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The 'Snowball Effect' and Intel on Iraq's WMDs

The "echo effect," the "snowball effect" and false assumptions -- these were some of the reasons why intelligence agencies around the world were, to use former chief weapons inspector David Kay's phrase, "all wrong" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. European intelligence is often derivative of U.S. intelligence, and vice versa, creating trans-Atlantic echoes that seem to corroborate each other. Israeli assessments got analyzed by U.S. intelligence, which tended to bolster the assessment as they were passed on to other governments, creating the snowball effect. And governments around the world assumed that because they could not prove that Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must still have them. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports.

Copyright 2004 NPR

Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.