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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 14:00 GMT
US Senate expands Iraq war probe
An armed man stands guard as the ISG searches a warehouse
No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq
The US Senate is to expand its Iraq intelligence probe to examine whether senior officials exaggerated the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The Senate Intelligence Committee said it would examine officials' statements to see if the intelligence backed them.

The news comes as US President George W Bush named two prominent US academics to take part in his separate inquiry.

Mr Bush announced last week he would set up an "independent, bipartisan" panel to examine Iraq intelligence.

'Systemic issues'

The Senate committee - which began its investigation last June - voted to examine public statements made by US officials between the 1991 Gulf War to the start of last year's Iraq conflict.

28 Jan: David Kay tells Congress: "We were almost all wrong" in assuming Iraq had illicit weapons
29 Jan: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledges flaws in pre-war intelligence
30 Jan: President Bush says he wants the "facts"
2 Feb: President Bush says he will order an inquiry
12 Feb: US Senate Intelligence Committee announces expansion of Iraq intelligence probe to include whether US officials exaggerated Iraq threat
This would include statements from the Democrat administration of former US President Bill Clinton.

In addition, the panel will examine how intelligence agencies used information provided by an exiled Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and two Pentagon offices - the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans (OSP).

The OSP, now disbanded, had faced allegations that it used biased means to sift intelligence in order to support the war in Iraq.

Finally, the panel will compare pre-war assessments on Iraq's alleged links to militant groups such as al-Qaeda and the reconstruction of Iraq.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said in a statement that the panel had expanded its investigation because of what he described as "serious systemic issues in the intelligence community".

Bush inquiry

Mr Bush announced on 2 February that he was setting up a panel, for which he has appointed the members and set the terms. The panel is due to report in 2005, well after November's presidential election.

The final members of the nine-member panel were appointed on Thursday. They are President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Charles Vest and Stanford business professor Henry Rowen.

Political pressure had been building for an independent review into pre-war intelligence on Iraq, after former US chief weapons inspector David Kay told US Congress in January that "it turns out we were all wrong, probably", about the threat from Saddam Hussein's regime.

The main argument used by Britain and the US for invading Iraq last March was the perceived threat from weapons of mass destruction.

But no such weapons have yet been found.

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