According to the US ABC:
To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war ? a global show of American power and democracy.
Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans. "We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
Officials now say they may not find hundreds of tons of mustard and nerve agents and maybe not thousands of liters of anthrax and other toxins. But U.S. forces will find some, they say. On Thursday, President Bush raised the possibility for the first time that any such Iraqi weapons were destroyed before or during the war.
From the London Times
WHY have American and British Forces not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? The most plausible answer is that there are none, in the true sense of the word, even though forces are likely eventually to come across some very unpleasant weapons created by Saddam Hussein.
But Tony Blair and President Bush cannot give this answer, as they asserted unambiguously that these weapons existed in justifying the war. So members of Blair?s Cabinet and Bush?s Administration have felt obliged to offer less plausible accounts of where the elusive weapons might be.
The most ambitious so far were put forward yesterday by Geoff Hoon, the Defense Secretary, in a fabulously implausible narrative which contradicted earlier statements by his Prime Minister, his colleagues and himself.
It is an understatement to say that the failure to find such weapons is an embarrassment for the British and American governments. Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, was always very careful to say that he was looking for weapons which were ?unaccounted for?, discrepancies between what Iraq could have produced and what it had declared.
Blix never said they definitely existed. But Blair, Bush and their henchmen stepped repeatedly over that line, particularly in the frenetic and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to secure the backing of a second UN resolution.
This raises a crucial constitutional principle. A minister who misleads the House must resign. On 18 March the prime minister told the House of Representatives:
For 12 years, Saddam Hussein has forced his nation to endure stringent economic sanctions and pariah status rather than give up his weapons of mass destruction. The presence of weapons inspectors has hindered and irritated him but has never stopped his weapons programs. Even during the first four years of weapons inspections, when the inspectors perceived they were making real progress, Iraq continued to develop and successfully conceal biological weapons. Luckily, a series of defectors blew the whistle on some of Iraq's prohibited weapons programs, forcing the Iraqi regime to reveal one of the most sophisticated and expansive offensive biological programs in the world; but we cannot expect always to be so lucky. Inspectors were ordered out of Iraq before they could finish dismantling it. The available intelligence indicates that, since the departure of inspectors in 1998, Saddam has continued to work on his chemical and biological capabilities and has maintained his nuclear aspirations.
Even under the threat of force he has only engaged reluctantly in token, piecemeal destruction of weapons and continues to deny the existence of weapons programs. Even with over 200,000 coalition troops massed at his borders he quibbles about how interviews are to be conducted with his scientists and how many of the reconnaissance aircraft supporting the inspectors can fly at any one time. After 12 years, he does not believe that the international community has the will to act. In that he has made a terrible error of judgement.
The prime minister of Australia has mislead the parliament in relation to a matter of war and peace. In the alternative the prime minister could argue that the government of the United States deliberately caused him to mislead the house. He has no choice. He must go.
Link to US ABC report courtesy of Atrios.