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Rumsfeld Defends US Intelligence Claims on Iraqi Weapons - 2003-06-05


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has met with members of Congress to answer questions about the Bush administration's pre-war claims about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs.

Mr. Rumsfeld insisted following the closed-door meeting that U.S. intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was good and will eventually be proven accurate.

So far U.S. troops have found no chemical or biological weapons in Iraq.

But Secretary Rumsfeld, using a bit of humor, said that does not mean they do not exist.

"We haven't found Saddam Hussein and I don't know anyone who's running around saying he didn't exist. It takes time," he said.

Some members of Congress have voiced an interest in investigating the intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs used by the Bush administration to justify the recent war.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon would cooperate with any inquiry.

Defense officials have launched what they describe as a significant expansion of the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

They are sending over a thousand additional personnel to Iraq to collect documents, conduct interviews and review existing intelligence on the subject.

The so-called Iraq Survey Group will be based in Baghdad. The Pentagon says the team will include officials from Australia and Britain.