CIA official says report on Iraq won't forecast arms development

August 22, 2004|By Greg Miller | Greg Miller,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - Charles Duelfer, the head of the CIA's weapons search team in Iraq, said yesterday that a final report he expects to deliver next month will not forecast what Baghdad's unconventional arms programs might have looked like in coming years if the United States had not invaded.

Duelfer, speaking by telephone from Baghdad, said the search team had discussed making such a projection but decided not to pursue it. Duelfer said the fact that the idea was discussed might have created the impression among officials in Washington that such speculation would be a component of the final report.

"We are looking at the evolution and the decision process of [weapons of mass destruction] programs in Iraq, but it ends in 2003," said Duelfer, who since January has been head of the search team, formally known as the Iraq Survey Group. "There is no intent to speculate beyond the data that we can collect."

The prospect of a speculative report had touched off criticism on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, recently wrote a letter to acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin, saying an effort to forecast Iraqi activity beyond last year's war would be "inconsistent with the original mission of the Iraq Survey Group" and "by definition, be highly speculative."

An article in Friday's Los Angeles Times, citing the Harman letter and other congressional and intelligence sources, reported that the CIA was planning to include such a projection in its report.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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