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European Press Review: Looking into Iraq Intelligence

European newspapers focused on the decision by U.S. President Bush to hold an inquiry into the prewar intelligence reports about Iraqi stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction on Tuesday.

Commenting on Monday's decision by U.S. President George Bush to establish an independent and bipartisan inquiry into the integrity of intelligence reports used to justify the war on Iraq – the Financial Times explained that the inquiry will be "expected to ask how the intelligence agencies underestimated the threat posed by North Korea, Libya and Iran while failing to understand that Iraq no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction." The London based newspaper added that the commission should investigate the use of intelligence reports by politicians to support the case for war.

The fact that the announcement for an inquiry came first from the United States observed the British Independent is "a rare example of Bush outclassing Blair on political instinct." Bush ordered the inquiry almost immediately after his government’s chief weapons inspector, David Kay admitted Iraq did not have any WMD’s while 10 Downing Street was slow to pick up on the shift of White House opinion. The paper asserted that this makes Blair’s position unenviable, even if it was self-inflicted -- and unlike Bush, the paper believed that Blair, "needed Iraq’s weapons to win over public opinion before the war and he needs them still to support his judgement in taking Britain to war."

Meanwhile Italy’s La Republica newspaper wrote that the inquiry is a sign of Bush trying to minimise a possible political backlash against him. According to this Rome based paper, Bush is seizing the day in order to stop others from forcing him into a position where he would have to defend his decision to take his country to war against Iraq.

Bush was only told by the CIA what he wanted to hear, claimed Moscow's daily Kommersant. CIA director George Tenet has led his agency for a long time now and knows how to infer the will of the current administration wrote the paper which added that, "when asked whether Iraq has any weapons of mass destruction the CIA director understood that a yes answer was required." The paper noted that the intelligence agencies have done their president a disservice and will pay for it dearly.