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Report clears Blair's office of exaggerating Iraq claims

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2003

LONDON - A parliamentary committee concluded in a report Thursday that the British government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been potentially misleading, but the panel cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair's office of charges it had purposely exaggerated intelligence claims to justify military action.

The report by the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee said the dossier, published a year ago, was based on legitimate intelligence data. "There was no political interference - the dossier was not sexed up," committee chairman Ann Taylor said.

But the report said the dossier's claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes had been "unhelpful to an understanding of this issue." The 45-minute claim had referred only to "battlefield chemical and biological munitions and their movement on the battlefield, not to any other form of chemical or biological attack." This "should have been highlighted in the dossier," the report said.

The committee said the dossier had failed to make clear that Saddam Hussein's government posed no "current or imminent threat" to mainland Britain. In addition, the committee concluded, the dossier should have acknowledged there was a debate within the intelligence community over whether Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

Attack leads to firefight

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. military convoy west of Baghdad Thursday, touching off an intense firefight that left at least one American soldier wounded, the military said.

Tanks and other vehicles from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment came under attack in Fallujah, part of the dangerous "Sunni Triangle" region about 60 miles west of the capital, U.S. Army Capt. Jeff Fitzgibbons said.

Graham criticizes Iraq policy

NEW YORK - Democratic presidential hopeful Bob Graham assailed President Bush on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, arguing the Iraq conflict undercut the war on terror and transformed the Persian Gulf nation into a magnet for terrorists.

The former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Iraq was not a battleground in the war on terrorism until Bush decided to use force to topple Saddam Hussein's regime. "The reason it's now part of it is because terrorists have been induced to come into Iraq because of their enmity toward the United States and the circumstances inside Iraq," the Florida senator said.

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