The US intelligence community should not be made to shoulder full responsibility for misjudging Saddam Hussein's weapons capability ahead of last year's Iraq war, British newspapers said after a Senate investigation exonerated US politicians of blame.
The Financial Times described as "implausible" the investigation's decision to exonerate US President George W. Bush's administration from putting pressure on the intelligence agencies.
"Like all government organizations, the Central Intelligence Agency devotes its limited resources to meeting the demands of its political masters," the business daily said.
It added that it was the "politicians who must account for the death and destruction of the Iraq war -- and the consequences as they continue to unfold".
The Times was equally critical of the Senate's findings.
"The CIA should not take all the blame on Iraq and WMD," it said.
"Above all, the failure of politicians to ask sufficiently robust questions about the intelligence they received should not be forgotten."
A Senate investigation concluded on Friday that the US intelligence community "mischaracterized" Iraq's weapons of mass destruction through "a series of failures".
The inquiry found that the intelligence community's key judgments were either overstated or not backed up by intelligence reporting.
The Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence, however, that the Bush administration pressured CIA analysts to modify their judgments of Iraq's WMD.
Britain's press meanwhile looked ahead to an inquiry into flawed British intelligence on Iraq set to report next Wednesday.
"If the US Intelligence Committee report is anything to go by, (Britain's inquiry) will voice important criticisms but bring us little nearer to understanding how it all went so wrong and who was responsible," The Independent said.
The inquiry, called by Prime Minister Tony Blair to look into the intelligence behind his decision to take Britain into the Iraq war, is headed by Lord Robin Butler, a former veteran senior civil servant.
The Butler report "will echo many" of the same criticisms outlined by the Senate inquiry, the Financial Times said.
The Daily Telegraph said errors by the CIA "was a failure shared by anyone who was anyone in the cloak-and-dagger business. That applies to our own secret services, too."
A view shard by The Times, which said:
"The CIA depended on other services for inside information. It is probable that (Britain's foreign intelligence service) MI6 was one of those organizations which obtained information that has come to look dubious."
Such a conclusion next week would bring relief to Blair, The Daily Telegraph said.
"Tony Blair will no doubt be pleased if the Butler inquiry... turns out to be as favorable to him as the report of the Senate Select Committee," it said.
Various findings from the Butler report have been leaked to the British press over recent days.
A meeting between British government officials in March 2002, a year before the Iraq war, decided that available intelligence was not strong enough to support the case for military action, the report will say, according to the Financial Times on Saturday.
The report will add that that Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw overruled senior advisors on the legality of the Iraq war, London's Evening Standard said Friday.
The Independent said the inquiry would include personal criticism of Britain's intelligence chiefs, including John Scarlett, who since the Iraq war has been named head of MI6.
© Copyright 2004 AFP