Bush names 7 of 9 members of commission on Iraq intel - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Bush names 7 of 9 members of commission on Iraq intel

(White House-AP) Feb. 6, 2004 - A former Democratic senator and a retired Republican judge will be heading the investigation into US intelligence failures in Iraq. President Bush told reporters Friday he's naming former Senator Chuck Robb and retired judge Laurence Silberman to chair the panel.

He also named five other members, including Republican Senator John McCain, leaving two more members still to be appointed. Bush says the commission will report to the nation by March of next year and that he's told federal agencies to cooperate with it.

He's been under increasing pressure from Democrats since the former chief U-S weapons inspector, David Kay, said he didn't think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the start of the war.

The president's been meeting with Charles Duelfer, the arms expert who's taking over the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush said he's "determined to figure out why" some pre-war assessments of Iraq's intelligence have not been confirmed. But, he continues to defend the decision to go to war, saying he's not going to risk Americans' security by "assuming the good will of dictators."

Democratic presidential hopefuls have denounced Bush's nine-member commission as a ploy, noting he's choosing all its members and telling them not to report 'till after the election.

CIA director George Tenet on Thursday defended his agency's pre-war intelligence on Iraq, saying history will prove it at least partially correct. 

The president says even if forbidden stockpiles haven't been found in Iraq his decision to go to war was still the right one.

The group's formation is taking place after the former head of an Iraqi inspection team concluded that Iraq didn't have forbidden weapons and the US had erroneous intelligence. Officials say the commission will have access to the findings of the Iraq Survey Group, which is still looking for weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad.

updated 3:35pm by Chris Rees

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