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CIA's Iraq plan shot down

Source: PTI
September 27, 2004 12:25 IST
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The Bush administration has been forced to scale back a plan proposing a covert CIA operation to aid candidates, favoured by Washington, in the Iraq elections after lawmakers raised questions about the idea when it was sent to Capitol Hill.

The plan, written several months ago, wanted to help such candidates "whose opponents might be receiving covert backing from other countries, like Iran" but not necessarily to go so far as to rig the elections, US media reports said.

But lawmakers, from both parties, raised questions about the idea when it was sent to Capitol Hill. In particular, house minority leader Nancy Pelosi "came unglued" when she learned about what a source described as a plan for "the CIA to put an operation in place to affect the outcome of the elections," said Time magazine.

Pelosi, Time said, had strong words with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in a phone call about the issue.

"I cannot in any way comment on classified matters, the existence or nonexistence of findings. But there have been and continue to be concerns about efforts by outsiders to influence the outcome of the Iraqi elections, including money flowing from Iran," Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack told the magazine.

"This raises concerns about whether there will be a level playing field for the election. In the final analysis, we have adopted a policy that we will not try to influence the outcome of the upcoming Iraqi election by covertly helping individual candidates for office," he said.

A senior US official hinted that, under pressure from the Hill, the Administration scaled back its original plans. During his visit to Washington and New York, interim Iraqi president had insisted that elections, scheduled for January, would go ahead despite increasing violence in the country.

Complete Coverage: The war in Iraq

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