Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says it will be "unfortunate" if it is determined pre-war intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was dramatically wrong. But Mr. Rumsfeld says it is far too soon to make such an assessment.
U.S. investigators have yet to make public any finds of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq. Yet Mr. Rumsfeld rejects suggestions the Bush administration's credibility has suffered because it appears the intelligence cited to justify war was inaccurate.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, the defense secretary said it is too soon to make such a judgment, though he concedes it will be unfortunate if the intelligence is ultimately proven to be flawed.
"It's not clear that it [intelligence] was off by a little bit or a mile at this stage," he said. "That's yet to be seen. If it is off by a lot, that will be unfortunate."
But Mr. Rumsfeld pointed out that over a thousand U.S. investigators are still in Iraq, carrying out interrogations and examining suspect weapons of mass destruction sites.
And he added he continues to believe in the accuracy of the intelligence the United States had before launching its war against Iraq earlier this year. "I have not seen anything that leads me to believe that the intelligence I relied on is necessarily, in the aggregate, inaccurate," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld spoke as arms expert David Kay gave members of Congress an interim report on the efforts of U.S. investigators to uncover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The defense secretary says he has a copy of that report but has yet to read it.
In a related development, Mr. Rumsfeld, responding to a reporter's question, describes as classified, or secret, informations about whether the administration is asking Congress for several hundred million additional dollars to continue the hunt for chemical and biological weapons.