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Bush to Order Probe of Pre-War Iraq Intelligence - 2004-02-02


President Bush says he plans to create an independent commission to investigate pre-war intelligence on Iraq, which was used to justify last year's U.S.-led invasion.

After meeting with his cabinet Monday, Mr. Bush said he wants to consult with David Kay, the former top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, before establishing the commission.

The president had previously resisted calls for an independent probe. But he has come under increasing pressure from both Republican and opposition Democratic lawmakers to open an inquiry following Mr. Kay's testimony to Congress last week that pre-war intelligence on Iraq was faulty.

The president did not set a timetable for the investigation to report its findings, and he sidestepped a question about whether the country was owed an explanation before the November elections.

Mr. Kay told lawmakers "we were almost all wrong" about Iraq's weapons programs. He said he does not believe any large stockpiles of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons will be found there.

But Mr. Kay dismissed suggestions that senior administration officials pressured intelligence agencies to conclude Baghdad did have banned weapons to justify a war.

White House officials have previously said the creation of an independent commission should wait until a more wide-ranging search for banned weapons in Iraq is completed. They also noted that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has already opened its own inquiry.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.