Kay Questions US Pre-Emptive
Strike Doctrine

By Jackie Frank

"If you cannot rely on good, accurate intelligence that is credible to the American people and to others abroad, you certainly can't have a policy of preemption."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The former top U.S. weapons hunter in Iraq, David Kay, said on Sunday flaws in U.S. intelligence in prewar Iraq brought into question President Bush's policy of pre-emptive strike against countries deemed a threat to the United States.
Bush based his decision to invade Iraq on what he called a "grave and gathering danger" posed by Iraq's biological and chemical weapons and warranted assertion of his post-Sept. 11, 2001, doctrine of pre-emptive military action to guard U.S. security in the face of new terror threats.
"If you cannot rely on good, accurate intelligence that is credible to the American people and to others abroad, you certainly can't have a policy of preemption," Kay said on Fox News Sunday.
"Pristine intelligence -- good, accurate intelligence -- is a fundamental benchstone of any sort of policy of preemption to even be thought about."
Kay, who resigned last week, concluded Iraq had no stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons, and the White House has said it will review its prewar intelligence.
Until the investigation is complete, Kay said, it would be difficult for the Bush administration to make a convincing case to allies for action in the next security crisis.
It is necessary, he said, that "they understand that we've taken the steps to be sure that we're correct and that, in fact, we're honest about what we're talking about," he said.
Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned of damage to U.S. credibility around the world as a result of the intelligence failures.
Recalling former French President Charles De Gaulle's statement that he so trusted President John F. Kennedy's word he did not need to see satellite photos of Soviet missiles near Cuba, Biden told CNN: "No leader in the world would respond to President Bush that way today."
Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, agreed the faulty intelligence needed to be addressed to prevent future miscalculations that damage U.S. credibility. "It's not just the intelligence capability ... the credibility of who we are around the world and the trust of our government and our leaders" is at stake, Hagel told CNN.
Kay noted that although Iraq did not have weapons, its corruption and political instability contributed to a willingness of people to sell their knowledge of how to build small amounts of banned weapons.
"A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened," Kay said.
What was available for sale was "the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what terrorists want. They don't want battlefield amounts of weapons."
The White House has acknowledged flaws in its intelligence gathering prior to the war, and was considering whether to endorse calls for an independent probe into the evidence used to justify the invasion of Iraq.
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