LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair will follow the US lead and appoint a commission to investigate faulty intelligence that he cited in joining the United States in going to war with Iraq, a spokesman said yesterday.
Blair was expected to use an appearance before a parliamentary committee today to announce an official inquiry. The announcement would come just days after a senior judge cleared the British government of allegations it distorted what it knew about Iraq's weapons programs to build a case for war.
"Mr. Blair will announce on Tuesday morning some sort of inquiry about the intelligence of Iraq's weapons before the war," a Blair spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
The spokesman would not provide details about the probe and declined to say whether Blair would support calls for an inquiry committee of legislators from both houses of Parliament, with an independent chairman.
The British government previously rejected calls for an inquiry. But yesterday, Blair's spokesman said last week's ruling by senior Judge Lord Hutton that the government had not "sexed up" intelligence cleared the air and allowed for a rational discussion of Iraqi weapons.
The Blair spokesman said that British officials had "been talking with the Bush administration and were keeping in close touch with their thinking on how to approach this issue."
President Bush announced yesterday he would name an independent, bipartisan inquiry into faulty intelligence in Iraq and intelligence gaps concerning other areas -- including Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups. Bush did not set a timetable for the investigation.
The threat posed by Iraq's alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons was Blair's main argument for war. No such weapons have been found, and David Kay, the former head of the US-led inspection team, has said he doesn't believe any will be.
Yesterday, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the failure to find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "has damaged the credibility of the US and the United Kingdom in their conduct of the war against terrorism."
Pressure had been growing for an inquiry since Kay, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, quit last month. Kay told Congress last week that "it turns out we were all wrong, probably" about the Iraqi threat. Before last year's war, Blair maintained that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.