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National Public Radio - Talk of the Nation - Charles Duelfer's Report on Weapons of Mass Distruction in Iraq - Transcript

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National Public Radio (NPR) October 6, 2004 Wednesday

SHOW: Talk of the Nation 3:00 AM EST NPR

HEADLINE: Charles Duelfer's report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq



JOE PALCA, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Joe Palca in Washington, sitting in for Neal Conan.


Representative JIM COOPER (Democrat, Tennessee): Thank you, Joe. Good afternoon.

PALCA: So I know you haven't had much time to comb through the 1,500 pages, or maybe you're an extremely fast reader, but I'd like to get your initial responses. Are there any surprises to you so far?

Rep. COOPER: Charles Duelfer is a very, very credible source on this. He's done extremely hard work, as have 1,700 other people looking for WMD in Iraq. The net result is it's clearly a bad day for the administration. President Bush and Vice President Cheney went way out on a limb saying there was WMD in Iraq, and they have turned out to be wrong.

PALCA: Are there any questions that remain unanswered in your mind? Are there still things to find out about what kind of capabilities Saddam Hussein had after inspectors left Iraq?

Rep. COOPER: Well, Duelfer points out that there's a new cache of materials that he'll be going through. But in his professional judgment, he doesn't think that there are any stockpiles. And this doesn't mean that Saddam didn't intend to have WMD. He would've liked to have had it, and he was within probably a few months of having some chemical warheads. But basically the stockpiles and the imminent nuclear threat that was painted in the press when we went to war is simply not true.

PALCA: Do you think that this report will add any fervor to the interest in Congress passing bipartisan intelligence reform bill before the election?

Rep. COOPER: I think it will because it pinpoints the massive intelligence failure that preceded our entry into the war. You add this to Paul Bremer's statements of yesterday, saying that we needed more troops, it just seems like a mismanaged situation, not one of America's finest moments.

PALCA: OK. What effect do you think this will have on the presidential campaigns?

Rep. COOPER: Well, I think on top of the debate momentum that Kerry and Edwards have, it's really helping them as we go into the final weeks of the campaign because Charles Duelfer is the consummate professional. Nobody knows more about Iraq and WMD than he does. And he came up empty-handed. President Bush himself said for months, 'Well, let's wait and see what Charlie tells us.' This is the definitive word. And the definitive word is the administration was dead wrong on the WMD issue.

PALCA: Congressman Jim Cooper, thank you very much.

Rep. COOPER: Thank you, Joe.

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