CIA Scrubs Reports on Iraq's Weapons

The CIA (search) is preparing retrospective reports to revise officially the intelligence on Iraq's weapons capabilities before the 2003 invasion, according to an intelligence official familiar with the process.

Among them is a document titled "Iraq: No Large-Scale Chemical Warfare Efforts Since Early 1990s," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The report concludes that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (search) gave up his chemical weapons program after the 1991 Gulf War.

The Bush administration used the existence of weapons of mass destruction (search) — chemical, biological and nuclear weapons — as a leading justification to overthrow the Iraqi government.

In a lengthy and now controversial prewar analysis, the intelligence community said that Saddam had probably stockpiled at least 100 metric tons, and potentially as much as 500 metric tons, of chemical weapons. "Much of it added in the last year," the document said.

Intelligence officials including former CIA Director George Tenet (search) have conceded that at least portions of the prewar assessments on Iraq were wrong.

"Like many of the toughest intelligence challenges, when the facts of Iraq are all in, we will neither be completely right nor completely wrong," Tenet said in a speech defending the agency almost one year ago. He acknowledged that the purported chemical and biological weapons had yet to be found.

By last summer, a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry concluded that the intelligence community engaged in "group think" by failing to challenge the assumption that Iraq had WMD.

The new series of classified reports on Iraq — prepared by the CIA's intelligence analysis division — will be available to all 15 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community. The reports are not designed for President Bush and other senior policy-makers, the intelligence official said.

The effort is intended "to make sure the intelligence community's record on Iraq's WMD programs is correct and reflects the most current evaluation of those programs," the official added.

The existence of the new chemical weapons document was first reported Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman of California, welcomed efforts to amend the intelligence on Iraq's weapons. "More of the record needs to be corrected, including the agency's assessment of Iraq's prewar nuclear and biological capabilities," Harman said.

"But an even bigger priority for the intelligence community is a scrub of intelligence products regarding WMD in Iran and North Korea, where active WMD programs are known to exist and U.S. policy is being fashioned based on these products," she said.