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CIA asked to explain prewar reports
Congresswoman warns of spy 'hoax'

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, May 31, 2003


President Bush's contention that America went to war with Iraq to rid
Saddam Hussein of hidden biological and chemical weapons "could be the
greatest intelligence hoax of all time," the ranking Democrat on the
House Intelligence Committee warned Friday.

Rep. Jane Harman, D-Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), has sent a
letter along with Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., the Intelligence Committee
chairman, to CIA Director George Tenet asking him to explain what
intelligence led spy agencies to believe Iraq had stocks of the banned
weapons or that al Qaeda operated on Iraqi territory.

"U.S. credibility is at stake," Harman told the Chronicle editorial
board on Friday. "Especially if there is an interest in another military
adventure, we need the facts."

The congresswoman, who said she still believed chemical or biological
weapons would be found, said intelligence briefings about weapons of
mass destruction she received in the committee were a major reason she
had voted for last October's war resolution. "If it's there, we better
find it because whoever buried it can dig it up," she said.

"They had a lot of time to hide it or move it through porous borders to
other countries," she said of Hussein's officials.

Harman and Goss requested that Tenet report to them by July 1. For now,
she said, the CIA director, who doesn't have authority over the
multitude of other agencies that collect intelligence, is doing a good

"I would rate him highly," she said, as a director who restored CIA
morale when he took over under former President Bill Clinton.

E-mail Edward Epstein at

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