Blix likens Iraq war to witch hunt
Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Tuesday likened the runup to the war in Iraq to a witch hunt, and argued that the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction would dent the public's faith in the U.S. and British governments.
"The governments were like the witch hunters of past centuries. They were so convinced that there were witches in Iraq that every black cat became proof of it," Blix said in Barcelona where he was honored by the United Nations Association of Spain.
"The tendency was to view any evidence in a more serious light than was the reality. It's clear that the Sept. 11 attack on the United States drove the analysis," he added.
The White House dismissed the criticism.
"Maybe Mr. Blix felt we should trust in the good intentions of Saddam Hussein," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "In a post-Sept. 11 world, the president understood we could not afford to trust in the good intentions of a madman who continued to defy the international community."
Blix said that intelligence information from the United States and other countries was exaggerated, and that politicians should have asked more critical questions.
"They were mistaken in their views, but I don't think they acted in bad faith," Blix said, referring to U.S. President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders who supported the war. "The consequences of that are political. Now people have less confidence in them."
Blix received the group's peace prize, recognizing his efforts in trying to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq conflict. The Swede led the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and pushed for prolonging the search before taking military action.