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Former Arms Inspector Expresses Doubt Over Proposed Intelligence Czar - 2004-08-18


Former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is expressing doubt over whether creating a position of a national intelligence director will resolve what he calls a crisis in the intelligence community.

David Kay said the U.S. intelligence infrastructure is in crisis after massive intelligence failures, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and faulty information about Iraq's weapons programs.

U.S. lawmakers are considering whether to establish the position of national intelligence director to coordinate the gathering and sharing of intelligence, a proposal recommended by the 9/11 commission that probed the September 11th attacks.

But Mr. Kay is not sure such a post is the solution to reforming the U.S. intelligence community.

Mr. Kay, who resigned in January as the head of the U.S.-led effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, made his comments before an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.

"Iraq was overwhelming systemic failure of the Central Intelligence Agency," said Mr. Kay. "Until this is taken on board and people and organizations are held responsible for this failure, I have real difficulty seeing how a national intelligence director can correct these failings."

Weapons of mass destruction were a key reason the United States led the war with Iraq last year, but no such weapons have been found.

Mr. Kay said fixing intelligence problems requires vision and an unswerving commitment to serving the nation beyond the political and policy interests of any one particular administration.

"Instead of holding people responsible, we reward them for failure," he said. "Unless you change that and that part of the culture, organizational shuffling of deck chairs has no hope of being successful."

Meanwhile, the Republican vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who is also a senior member of the House International Relations Committee, says the U.S.-led war with Iraq was a mistake.

In a letter to constituents, Congressman Doug Bereuter of Nebraska said, in his words, "?now that inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed? It was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition."

Mr. Bereuter, who voted in favor of a resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq, said the cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible.

Left unresolved for now, he said is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action.

The congressman has resigned his seat to become president of the Asia Foundation.

Most Republicans and President Bush say the war was justified even though no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

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