Powell gave U.N. ‘ambiguous’ data on WMD

The director of the National Security Agency acknowledges in a new book that audiotapes that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell aired before the United Nations last year to justify the need to confront Iraq offered “ambiguous” evidence that Baghdad was hiding banned weapons.

The comments by Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, who was interviewed by writer James Bamford, spotlight doubts among high-level intelligence officials about evidence the Bush administration used to explain why U.N. weapons inspections should cease and the United States should go to war.

At the time, Powell described the three tapes, which he played on Feb. 5, 2003, for the United Nations and international news media, as proof that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors. The tapes contained bits of conversations, intercepted by the NSA, among people Powell described as officers of Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard.


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