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President, Top Advisers: 'Iraq Had a Weapons Program'

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2003 – President Bush, meeting with Cabinet members today, reiterated that U.S. credibility is not at stake over issues of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"Iraq had a weapons program," the president said. "Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out that they did have a weapons program."

His statement echoed what both Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on the Sunday talk shows June 8.

Powell told Tony Snow of "Fox News Sunday": "There can be no question there were weapons before the war."

"They (Iraq) have had weapons throughout their history. They have used chemical weapons," Powell said. "They have admitted that they had biological weapons. And they never accounted for all that they had or what they might have done with it."

Rice, appearing on three Sunday talk shows, supported CIA intelligence that asserted Iraq's WMD program was active.

When asked by Bob Schieffer of CBS' "Face the Nation" if she thought CIA intelligence was wrong, Rice replied, "No."

"There was a preponderance of evidence and information gathered together in a disciplined process by the director of the central intelligence called a 'national intelligence estimate' that talked about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction," she said.

"The judgment of the intelligence community was that he had weapons of mass destruction, that his programs were active and being reconstituted, that he was going to great lengths to conceal these programs from the international community."

Rice said that U.N. weapons inspectors also stated in their reports that large quantities of VX, sarin gas and mustard gas were missing in Iraq.

The adviser cited a litany of administration officials back to 12 years ago who painted evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

"If you connected the dots about everything that we knew about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs going back to 1991 and going all the way up until March 2003 when we launched the attack against Iraq," she stated on ABC's 'This Week With George Stephanopoulos,' "you could come to only one conclusion .

"That was," she noted, "that this was an active program, that this was a dangerous program, this was a program that was being effectively concealed.

"That was the overwhelming assessment of the intelligence community," Rice concluded.

She also said that the United States and the coalition will "find out about the nature of that program where these weapons are" and how Saddam was concealing it.

"We've always known that the strongest evidence about the Iraqi programs will come from talking to people who were involved in them," Rice said. "We've interviewed a fraction of the people who were involved. We've gone to a fraction of the fight. We've gone through a fraction of thousands and thousands and thousands of documents about this program."

Rice noted the discovery of trailers "that look remarkably similar to what Colin Powell described in his Feb. 5th speech - biological weapons facilities."

"We've already in interviews heard from people that a lot of the chemical weapons program was indeed imbedded in the dual-use infrastructure, something else that Colin Powell reported in this February 5th speech," she said.

"We've not been at this very long. We will see the true extent of this program and its nature."

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