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Schiff Calls For Immediate Hearings on Intelligence in International Relations Committee

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Location: Washington, DC


WASHINGTON, DC (January 30, 2004) - Following Wednesday's startling Senate testimony by Dr. David Kay, former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, about the serious flaws in our intelligence services in the months and years leading up to the war in Iraq, Rep. Adam Schiff called on House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) to hold immediate hearings to examine this issue as it relates to American foreign policy.

Rep. Schiff sent the following letter to Chairman Henry Hyde today:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This Wednesday's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by David Kay, the former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, coupled with a series of interviews he has granted to news organizations in recent days, paints a disturbing picture of the performance of our intelligence services in the months and years leading up to the war in Iraq.

As I considered whether or not to support President Bush's request for authorization to use force against Iraq, I relied heavily on assertions by the Intelligence Community and other senior administration officials that Saddam Hussein was actively developing and producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of chemical munitions and weaponized biological agents. However, as Dr. Kay told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "it turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment, and that is most disturbing."

While my immediate concerns center on the implications of Dr. Kay's testimony on our Iraq policy, there are broader issues that I believe need to be looked into by the Committee on International Relations. On multiple occasions over the past six years the reliability of the Intelligence Community has been called into question with regards to weapons of mass destruction.

In May 1998, the United States was completely surprised by a series of nuclear tests by India. More recently, both Iran and Libya have revealed nuclear weapons programs that were far more advanced and diversified than our intelligence analysts believed. Both countries' programs appear to have been aided by what some diplomats and arms control experts said was a "nuclear supermarket," whose scope is global and whose existence was completely unknown to American intelligence. Finally, the lack of any degree of certainty about the status of North Korea's nuclear weapons program has hindered Administration and Congressional policymakers in our efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the ongoing standoff with Pyongyang.

Collectively, these failures point to systemic deficiencies in our intelligence capabilities that have grave implications for the conduct of American foreign policy. Not only are we making policy decisions based on faulty analysis, we are also undermining our credibility, both at home and abroad.

I respectfully request that you hold a hearing, or a series of hearings to explore the genesis of these failures, their impact on policymaking, and various ideas that will prevent similar such occurrences in the future. Wednesday's hearing touched on some of these issues, but did not explore them in depth. I hope that you will choose to do so.

Rep. Schiff has been active on the issue of the failures in the Iraq War Intelligence for several months. He is an original co-sponsor of Rep. Henry Waxman's bill to establish an Independent Commission on the Intelligence about Iraq and offered an amendment in the House Rules Committee to the State Department Reauthorization Bill calling for an investigation into the intelligence pertaining to the President's claim in the State of the Union that "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Rep. Schiff is the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on National Security and a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations Committees. He represents California's 29th Congressional District, including the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.

For a copy of the letter, please contact Elizabeth Alexander in Rep. Schiff's office at (202) 225-4176.

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