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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 15:31 GMT
Europe's press eyes US Iraq probe
US's Collin Powell and George Bush
Papers have questioned the motives behind the US inquiry

Many newspapers in France, Germany and Russia - countries opposed to the war in Iraq - were quick to comment on US President George W Bush's decision to launch an inquiry into the pre-war intelligence efforts in the US.

Some papers suggested the move called into question the US doctrine of preventive war.

Others linked it more directly to November's presidential election.

Bush was forced into a spectacular about-face on Monday over the creation of a commission charged with shedding light on the errors of the US intelligence services regarding the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq... He has however taken care to specify that his report is not expected before 2005... His aim is to buy time and avoid having controversy poison his electoral campaign.

France's Le Monde

Bush seems to have arrived at the conclusion that the possible fallout from the committee's work during the coming months will be a lesser evil - preferable to repeated accusations of lying and the charge of leaving the country's security at the mercy of mistakes by the intelligence services.

France's Le Monde by Patrick Jarreau

In addition to Bush, Dick Cheney could find that the coming inquiry has him directly in its sights. On around a dozen occasions before the offensive against Baghdad, the vice-president said he was 'totally convinced' that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and constituted an immediate threat to the US.

France's Liberation by Fabrice Rousselot

An independent commission is necessary to shed light on the US intelligence system... Waiting for the definitive report from the US inspectors in Iraq would have played into the hands of Senator John Kerry.

France's Le Figaro by Jean-Louis Turlin

The discrepancy between pre-war claim and post-war reality can no longer be denied. Ignoring the problem has come to an end. True, other Western intelligence services may also have erred. But no other country has unleashed a war citing its intelligence service findings.

Germany's Der Tagesspiegel by Malte Lehming

The war in Iraq raises many questions and the answers could be unpleasant for President Bush. Either it turns out that the president knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then he is a liar. Or it will become clear that the intelligence services are not reliable sources and then his theory of preventive war based on the statements of intelligence services will be weakened.

Germany's Berliner Zeitung by Olivia Schoeller

Even opposition politicians realise that the fragmented US reconnaissance capacity is not tailor-made for its task.

Germany's Die Welt by Torsten Krauel

Blair's most important ally has buckled at a critical juncture. In announcing an inquiry into the intelligence material on which the war was based and the way it was used politically, US President George Bush is showing signs of doubt about the justification for war.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung by Christoph Schwennicke

As the popularity of President Bush falls in the US, inside the administration the desire is ripening to shift the blame for miscalculations from politicians-professionals to professionals at other levels - namely to those who supplied the top leadership of the country with poor-quality information about Baghdad's possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Russia's Krasnaya Zvezda by Vadim Markushin

By setting up commission to study intelligence mistakes, George Bush wants to insure himself against election defeat.

Russia's Nezavisimaya gazeta by Dmitriy Suslov

Few analysts believe that Bush initiated the investigation because he wanted to.

Russia's Gazeta by Anton Ivanitskiy

Many analysts think any failure of the special services - if this was the case - is capable of inflicting only very limited political damage on Bush, as his administration never said that weapons of mass destruction were the main reason for the military invasion of Iraq, and the majority of the US population still supports the authorities' deposing of Saddam Hussein.

Russia's Rossiyskaya Gazeta by Vladimir Bogdanov

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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