Report: ex-CIA official says White House ignored prewar doubts about weapons in Iraq
WASHINGTON – The former chief of the CIA’s European operation is accusing the White House of ignoring the spy agency’s doubts that Iraq had a budding nuclear program or weapons of mass destruction as the U.S. prepared for war.”The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy,” Tyler Drumheller told CBS’ “60 Minutes” for an interview to be broadcast Sunday night. The network released excerpts ahead of the airing.The White House has denied that intelligence, while flawed, was exaggerated or manipulated in the months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.Drumheller, who retired last year, said the White House ignored crucial information from a high and credible source who claimed that there were no active programs for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “60 Minutes” identified the source as Iraq’s foreign minister, Naji Sabri, with whom U.S. spies had made a deal.CIA Director George Tenet delivered the information to President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials in September 2002, according to Drumheller. A few days later the administration said it was no longer interested.Drumheller said he was told about the exchange that followed: “And we said, ‘Well, what about the intel?’ And they said, ‘Well, this isn’t about intel anymore. This is about regime change.”‘CIA spokesman Tom Crispell said Saturday that Drumheller’s remarks do not reflect the views of the agency.