- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The House intelligence committee will look into a possible leak of classified information about secret CIA prisons, but will not restart a 2003 inquiry into prewar intelligence on Iraq.

As Democratic calls for intelligence-related reviews grow, a Republican congressional aide said work on the botched prewar Iraq estimates will stay with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is in the second phase of its investigation.

The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because the lawmakers had not yet made the announcements.

The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House, chaired by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, already has been investigating leaks of classified information. The Michigan Republican was not immediately available to comment.

At the White House, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley shot back at “the notion that somehow the administration manipulated prewar intelligence about Iraq.”

“Some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. They stated that belief and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people,” he said. “For those critics to ignore their own past statements exposes the hollowness of their current attacks.”

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, called for a congressional investigation into the disclosure of the existence of CIA secret prisons reported in a Nov. 2 story in The Washington Post. The story said the prisons were located in eight countries, including democracies in Eastern Europe.

In a letter, the GOP leaders said leaking of classified information by employees of the government appeared to have increased in recent years, “establishing a dangerous trend that, if not addressed swiftly and firmly, likely will worsen.”

On Tuesday, California Rep. Jane Harman, the House intelligence panel’s senior Democrat, urged the panel to return to its work on the prewar intelligence on Iraq — a request that mirrored the efforts of Democratic senators to draw attention to the administration’s mistakes on the war.

The House committee began an inquiry in June 2003 and produced interim findings in September of that year in a letter to then-CIA Director George J. Tenet. The committee, chaired then by the current CIA Director Porter J. Goss, said the United States went to war in Iraq on the basis of outdated and vague intelligence.

Separately, the Senate intelligence committee produced a 511-page report in July 2004 that found that the CIA provided false and unfounded assessments of the threat posed by Iraq.

In March, a presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction concluded America’s spy agencies were “dead wrong” in most prewar assessments about Iraq’s weapons and know disturbingly little about current nuclear threats.

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