to create a special committee to investigate Iraq intelligence failures was rejected on procedural grounds.

Tauscher said she was the committee's review did not go far enough. "Members of Congress and military planners need to have confidence that intelligence is objective and provides a sound basis for policy decisions," she said.

Two pending amendments face opposition from Republicans. One, by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, would require the U.S. comptroller general to study U.S. intelligence sharing with U.N. inspectors before the war.

The second amendment is by Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search) of Ohio, a presidential candidate and opponent of the war. It calls for the CIA's inspector general to audit all telephone and electronic communications between the CIA and Vice President Dick Cheney relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Democrats have questioned whether prewar intelligence was inaccurate or manipulated to back up Bush's push for war. Republicans have said there is no sign of wrongdoing and have accused Democrats of raising the issue for political reasons.

Goss said his committee's review would be thorough and nonpartisan. He also noted that Tenet has provided the committee with 19 volumes of documents on prewar intelligence which has been made available to House members.

"To those who believe that the Intelligence Committee is not doing its job or that we are incapable of doing our job, they can come and literally read over our shoulders," Goss said.

Harman also said that an additional investigation was not necessary yet, though she said "it is already clear there were flaws in U.S. intelligence."

She said administration officials "rarely included the caveats and qualifiers attached to the intelligence community's judgments." She said the committee was also examine whether intelligence on Iraq's weapons "was based on circumstantial evidence rather than hard facts."

In the Senate, Lugar and his committee's top Democrat, Joseph Biden of Delaware both called on the administration to be more open about the long-term costs and troop commitments.

"This idea that we will be in just as long we need to and not a day longer — we've got to get over that rhetoric. It is rubbish," Lugar said. "We're going to be there a long time."

Lugar said the administration has offered little information about how much the Iraqi occupation will cost and what money is available. He said he received some information during the Iraq trip when the official who heads the oil advisory board in Iraq told him oil revenues would generate about $5 billion in revenues for the rest of this year and $14 billion next year.

In a separate news conference, Biden, who accompanied Lugar to Iraq, said Bush "can't know exactly how many years and exactly how much money" is needed.

"But he sure knows that it's going to be a lot of money, a long time, and a lot of troops," he said.