Former CIA Chief Criticizes U.S. Spin of Kay’s Report on Iraqi WMD

WASHINGTON — Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner criticized the Bush administration yesterday for overplaying the findings of a recent progress report on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Lead U.S. investigator David Kay last week submitted an interim report of his Iraq Survey Group to Congress (see GSN, Oct. 3).

“I’m just aghast when I read what Mr. Kay says and then read what Mr. [U.S. President George W.] Bush says about Mr. Kay and then read what Mr. [U.S. Secretary of State Colin] Powell wrote yesterday about Mr. Kay’s report,” Turner said in an interview with Global Security Newswire. Powell wrote a commentary in Tuesday’s Washington Post entitled “What Kay Found” (see GSN, Oct. 7).

“I mean,” Turner said, “Kay said they found nothing of significance, but because they found some biological samples, some of which could be possibly used — possibly used — for biological weapons, that were in the refrigerator since 1993 in some scientist’s home, they’re all trumping this up and one or two other little things like that as a great victory for their claims” of a vigorous Iraqi WMD program.

The Bush administration, he said, has “clearly overplayed” the situation and is trying to avoid having to “confess” that, although he said he too would have been concerned about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion began in March.

To improve the postwar stabilization process, the United States needs to give the United Nations “some real authority” in Iraq to avoid the risk of alienating ordinary Iraqis, Turner suggested.

Turner said that if the Bush administration loses too much popular support in Iraq, it will become difficult to overcome the snipers and other security problems it is facing in Baghdad.

The administration, he said, is having problems in the United Nations now “because they don’t like the U.N. and they don’t like nation-building in general.” In addition, he said, the administration “had a false impression of what Iraq reconstruction was going to be like.”

October 9, 2003
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WASHINGTON — Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner criticized the Bush administration yesterday for overplaying the findings of a recent progress report on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Lead U.S. investigator David Kay last week submitted an interim report of his Iraq Survey Group to Congress (see GSN, Oct. 3).