U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday the Bush administration last year told him and other senators that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities.
Nelson, D-Tallahassee, said about 75 senators got that news during a classified briefing before last October's congressional vote authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nelson voted in favor of using military force.
Nelson said he couldn't reveal who in the administration gave the briefing.
The White House directed questions about the matter to the Department of Defense. Defense officials had no comment on Nelson's claim.
Nelson said the senators were told Iraq had both biological and chemical weapons, notably anthrax, and it could deliver them to cities along the Eastern seaboard via unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones.
'They have not found anything that resembles an UAV that has that capability,' Nelson said.
Nelson delivered the news during a half-hour conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. The senator, who is on a seven-nation trade mission to South America, was calling from an airport in Santiago, Chile.
'That's news,' said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington, D.C.-area military and intelligence think tank. 'I had not heard that that was the assessment of the intelligence community. I had not heard that the Congress had been briefed on this.'
Since the late 1990s, there have been several reports that Iraq was converting a fleet of Czechoslovakian jet fighters into UAVs, as well as testing smaller drones...
Huh? This is "local news" in Florida Today? Doesn't make sense. This ought to be front page news in the New York Times. I'm assuming it's a mistake of some time. If this were really the intelligence briefing our senators got then things are even worse than I'd imagined.