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Boro pols call for inquiry into handling of Iraq info

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With politicians around the country questioning President George W. Bush’s statement on Iraq’s supposed effort to acquire nuclear weapons, several members of the Queens congressional delegation have called for an investigation into the nation’s intelligence network.

But of the four borough representatives who voted for the war in October — Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens) — only Maloney said recent revelations made her rethink her decision.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) was the only member of the Queens delegation to vote against going to war in Iraq.

Ackerman and Maloney have called for a special congressional inquiry into how the president handled intelligence on Iraq, while Meeks wants a probe into how the U.S. intelligence community is gathering information.

Ackerman said members of the Bush administration may have violated their oaths of office by knowingly using flawed intelligence reports to make their case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“I’m calling for a congressional investigat­ion,” he said. “It may have to result in a special prosecutor.”

In his State of the Union address in January, Bush told the American public that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger to build nuclear weapons.

But the Central Intelligence Agency recently raised doubts about whether documents leading to Bush’s statement were authentic.

As a result, many politicians, including some Democratic presidential candidates, have accused Bush of trying to manipulate public opinion with false information.

While Ackerman and Maloney urged an investigation into Bush administra­tion’s use of intelligence, Meeks recommended a study of the intelligence itself.

“We should at least spend some money to start investigating what our intelligence is doing,” Meeks said at a community breakfast in Cambria Heights Saturday morning. “If the president had bad intelligence, then let’s investigate our intelligence agencies.”

Maloney, who told the TimesLedger in October that her vote on Iraq was “probably the most difficult I’ve cast,” has been re-evaluating her decision.

“If the Congress was intentionally misled on the issue of Iraq’s imminent threat to the U.S., I would regret my vote,” she said in a prepared statement. “The serious questions that continue to emerge about these issues should only be fully explored and resolved in a special inquiry, where the officials involved can present testimony and answer questions that the public deserves to know.”

The borough’s other representatives, however, stood by their vote.

“Weapons of mass destruction was a compelling argument, but also compelling is that Saddam Hussein was proven to have killed tens of thousands of people,” said Crowley. “He was a menace to his own society and to his neighbors and continued to be a menace to the world...”

Weiner said he was skeptical about whether or not Iraq had nuclear capabilities before the war, but he said he thought force was justified regardless.

“I think to a certain degree the members of the [United Nations] Security Council’s unwillingness to show they were serious about disarming Iraq made war almost inevitable,” he said.

Despite his strident criticism of the president, Ackerman also said he would not change his vote.

“I would’ve been there anyway,” he said. “I believe evil has to be confronted. When madmen ascend to power and commit heinous crimes upon masses of people, the world should not just take note but should act.”

The TimesLedger staff contributed to this story.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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