Bush on WMD fact-finding mission

US President George W Bush said Friday demanded clarification on what his country knew about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction before the decision was taken to invade the Middle Eastern country.

“I too want to know the facts,” Mr Bush said.

“I want to be able to compare what the Iraq Survey Group has found with what we thought was there prior to going into Iraq.”

Mr Bush’s comments came amid calls for an independent inquiry into prewar intelligence reports on Iraq, as the Pentagon used this data to justify war against Saddam Hussein.

David Kay, chief of the Iraqi Survey Group, resigned last week, saying the search for WMD would prove futile as Iraq had no stockpiles of banned weapons before the war.

He has since called for an independent inquiry into the case for war.

And Senator Diane Feinstein has come forward to support a resolution seeking an independent investigation.

Mr Bush added: “We dealt with the danger, and as a result the world is a better place and a more peaceful place, and the Iraqi people are free, and a free Iraq is in this nation’s national interest.

“A free Iraq will bring a much-needed change in a part of the world that has fostered terror.”

Separately, the US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, says the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war may have been flawed.

She said the international community would never know what happened to Iraq’s WMD because of the looting in the country.

Ms Rice told CBS’s Early Show: “I think that what we have is evidence that there are differences between what we knew was going in and what we found on the ground.

“When you are dealing with secretive regimes that want to deceive, you’re never going to be able to be positive about intelligence.”

It is unclear whether Mr Bush will grant the go-ahead for an independent inquiry. Should he do so, Mr Blair will find it increasingly difficult to ward off calls for a similar investigation on the home front.