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Thanks CIA! Niger Uranium Lie is 'Case Closed'

American ruler George W. Bush declares that the Niger Uranium forgery case is "closed." Whew... This is a load off my mind. I was starting to actually think that (gulp!) the American government was lying. Thanks CIA! We can always count on you to coverup...uh...explain a potentially explosive crime. Move along. Nothing to see.
Bush Considers Iraq Uranium Issue Closed
Sat Jul 12,12:17 PM ET Add White House - AP to My Yahoo!

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he had confidence in CIA Director George Tenet despite his agency's failure to warn Bush against making allegations about Iraq's nuclear weapons program later found false.

"Yes I do, absolutely," Bush said. "I've got confidence in George Tenet. I've got confidence in the men and women who work at the CIA and I look forward to working with them as we win this war on terror."

The president spoke in Abuja, Nigeria, at the end of a five-country trip through Africa.

Bush asserted in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought nuclear materials from Africa. Nearly six months later, the White House acknowledged the charge was false, and the tempest that followed has shadowed Bush on his five-country trip through Africa.

Bush considers the matter closed, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The president has moved on," he said.

In a carefully scripted mea culpa, the White House on Friday blamed the CIA for its January misstep, with Bush saying the CIA had reviewed his address and did not raise any alarms. Tenet finished the job hours later with a dramatic statement accepting responsibility.

The statement on Iraq seeking nuclear material "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed," Tenet said.

"It was a mistake," he added.

The one-two punch was designed to quell a growing political storm, fueled in part by members of Congress and Democratic presidential hopefuls, that challenged the credibility of the administration's arguments that Iraq was trying to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program before the U.S. invasion in March.

Administration officials said that despite the miscue they did not expect Tenet to resign. He is the lone holdover from the Clinton administration and, while distrusted by some conservatives, has enjoyed Bush's confidence.

"I've heard no discussion along those lines," CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said Friday night.

Tenet acknowledged Friday that the CIA had tried unsuccessfully for months to substantiate the British allegation on which the claim was based and that State Department intelligence analysts believed the intelligence was "highly dubious." Yet neither stopped Bush from making the claim in a single sentence of his annual address to the nation.

"These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president," Tenet conceded in a statement.

"First, CIA approved the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered," he said. "Second, I am responsible for the approval process in my agency. And third, the president had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound."

The director took his cue from Bush and Rice, who hours earlier blamed the error on the CIA.

"I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services," Bush told reporters in Uganda. If the CIA director had concerns about the information, "these doubts were not communicated to the president," Rice added.

Key members of Congress called for someone to be held accountable.

"The director of central intelligence is the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters. He should have told the president. He failed. He failed to do so," said Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

Tenet sought to answer what he called "legitimate questions" about the CIA's conduct.

He said CIA officials, after reviewing portions of the draft speech, raised some concerns with White House national security aides that prompted changes in the speech's language. But he said the CIA failed to prevent the remark from being uttered despite doubts about its validity.

CIA officials recognized at the beginning that the allegation was based on "fragmentary intelligence" gathered in late 2001 and early 2002, the director said.

But, he said: "From what we know now, agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa."

A former diplomat was sent by the CIA to the region to check on the allegations. He reported back that a Nigerian official he met said he was unaware of any contract signed during his tenure "between Niger and rogue states" for the sale of uranium, Tenet said.

But the former official also described a businessman approaching him in 1999, insisting on a meeting with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Iraq and Niger, Tenet said.

"The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales," Tenet said.

The diplomat has alleged that he believed Vice President Dick Cheney's office was apprised of the findings of his trip. But Tenet said the CIA did not brief the president, vice president or other senior administration officials.

British officials in fall 2002 discussed making the Niger information public. The CIA then expressed their reservations to the British about the quality of the intelligence, Tenet said.

A CIA report last October mentioned the allegations but did not give them full credence, stating "we cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore."

Because of the doubts, Tenet said he never included the allegations in his own congressional testimonies or public statements.

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Incredibly, Washington Post Politely Calls Bush on CIA Scapegoat Lie 13.Jul.2003 01:25

Washington Post

CIA Got Uranium Reference Cut in Oct.
Why Bush Cited It In Jan. Is Unclear

By Walter Pincus and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 13, 2003; Page A01


CIA Director George J. Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials.

Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used because it came from only a single source, according to one senior official. Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged.

The new disclosure suggests how eager the White House was in January to make Iraq's nuclear program a part of its case against Saddam Hussein even in the face of earlier objections by its own CIA director. It also appears to raise questions about the administration's explanation of how the faulty allegations were included in the State of the Union speech.

It is unclear why Tenet failed to intervene in January to prevent the questionable intelligence from appearing in the president's address to Congress when Tenet had intervened three months earlier in a much less symbolic speech. That failure may underlie his action Friday in taking responsibility for not stepping in again to question the reference. "I am responsible for the approval process in my agency," he said in Friday's statement.

As Bush left Africa yesterday to return to Washington from a five-day trip overshadowed by the intelligence blunder, he was asked whether he considered the matter over. "I do," he replied. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters yesterday that "the president has moved on. And I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on, as well."

But it is clear from the new disclosure about Tenet's intervention last October that the controversy continues to boil, and as new facts emerge a different picture is being presented than the administration has given to date.

Details about the alleged attempt by Iraq to buy as much as 500 tons of uranium oxide were contained in a national intelligence estimate (NIE) that was concluded in late September 2002. It was that same reference that the White House wanted to use in Bush's Oct. 7 speech that Tenet blocked, the sources said. That same intelligence report was the basis for the 16-word sentence about Iraq attempting to buy uranium in Africa that was contained in the January State of the Union address that has drawn recent attention.

Administration sources said White House officials, particularly those in the office of Vice President Cheney, insisted on including Hussein's quest for a nuclear weapon as a prominent part of their public case for war in Iraq. Cheney had made the potential threat of Hussein having a nuclear weapon a central theme of his August 2002 speeches that began the public buildup toward war with Baghdad.

In the Oct. 7 Cincinnati speech, the president for the first time outlined in detail the threat Hussein posed to the United States on the eve of a congressional vote authorizing war. Bush talked in part about "evidence" indicating that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. The president listed Hussein's "numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists," satellite photographs showing former nuclear facilities were being rebuilt, and Iraq's attempts to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes for use in enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.

There was, however, no mention of Niger or even attempts to purchase uranium from other African countries, which was contained in the NIE and also included in a British intelligence dossier that had been published a month earlier.

By January, when conversations took place with CIA personnel over what could be in the president's State of the Union speech, White House officials again sought to use the Niger reference since it still was in the NIE.

"We followed the NIE and hoped there was more intelligence to support it," a senior administration official said yesterday. When told there was nothing new, White House officials backed off, and as a result "seeking uranium from Niger was never in drafts," he said.

Tenet raised no personal objection to the ultimate inclusion of the sentence, attributed to Britain, about Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa. His statement on Friday said he should have. "These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president," the CIA director said.

Bush said in Abuja, Nigeria, yesterday that he continues to have faith in Tenet. "I do, absolutely," he said. "I've got confidence in George Tenet; I've got confidence in the men and women who work at the CIA."

There is still much that remains unclear about who specifically wanted the information inserted in the State of the Union speech, or why repeated concerns about the allegations were ignored.

"The information was available within the system that should have caught this kind of big mistake," a former Bush administration official said. "The question is how the management of the system, and the process that supported it, allowed this kind of misinformation to be used and embarrass the president."

Senior Bush aides said they do not believe they have a communication problem within the White House that prevented them from acting on any of the misgivings about the information that were being expressed at lower levels of the government.

"I'm sure there will have to be some retracing of steps, and that's what's happening," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said. "The mechanical process, we think is fine. Will more people now give more, tighter scrutiny going forward? Of course."

A senior administration official said Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael J. Gerson, does not remember who wrote the line that has wound up causing the White House so much grief.

Officials said three speechwriters were at the core of the State of the Union team, and that they worked from evidence against Iraq provided by the National Security Council. NSC officials dealt with the CIA both in gathering material for the speech and later in vetting the drafts.

Officials involved in preparing the speech said there was much more internal debate over the next line of the speech, when Bush said in reference to Hussein, "Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in his Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations, noted a disagreement about Iraq's intentions for the tubes, which can be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium. The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency had raised those questions two weeks before the State of the Union address, saying Hussein claimed nonnuclear intentions for the tubes. In March, the IAEA said it found Hussein's claim credible, and could all but rule out the use of the tubes in a nuclear program.

Staff writer Dana Milbank contributed to this report from Nigeria.

2003 The Washington Post Company


What's really going on... 14.Jul.2003 00:38

repost

This article from the Washington Post is very significant especially given the fact that it was penned by known CIA shill, Walter Pincus. As Mike Ruppert suggests, the entire "scandal" about the WMD lies and the Niger Uranium issue is reflective of deeper Political battles and wars inside the US political esetablishment. In particular, it seems that that corporate and financial masters of the USA believe that the Bush Regime needs to be "eased out of office" one way or another. The issue of the WMDs and the Niger Uranium--like the Nixon Watergate tapes a generation ago--will be the pretext used to dump the Bushes, only to be replaced by a kinder, gentler set of managers who will implement the same basic agenda.

As Ruppert says:

THE MEDIA MASSES - THE MIGHTY WURLITZER PLAYS

Not since the Watergate scandal of 1972-4 has a crescendo of press stories been more carefully crafted. And it is because of this that we can see many historical connections to Watergate - a coup that took down a President who believed he was invincible....

But who (and what) is the media serving?

Of all of these stories, it is the June 22 front-page Washington Post story by Walter Pincus that tells me that Bush is cooked. Pincus is a CIA mouthpiece who wrote a 1967 column titled, "How I traveled the world on a CIA stipend." He was the major damage control spokesman when Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Webb's 1996 stories blew the lid off of CIA connections to Contra-connected cocaine being smuggled into Los Angeles. If any journalist is a weathervane for the tides of political fortune in a scandal like this it is Pincus. His role, though likely to be shared with other press organizations, will be the same as Woodward and Bernstein's in Watergate.