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[casi] Senator receives Blix letter

Levin Seeks Release of WMD Intelligence
By KEN GUGGENHEIM, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A Democratic senator urged the CIA  on Monday to release
information that he said would prove the United States withheld from U.N.
inspectors key information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has said for months that CIA Director George
Tenet's open statements about how much intelligence was shared with
inspectors contradict classified information. The contradictions show the
need for a Senate investigation into whether U.S. intelligence on Iraq's
weapons programs was "shaded or exaggerated," he said.

"If Director Tenet said that we have done something in terms of sharing
information with the U.N. which was not factually accurate, that is part of
the same question," said Levin, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee
and a member of the Intelligence Committee.

Republican leaders of both committees have rejected Democrats' calls for a
formal investigation, contending there is no sign of wrongdoing, and said
the committees will review the intelligence as part of their regular
oversight processes. In the House, Democrats and Republicans on the
Intelligence Committee have agreed to hold a review.

Levin said of 550 suspected weapons sites, 150 were considered "top suspect
sites," according to recently declassified figures. Of those 150, a secret
number were considered high and medium priority sites.

Tenet told lawmakers in February and March that U.N. inspectors were briefed
on all the "high value and moderate value sites." Levin said classified
figures show that wasn't true and has urged Tenet to declassify the number
of those sites and the number of sites that had been provided to the United
Nations (news - web sites).

In a May 23 letter to Levin, Tenet refused to release the figures, citing a
need to maintain secrecy in its relationships with international
organizations. By releasing the data, "we risk undermining our credibility
with other international organizations with whom we continue to interact,"
Tenet wrote.

Levin released Monday a letter dated last Wednesday that he received from
chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, saying he had no objection to making the
information public.

"In light of Dr. Blix's letter to me, I know of no legitimate reason for
keeping those numbers classified any longer," Levin said.

A CIA spokesman would not comment.

Levin said if Americans had known that not all information about top weapons
sites had been shared with inspectors, "there could have been greater public
demand that the inspection process continue."

He said his main concern is whether future U.S. intelligence would be viewed
as objective and accurate.

"It undermines the credibility of the director of intelligence to be making
public statements relative to intelligence which are not factually
accurate," Levin said.

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