June 26, 2003

Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Amendment Calling for GAO to Conduct Study on U.S. Intelligence Receives 185 Votes

Would Have Investigated to What Extent Department of Defense and Other Intelligence Agencies Shared Information with UN Inspectors in Iraq

Washington, DC – In what was the first significant Congressional demonstration of support for an investigation into U.S. intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA)’s Intelligence Authorization Act amendment, calling for a study to determine whether the U.S. intelligence community withheld or distorted information from United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq, received 185 votes. That vote was just 33 votes short of the number needed to launch an investigation.

Recent newspaper accounts have detailed the Bush Administration’s possible manipulation of intelligence in the weeks and months preceding the invasion of Iraq.

After the vote, Lee said, “I am pleased to see that there is such growing support for our effort to receive straight answers from the Administration. The American people have a right to know the facts.”

During the debate on the House floor last night, Lee said, “Our President told the American people, the Congress, and the world that inspections had failed, that Iraq unquestionably possessed weapons of mass destruction, and that these weapons posed such a dire threat to the United States that we had no choice but to go to war. All other options, he said, had been exhausted. But, the question we must continue to ask is, were those options truly exhausted? Were they, in fact, fully pursued?”

“Did the United States intelligence community share information with the UN inspectors about suspected weapons sites? Did it happen in a timely and sufficient manner?”

“This nation launched a preemptive war based on what it claimed was indisputable evidence. If that evidence was not so solid and especially if it was distorted, then we severely undercut our ability to convince the world about future dangers from weapons of mass destruction in other countries.”

“Given the Administration’s confident and unequivocal statements that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and given the President’s assurances that he wanted to work with the United Nations to seek non-military solutions through a renewed inspections process, it is important that we learn the answer to the question of whether or not intelligence was shared in a timely and sufficient manner with the UN inspections teams.”