updated 6/14/2004 8:30:35 AM ET 2004-06-14T12:30:35

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee are accusing the CIA of trying to delay release of the panel’s report that criticizes the agency for overestimating the prewar threat posed by Iraq.

“I’m not sure whether it’s because they don’t want to be embarrassed,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat.

“For some reason they’re delaying it. They don’t want it out,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

The CIA was given most of the committee’s report several weeks ago for declassification and fact-checking. The report examines intelligence failures on Iraq, including the flawed weapons estimates.

“They were supposed to have that back to us in two weeks, then three, and it’s now four,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the committee’s chairman.

He said the committee’s review is “not a flattering picture. The report by itself is not a good news report.”

CIA spokesman Tom Crispell, asked for a response by The Associated Press, said: “We will continue to work with the committee in order to deal with these issues.”

The senators declined to discuss details of the report, but Roberts said the weapons issue “was a global failure of all of the world intelligence agencies.”

“It was an assumption train, and the assumptions were wrong,” Roberts said.

The committee may bypass the CIA and approve making public the report’s conclusions “to force its release,” Rockefeller said.

The CIA is reviewing the report to make sure its factual and that classified information is not dispersed, Roberts said. But, he said, “It’s been long enough.”

“The American people have a right to know, and we will get this report out one way or the other,” he said.

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