Adviser wants U.S. intelligence chiefs to quit
Cites faulty conclusions on Saddam's weapons
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
WASHINGTON—Richard Perle, a chief proponent of last year's U.S. invasion of Iraq, yesterday called for the chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency to step down because of their faulty conclusions that Saddam Hussein possessed mass-killing weapons.
Perle, a close adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said top officials made no attempt to skew the intelligence about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Instead, he implied, top policymakers relied in good faith on the conclusions of the intelligence agencies.
"George Tenet has been at the CIA long enough to assume responsibility for its performance," Perle told reporters, referring to the director of the agency. "There's a record of failure and it should be addressed in some serious way."
"The CIA has an almost perfect record of getting it wrong in relation to the (Persian) Gulf going back to the Shah of Iran," Perle said. He called for "a shakeup" in the U.S. intelligence establishment.
"I think, of course, heads should roll," he said. "When you discover that you have an organization that doesn't get it right time after time, you change the organization, including the people.
"I'd start with the head head," Perle said when asked which heads should roll at the CIA. Perle said the DIA " is in at least as bad shape as CIA (and) needs new management."
Navy Vice-Adm. Lowell Jacoby has headed the agency since July, 2002.
U.S. President George W. Bush, Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell have said they relied on intelligence from the CIA and DIA in their assertions that Saddam had stockpiles of mass-casualty weapons. The claim was the main rationale for the U.S-led invasion.
David Kay, former head of the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq, has concluded it was highly unlikely that Saddam possessed stockpiles of such weapons.
"It turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment, and that is most disturbing," Kay said last month.
While Kay dismissed the prospect that stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction would ever be found in Iraq, Perle disputed him on two relatively minor claims: that Iraq wasn't seeking to enrich uranium or develop mobile weapons laboratories to manufacture chemical or biological weapons.
"The jury is still out" on those points, Perle said.
Perle, the former chairman of — and current member of — the Defence Policy Board, a senior level advisory panel to Rumsfeld, was an advocate for overthrowing Saddam, asserting in the months leading up to the war that the Iraqi dictator's weapons stockpiles posed a grave threat to the United States.
In the lead-up to the war, Perle regularly warned about Saddam's reputed arsenal and the danger that would follow if the United Nations failed to get the Iraqi dictator to disarm.
Tenet was first appointed by president Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1997 and then moved over to the Bush administration after the 2000 election. His agency has been criticized for the Iraqi weapons episode and for failing to detect the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes.
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