Person of the Week: David Kay

ByABC News
August 30, 2004, 2:37 PM

Jan. 30 -- David Kay, the former top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, testified before the Senate this week, telling the country he found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after eight months of looking. Simply put, according to Kay, U.S. intelligence got it wrong.

"Turns out we were all wrong probably and that is the most disturbing thing," Kay said during his testimony.

The senators' questioning made it very clear what a highly charged political issue the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had become. Democrats pressed their point that President Bush took the country to war under false pretenses. The Republican questions emphasized that the world was safer without Saddam Hussein and that the search for weapons wasn't over.

Kay, however, chose not to focus on the political aspects.

"What was running through my mind as I was sitting there for six hours was it's rather like a football fan who goes to the Super Bowl parties and all the other guests are advertising executives and they want to discuss the commercials, and I want to watch the football game," he said.

Kay told the senators he, in fact, thought the world was safer without Saddam Hussein. He dismissed the notion of whether there had ever been undue influence on his team to reach a certain conclusion.

Said Kay during the hearing: "You know, almost in a perverse way, I wish it had been undue influence because we know how to correct that. We get rid of the people who were in fact exercising that. The fact that it wasn't tells me that we have got a much more fundamental problem of understanding what went wrong."

Standoff With Saddam

In 1991, a few months after the end of the Persian Gulf War, Kay was working for the United Nations. He flew to Iraq to oversee the elimination of the country's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

"We went there with the expectation, or at least the hope, that the Iraqis were at least going to cooperate," he said. "[It] didn't take very long on my first mission to find out that wasn't going to be the case."