Wednesday, April 12, 2006

This is the story that Ed Morrisey jumped on

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday angrily denied a newspaper report that suggested President George W. Bush in 2003 declared the existence of biological weapons laboratories in Iraq while knowing it was not true. [...]

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the account "reckless reporting" and said Bush made his statement based on the intelligence assessment of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an arm of the Pentagon.

Bush cited the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction as the prime justification for invading Iraq. No such weapons were found.

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the field report cited by the Post, but said it was a preliminary finding that had to be evaluated.

"You don't change a report that has been coordinated in the (intelligence) community based on a field report," the official said. "It's a preliminary report. No matter how strongly the individual may feel about the subject matter."

McClellan said the Post story was "nothing more than rehashing an old issue that was resolved long ago," pointing out that an independent commission on Iraq had already determined the intelligence on alleged Iraqi biological weapons was wrong.

When an ABC reporter pressed McClellan on the subject at his morning briefing, McClellan upbraided the network for picking up on the report.

"This is reckless reporting and for you all to go on the air this morning and make such a charge is irresponsible, and I hope that ABC would apologize for it and make a correction on the air," he said."

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