- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 6, 2004

The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to hear testimony today on another round of Iraq Survey Group findings, bolstering earlier reports that no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, a Bush administration official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Washington Times yesterday, said the findings “certainly will say they found no stockpiles” and will not clear up the mystery of what happened to the weapons touted by the Bush administration as a key reason for toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

However, the official said the report will make clear that Saddam had “every intention” of restarting WMD programs in the event sanctions against Iraq were lifted.

The report was compiled by Charles A. Duelfer, special adviser to the director of central intelligence regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He is expected to testify before the committee with U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, who serves as commander to the Iraq Survey Group.

A spokesman for committee chairman Sen. John W. Warner said members were receiving the report late yesterday, but declined to comment on its contents.

Mr. Warner, Virginia Republican, is “looking forward” to receiving the testimony of Mr. Duelfer, who was named in January by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to succeed David Kay as the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Warner spokesman John Ullyot said.

“This was the work of the Iraq Survey Group continued under Duelfer as the successor to Kay, and he has had additional time to reach conclusions about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs,” Mr. Ullyot said.

Mr. Kay made headlines upon the completion of an earlier interim report on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction last year, when he said prewar assessments of Iraq having stockpiles of WMDs had been wrong.

The politically charged issue then became the center of a Bush administration decision to create a separate, bipartisan and independent commission to examine U.S. intelligence capabilities regarding weapons of mass destruction.

Headed by former Sen. Charles S. Robb, Virginia Democrat, and appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman, a Republican, the commission has been holding regular meetings since its February inception.

Mr. Bush gave the group until March 2005 to report its findings, and a spokesman has said early meetings included testimony from Mr. Kay and others with the Iraq Survey Group.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, addressed the issue of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or lack of them, during a question-and-answer session Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“Why the intelligence proved wrong, I’m not in a position to say,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “I simply don’t know. But the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail than they were with him in power.”

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.

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