Friday, June 20, 2003

Bush Administration Knew Iraqi WMD Proof Was Forged

"(...)The question arises again because of a bitter dispute, in part between the CIA and the White House, about how President Bush came to make a representation about an Iraqi nuclear program known in the intelligence community to be based on forged documents.

In his January State of the Union address, Mr. Bush spoke of an advanced Iraqi nuclear-weapons program in the '90s, and added, 'The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'

If true, that would have been the first solid indication of a current Iraqi nuclear-weapons program. But, apparently, it wasn't true. The New York Times reported 11 months earlier that the CIA, at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney, had sent to Niger a knowledgeable retired ambassador (whose name was withheld) to investigate reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there.

The diplomat brought back word that the government of Niger denied any such dealings with Iraq, and the documents on which the allegation was based were patent forgeries. How, under the circumstances, the president could give credence to the uranium canard in a speech almost a year later is hard to imagine.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said it hadn't been realized in the White House that the report wasn't credible until after the president had spoken. That suggests that the CIA kept the White House ignorant - which CIA officials deny.(...) "

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