Kay-O'd on Iraqi Weapons?

Two official reports are due soon about mistakes made by the US in estimating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - estimates used by the Bush White House to justify the war to the American public.

But the reports, one from the Senate Intelligence Committee and the other an internal review by the CIA, have already been overshadowed by statements from David Kay, who just resigned as head of the team searching for any such weapons in Iraq.

Dr. Kay told Congress "it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons." He endorsed Sen. John McCain's idea of an expert, nonpartisan commission to examine prewar intelligence and propose reforms for the intelligence community.

Such a panel would be necessary if the Senate committee's report and the CIA's review aren't persuasive in showing where mistakes were made or in proposing reforms that would restore the credibility of US intelligence.

Whether the Bush administration pressured intelligence officials to be more definitive in estimating the Iraqi threat is a separate issue, if it's an issue at all. Only if Congress finds a credible intelligence officer claiming such pressure should it act. Kay says he found no evidence of pressure among intelligence agents.

Meanwhile, the search for weapons continues in Iraq, with Kay warning of "unresolved ambiguity" over the extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons program due to evidence lost in the postwar chaos.

Kay says it was possible some Iraqi officials might have been able to produce small caches of chemical or biological agents with the intent to sell them to terrorists. He agreed that "the world is far safer" with Hussein out of power. Such a result still doesn't justify any faults in intelligence estimates.

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