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U.S. TRICKED BY IRAQI DISINFO?

The hunt for Saddam's WMD is going so badly that U.S. officials are starting to wonder whether they've been tricked by Iraqi double-agents, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent "double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites."They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources," said the senior intelligence official. "Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests ... and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us..."One U.S. intelligence official said analysts may have been too eager to find evidence to support the White House's claims. As a result, he said, defectors "were just telling us what we wanted to hear."Hussein's motives for such a deliberate disinformation scheme may have been to bluff his enemies abroad, from Washington to Tehran, by sending false signals of his military might. Experts also say the dictator's defiance of the West, and its fear of his purported weapons of mass destruction, boosted his prestige at home and was a critical part of his power base in the Arab world...The current focus on Iraqi defectors reflects a new skepticism within the Iraq Survey Group, the 1,400-member team responsible for finding any illicit arms. In interviews, several current and former members expressed growing disappointment over the inconclusive results of the search so far."We were prisoners of our own beliefs," said a senior U.S. weapons expert who recently returned from a stint with the survey group. "We said Saddam Hussein was a master of denial and deception. Then when we couldn't find anything, we said that proved it, instead of questioning our own assumptions."
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