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The director of the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), Frank Lewincamp, confirms that Bush "exaggerated" the WMD threat.
The director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, Frank Lewincamp, has revealed himself as the source of a newspaper story claiming the Federal Government was told the United States had exaggerated prewar claims on Iraq's illicit weapons.
But Mr Lewincamp has denied many of the statements attributed to him by journalist Mark Forbes, who quoted "one of Australia's most senior intelligence officials" in The Age on Saturday.
In a saga with echoes of the British controversy involving weapons expert David Kelly and BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, Mr Lewincamp admitted he said that Iraq's WMD program was latent and the extent of its weapons unknown.
These comments had previously been relayed to the Senate, Mr Lewincamp said in a statement read to the Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee yesterday.
"[But] I have never said that the Bush administration's claims justifying an invasion were exaggerated. Nor have I said that the Government was told that Iraq WMD did not pose an immediate threat. . . . There are judgements in there with which I disagree and views that I do not hold."
Mr Lewincamp said Forbes, who is studying at the Australian National University, had attended a seminar he presented in September last year.
"The seminar was conducted under the Chatham House rules," he said. "There was a further injunction given clearly to the students, including to Mr Forbes, both before and after my presentation that there be no attribution, citing or disclosure of any of the information."
However, Mr Lewincamp did not address other claims attributed to him in the article.
These include that he told the students the prospect of a "self-sustaining Iraqi government and peacekeeping force were nil", and that he was asked by a cabinet minister, believed to be Defence Minister Robert Hill, why his assessments were not as "gung-ho" as those of the US.
The article also quoted Mr Lewincamp saying the Iraqi threat did not justify its invasion.
The Department of Defence head, Ric Smith, said he had cautioned Mr Lewincamp about the risks of giving such seminars but would take no further action to discipline him.
The editor of The Age, Michael Gawenda, said he stood by the story's accuracy.
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