FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The US Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that a worldwide intelligence failure led to the belief that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the war, the panel's chairman said yesterday.
Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said he expected his committee to release at least part of the report next week, probably Wednesday.
Interviewed after a ceremony breaking ground for a new building, Roberts said the report generally concludes that intelligence agencies worldwide engineered an ''assumption train" that led them to conclude that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Roberts said various Iraqi military officials thought other Iraqi officials controlled weapons of mass destruction and that there was evidence that Iraq was poised to become the ''Grand Central Station" of a trade in such weapons.
''These conclusions literally beg for changes within the intelligence community," he said. ''What we had was a worldwide intelligence failure."
In Washington, the House Armed Services Committee's senior Democrat, Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, said the conclusions ''could very well be correct."
''The intelligence we got, particularly on Iraq and regarding weapons of mass destruction, just didn't turn out to be correct," Skelton said.
Roberts suggested that even Hussein believed his regime had weapons of mass destruction.
''People who had the WMD and all of that either kept it, sold it, hid it, so on and so forth," Roberts said.
''Saddam, I think, still thinks today that he had it," he said.
Roberts said the committee found that intelligence agencies did not rely enough on ''human intelligence" gathering after 1998. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, he said, intelligence agencies were more likely to base conclusions on incomplete information, because they were worried about further attack.
''What you had was a great intelligence assumption train," he said. ''Everybody assumed that Saddam Hussein would reconstitute his program.
''There was a lot of empirical evidence in regards to ties to terrorism, and so the assumption train just added on more cars," he said. ''It wasn't backed up by the necessary backup to make those kind of conclusions."
Last month, the former chief US weapons inspector, David Kay, suggested that no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq.