WASHINGTON (Talon News) — At a White House briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced that the proactive search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been officially terminated. After 2 years and millions of dollars, the Iraq Survey Group has essentially abandoned the hunt for the illusive WMD.
McClellan said that searches for WMD have been concluded and that the administration no longer believes that WMD will be found. He added that there may be “a couple, a few people, that are focused” on the search, but that most have been assigned to other missions.
In reaction, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement, saying, “Now that the search is finished, President Bush needs to explain to the American people why he was so wrong for so long.”
“Not only was there not an imminent threat to the United States, the threat described in such alarmist tones to the United States by President Bush and the most senior members of his administration did not exist at all,” Pelosi added.
McClellan faced some hard questions about WMD during yesterday’s briefing. Several focused on the credibility of the U.S. in the world scene in light of the option to go to war based on faulty intelligence. However, Mr. McClellan responded to credibility questions by repeatedly stating that the U.S. is working diligently to improve intelligence with allies worldwide.
The press secretary did cite the Duelfer report (web site), saying, “The regime retained the intent and capability, that Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive strategy to undermine the U.N. oil-for-food program and bring down the United Nations sanctions using procurement schemes, and that he intended to resume his pursuit of WMD once those sanctions were eliminated. It also made clear the [Hussein] was in material breech of [U.N.] Resolution 1441, which gave him one final opportunity to comply.”
Duelfer’s final report is expected to be released next month.
In a preliminary report from Mr. Duelfer, he said that Saddam not only had no WMD and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either. This differs from Mr. McClellan’s claim that Iraq had the capability to produce WMD.
As for the question of an explanation to the American people, Mr. McClellan said, “Based on what we know now, we still would have done the same thing,” arguing that the world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein out of power.