WASHINGTON -- In its first official meeting yesterday, the president's commission investigating flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction heard from David Kay, the former Iraq weapons inspector whose criticism helped bring about the panel's creation.
Kay, along with about a dozen other experts, appeared before the commission in a closed seven-hour session to brief the nine commissioners as they begin sorting out the quality of US intelligence regarding the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
President Bush formed the commission -- called the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction -- in February after increasing criticism involving prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. Their existence was a key argument for the war that removed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power.
Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group that is searching for the banned weapons, reinvigorated the debate on the war's justification when he resigned in January and questioned whether weapons of mass destruction would ever be found.
Kay did not return calls seeking comment after his commission appearance.
The panel also heard yesterday from current and former Iraq Survey Group officials and members of the National Intelligence Council. Commission spokesman Larry McQuillan declined to identify the other individuals.
The meeting focused primarily on Iraq, although the commission will be looking at the threat from other countries and terrorist networks, according to a statement from the commission chairmen, former senator Chuck Robb, a Democrat from Virginia, and Republican Laurence Silberman, a senior judge on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The panel will reconvene today to hear from about a dozen more specialists , McQuillan said.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said yesterday it inadvertently failed to give the Senate Armed Services Committee a full copy of the 6,000-page Army investigation into the prison abuse scandal.
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said no critical information was withheld and the Defense Department would submit the missing documents to the panel.
Chairman John Warner, Republican of Virginia, sent a memo to committee members yesterday saying that he continues ''to believe that the department is working in good faith with the committee to provide a complete copy of the Taguba report."