Former PM John Howard has played down the significance of a New York Times report that intelligence gathered in Australia helped galvanise George W Bush.

Former prime minister John Howard has played down the significance of a fragment of intelligence gathered in Australia that is reported to have galvanised then US president George W. Bushs determination to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein.
In a lengthy piece on US deliberations in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, The New York Times reported on Friday that National Security Agency intercepts had picked up instructions from an Iraqi general to an Iraqi agent based in Australia to buy equipment for unmanned aerial vehicles.
John Howard backed George W. Bush in the war on Iraq.  Andrew Meares
The shopping list given to the Australian equipment distributor in the autumn of 2002 included Garmin GPS software that included maps of major American cities.
The distributor contacted authorities and the information found its way into Mr Bushs daily intelligence briefing. One of the presidents advisers told the newspaper this was a turning point for Mr Bush as it was the first piece of intelligence showing that Iraq planned to attack the US.
However, the newspaper said there was an innocent explanation. When questioned by two CIA analysts and an Australian intelligence officer, the Iraqi man said he had been interested in just the GPS hardware, and had bought the maps software only because the hardware would not work without it.