Thursday :: Jun 12, 2003

Condi Gets Caught in a Big Lie - Bush Knew There Was No Factual Basis for His Niger Uranium Story in the 2003 SOTU


by Steve

Condi Rice lied to Tim Russert over the weekend.

Contrary to what Rice said over the weekend, the White House did in fact know that the Niger uranium story was never proved when George W. Bush repeated it in his 2003 State of the Union speech.

In addition to the WMD stories that are unraveling, now the Niger uranium story that Bush used falsely in his speech to the nation is now unraveling as well. You will remember earlier today that the Washington Post ran with a story that the CIA did not pass along information it had to the White House that the Niger uranium story was false before Bush and Powell ran with it. Well, guess what?

Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder Newspapers reported today that contrary to what Condi Rice said just this weekend, the White House knew at the time of Bush’s 2003 SOTU that the CIA couldn’t prove the allegations that Bush was making. In fact, contrary to the Washington Post’s story today, “senior CIA officials” gave the exact date of when they notified the White House of their findings that the story was crap: March 9, 2002, a full ten months before Bush’s SOTU speech. This same story was given today by the CIA to the Associated Press as well. It appears that George Tenet has the best quick-response team in town, and has no plans to take one for Bush.

Making his case for war with Iraq, President Bush in his State of the Union address this year accused Saddam Hussein of trying to buy uranium from Africa even though the CIA had warned White House and other officials that the story didn't check out.

A senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the intelligence agency informed the White House on March 9, 2002 - 10 months before Bush's nationally televised speech - that an agency source who had traveled to Niger couldn't confirm European intelligence reports that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from the West African country.

Despite the CIA's misgivings, Bush said in his State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa."

Three senior administration officials said Vice President Dick Cheney and some officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon ignored the CIA's reservations and argued that the president and others should include the allegation in their case against Saddam.

The claim later turned out to be based on crude forgeries that an African diplomat had sold to Italian intelligence officials. The CIA's March 2002 warning about Iraq's alleged uranium-shopping expedition in Niger was sent to the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department and the FBI the same day it went to the White House, the senior CIA official said.

In the months before Bush's State of the Union speech, the senior CIA official said, agency officials also told the State Department, National Security Council staffers and members of Congress that they doubted that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium from Niger.

One senior administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because the intelligence reports remain classified, said the CIA's doubts were well known and widely shared throughout the government before Bush's speech.

Christ, does it appear to you that a lot of senior administration officials are freely talking about these lies?

But just this past Sunday, Condi Rice lied about all this.

On last Sunday's television talk shows, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the White House was unaware of the CIA's doubts.

"Maybe someone knew in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery," she said on NBC.

This is remarkable. The NSA tells a bald-faced lie to Russert on national TV, and less than a week later senior intelligence officials expose her for the lies.

On top of this, in tomorrow’s NY Times, columnist Nick Kristoff points out that someone is lying about this.

If anyone thinks the CIA is going to lay down and take one for Bush, they are mistaken. Karl cannot control the spooks. They will be here long after Rove leaves.

Moreover, the credibility of the NSA is gone. Tell Russert this by emailing him at mtp@nbc.com

Steve :: 11:26 PM :: Comments (19) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!