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False prewar data offers a hard lesson, senators say

By Walter Pincus, Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Republican chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Sunday that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that senators would take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war.

``I think a lot of us would really stop and think a moment before we would ever vote for war or to go and take military action,'' Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas said on ``Fox News Sunday.''

``We don't accept this intelligence at face value anymore,'' he said. ``We get into pre-emptive oversight and do digging in regards to our hard targets.''

He said agreement had been reached on the next phase of review by the intelligence panel into whether the Bush administration exaggerated or misused prewar intelligence. The review may not be finished this year, he said.

The intelligence panel vice chair, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also appearing on Fox, called the review ``absolutely useful'' because ``if it is the fact that'' the Bush administration ``created intelligence or shaped intelligence in order to bring American opinion along to support them in going to war, that's a really bad thing -- it should not ever be repeated.''

Appearing on CNN's ``Late Edition,'' national security adviser Stephen Hadley said the White House is ``supporting'' the study, adding: ``What you're going to find is that the statements by the administration had backing at the time from accepted intelligence sources.''

He said that when administration statements turned out to be wrong, that was ``because the underlying intelligence was not true, but that's not the same as manipulating intelligence, and that is not misleading the American people.''

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., appearing with Roberts on ``Late Edition,'' said Iraq became the center of terrorism after the March 2003 invasion.

``I'm afraid we're going to see Iraq is not only the center of the war on terror, which it was not before we attacked Iraq, but now it is going to, I'm afraid, export it,'' he said.

He said Iraq ``has become the heartland of terrorism. It was not before we attacked.''

Levin, a member of both the Senate intelligence committee and Armed Services Committee, has been a leading critic of the Bush administration's handling of the war.


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