Was U.S. Misled Into Iraq War?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Oct. 6, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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CHARLES DUELFER, CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: There was an attempt to sustain the intellectual capability and to sustain some elements of the program, particularly before 1995, but active nuclear weapons program, no.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The top weapons inspector reported today that Saddam Hussein (search) wanted weapons of mass destruction, but he didn't have them, and there is no evidence he'd been producing them since 1991.

Joining me now to talk about Charles Duelfer's (search) report and testimony, California Congresswoman Jane Harman (search), a Democrat, and Indiana Congressman Dan Burton (search), a Republican. Congressman Burton, you first. Big question. So, were we misled into war with Iraq?

REP. DAN BURTON, (R) INDIANA: Of course not. Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction against the Kurds. He killed thousands of innocent women and children using chemical weapons. During the seven-year war with Iran, he did the same thing. According to Mahdi Obeidi (search), who was the chemical expert — the country's enrichment expert, he said right up until the year 2003 just before the invasion, he said he was stilll trying to develop a nuclear program.

So Saddam Hussein's goal was to build weapons of mass destruction. He had weapons of mass destruction. Back during the Clinton administration, they found 8500 liters — 8,500 liters of anthrax which could have killed tens of thousand of people. I mean, to say this man wasn't in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction or didn't have them in the past is just erroneous.

GIBSON: You know, Congresswoman Harman, I saw your statement today. Pretty harsh on Charlie Duelfer's report. I think we knew there weren't any WMDs and the president said there was the big question as to why we thought there was, but you say he know Iraq didn't have ties to Al Qaeda before the war. The senate intelligence report — I'm reading from it now - says Iraq continues to be a safe haven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals in direct violence against the United States.

REP. JANE HARMAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I agree with that. Since the war Iraq has become the central organizing spot for terror, but pre- war, there were no operational relationships with Al Qaeda. Not withstanding what the vice president continues to say.

GIBSON: Congresswoman, isn't that operational word a cop out? I mean, there was lots of connections and contacts.

HARMAN: I don't think that - no, I read the intelligence, and there were no working relationships other than occasional contacts. That is very different thing. That's kind of like what Cheney had with Edwards, as we learned.

GIBSON: But weren't they feeling around in the dark trying to develop something?

HARMAN: The central point to make today, I'm holding in my hand the three volumes of Duelfer's comprehensive report, is that this WMD issue is over. There is no WMD in Iraq and the claims that there were stockpiles — that's what it said — of chemical and biological weapons and that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear capability were wrong. We had a massive intelligence failure and it is time for the president to admit it.

GIBSON: Congressman Burton, is that new or had we come to that conclusion some time ago?

HARMAN: There are two Americas. There is the Bush fantasy world and then there is the real world where I happen to live. And yeah, we came to that conclusion a long time ago.

BURTON: All I can say to my good friend Congresswoman Harman is how did all the Kurds get killed if they didn't use chemical weapons? Wait, wait. I'll let you talk in just a minute. The fact of the matter is as far as ties with Al Qaeda is concerned, Uday, the son of Saddam Hussein, had some of the leaders of Al Qaeda in the country for operations and medical things on a regular basis. They were in and out of that there all the time. For anyone to say there wasn't a loose connection between Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, is just being silly.

GIBSON: Congresswoman Harman, let me ask you about Al Qaeda thing. I mean, we're now saying well, Zarqawi, there is no evidence that Zarqawi - we know he is a terrorist, we know he is operating in Iraq. We know he operated in Iraq before the Americans invaded, but there is no evidence that he swore loyalty to bin Laden or Al Qaeda. So what? He's cutting the heads off Americans. He went there to do that. He was there before the Americans arrived. Doesn't this establish a connection between Al Qaeda- like terrorists at least?

HARMAN: The claim has been constantly and ongoing from the vice president and sometimes the president that there was an operational collusion, I guess, between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and that Al Qaeda - that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. It's false. There is no WMD. There was not a relationship, Secretary Rumsfeld is agreeing with that now.

GIBSON: Congresswoman Harman if that is false and you were President Harman, you would not have gone to war against Saddam Hussein? You would not have done regime change?

HARMAN: I am glad he was removed. I don't think that's the issue. I think the real issue is...

GIBSON: Well, wait a minute. You are blaming the president for going to the war but you're saying you are happy with the result. This doesn't add up.

HARMAN: I'm not blaming. I'm saying there were massive intelligence failures. The information that we in Congress had and that he had was wrong. I think it is time for him to admit the reality that the information was wrong, fix the mistakes. Congress is debating intelligence reform this week, I wish the president were here urging us to pass a very strong bill in both houses.

GIBSON: Congressman Burton, I have about five seconds. Are you glad Saddam Hussein is gone?

BURTON: I am glad he was gone and I will just say this. There were meetings outside of Iraq between Iraqi leaders and Al Qaeda. We know that for a fact. To say there was no connection between them, even a loose connection, is ridiculous. Saddam Hussein should be gone.

GIBSON: Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congressman Dan Burton, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. The debate shall go on.

HARMAN: Thank you John. There was no Prague meeting. Didn't happen.

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