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CIA to Audit Information on Iraq, al-Qaida - 2004-06-24

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment calling on the CIA to conduct an audit of any evidence it provided to the Bush Administration and Congress concerning a relationship between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network before September 11, 2001. The measure came as part of House action on legislation to fund U.S. intelligence agencies.

The CIA's Inspector General is directed to conduct the audit, which House lawmakers say should cover documents, memoranda and briefings provided to the White House and Congress. Proposed by Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a sharp critic of President Bush, it nonetheless attracted support from House Republicans.

Congressman Porter Goss, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee did not oppose the amendment.

Explaining Republican reasoning in supporting the amendment was Congressman Ray LaHood, who suggested that doing so would help clear up any ambiguities about Iraqi support of terrorism.

"We should not forget that Iraq was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism for more than a decade, including this administration as well as previous administrations," says Mr. LaHood. "I urge this amendment be adopted so we can further augment our understanding of the nature of any relationship between al-Qaida and the Hussein government."

The House rejected another proposal to withhold one quarter of funds from the CIA unless it hands over all documents regarding the handling and treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

However, acting late Wednesday, lawmakers approved yet another amendment involving the CIA.

It directs the CIA to tell Congress everything it knows about efforts by individuals or entities in Pakistan to acquire or transfer weapons of mass destruction, and report to Congress on Pakistani efforts to fight the al-Qaida network.

House action on intelligence spending, which experts estimate at about $40 billion in the next fiscal year, featured often heated exchanges between Democrats and Republicans over their respective commitment to funding intelligence activities aimed at winning the war on terror.

The U.S. Senate has yet to act on its version of Intelligence Authorization legislation, which must be reconciled with the House.