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Iraq Uranium Intel: "Fake But True"
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, April 10, 2006

While we can parse the most accurate way to say "the Bush administration issued grossly and willfully misleading statements on the state of Iraq intelligence", it's becoming clear to me that the statement is quite accurate...
[Colin Powell] told three other reporters for The Times that intelligence agencies had essentially rejected that contention [that Baghdad had been vigorously seeking to acquire uranium from Africa], and were "no longer carrying it as a credible item" by early 2003, when he was preparing to make the case against Iraq at the United Nations.

Mr. Powell's queasiness with some of the intelligence has been well known, but the new revelations suggest that long after he had concluded the intelligence was faulty, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were still promoting it.
To put the nicest, most pro-administration spin on it, the administration was what you might call selective in releasing information. And that the administration had a highly unorthodox view of the term "key judgement".
At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.

In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.
As with much of the intelligence on Iraqi WMDs, there was conflicting evidence, conflicting judgements and a great deal of uncertainty in the Intelligence community. This was not merely the occassional cautious skepticism; our intelligence services generally lacked first hand intel data on Iraq. They were operating in the dark and their judgements were guess-work.

That's understandable. That's the nature of intelligence operations. But the administration passed those judgements through a political sieve and we only got the information that supported the administration's political goals.

What's more, in an effort to settle the uranium story, the Pentagon asked for "an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council". Their reply, in a "January 2003 memo" was "unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest." Yet the story persisted.

The semantics of the word "lie" aside — and regardless of whether some of their accusations were true — it's fairly clear that, at least in some instances, the administration's case for war was partly manufactured; a political spin-job: "fake but true".
 
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And that the administration had a highly unorthodox view of the term "key judgement".
So the Administration’s referring to this was all basically a "lie"? (emphasis added):
Confidence Levels for Selected Key Judgments in This Estimate


High Confidence

Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its
chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary
to UN resolutions.

We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.
Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons
and missiles.
Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once
it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.

* * * * * * * * * *

Uranium Acquisition. Iraq retains approximately two-and-a-
half tons of 2.5 percent enriched uranium oxide, which the
IAEA permits. This low-enriched material could be used as
feed material to produce enough HEU for about two nuclear
weapons. The use of enriched feed material also would reduce
the initial number of centrifuges that Baghdad would need by
about half, Iraq could divert this material—the IAEA
inspects it only once a year—and enrich it to weapons grade
before a subsequent inspection discovered it was missing. The
IAEA last inspected this material in late January 2002.
Iraq has about 550 metric tons of yellowcake and low-
enriched uranium at Tuwaitha, which is inspected annually by
the IAEA, Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure
uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten
the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.
A foreign government service reported that as of early
2001, Niger planned to send several tons of ``pure uranium’’
(probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and
Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this
deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do
not know the status of this arrangement.
Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from
Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring
uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.
Reports
suggest Iraq is shifting from domestic mining and milling of
uranium to foreign acquisition. Iraq possesses significant
phosphate deposits, from which uranium had been chemically
extracted before Operation Desert Storm. Intelligence
information on whether nuclear-related phosphate mining and/
or processing has been reestablished is inconclusive,
however.
Moreover, didn’t the Butler Report (at p.123, 125) conclude that:
on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government’s dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

’The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa’

was well-founded.
(h/t: Gateway Pundit).

In order to push the idea that the Administration was being "selective in releasing information" one would have to assume that the opposing information was not publicly available. This would be a poor assumption.

Most importantly, look at those "Key Judgments" again and tell me how there was no concensus in the Intelligence community that Iraq was seeking to reconstitute it’s nuclear weapons program.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
You’re referring to broad statements. I’m referring to specific statements, which were, contra claims, not among the key judgments that had been "identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document", and had been called "baseless".

You can argue all day that some data suggested it might be true, but that’s exactly the problem. We were asked to make decisions based on information which was not only incomplete — it was intentionally and selectively filtered. It’s necessary in policy formulation to evaluate incomplete information and reach conclusions on that basis, but it’s awful governance to misrepresent the nature of our certainty and pretend we’re having a "national debate".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
You’re referring to broad statements. I’m referring to specific statements ...
Bullspit, Jon. You’re chiding Scooter Libby (and the Bush Administration) for something he allegedly told Judith Miller three months after the invasion. Something that was indeed covered by the "Key Judgments" portion of the 2002 NIE (as highlighted above).

And just to be absolutely clear on what was in the "Key Judgments" section of the 2002 NIE, let’s look at the horse’s mouth:
Key Judgments [from October 2002 NIE]

Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction

We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade. (See INR alternative view at the end of these Key Judgments.)

We judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq’s WMD efforts, owing to Baghdad’s vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf war starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information. We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq’s WMD programs.

Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its missile program, and invested more heavily in biological weapons; in the view of most agencies, Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

• Iraq’s growing ability to sell oil illicitly increases Baghdad’s capabilities to finance WMD programs; annual earnings in cash and goods have more than quadrupled, from $580 million in 1998 to about $3 billion this year.

• Iraq has largely rebuilt missile and biological weapons facilities damaged during Operation Desert Fox and has expanded its chemical and biological infrastructure under the cover of civilian production.

• Baghdad has exceeded UN range limits of 150 km with its ballistic missiles and is working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which allow for a more lethal means to deliver biological and, less likely, chemical warfare agents.

Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors departed—December 1998.

How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

• If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year. {p.2}

• Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.

–Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors—as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools—provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)

–Iraq’s efforts to re-establish and enhance its cadre of weapons personnel as well as activities at several suspect nuclear sites further indicate that reconstitution is underway.

–All agencies agree that about 25,000 centrifuges based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire would be capable of producing approximately two weapons’ worth of highly enriched uranium per year.

• In a much less lively scenario, Baghdad could make enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by 2005 to 2007 if it obtains suitable centrifuge tubes this year and has all the other materials and technological expertise necessary to build production-scale uranium enrichment facilities.
The "Confidence Levels" were supplied directly after the "Key Judgments" portion and the "Uranium Acquisition" section was provided in support of the "Key Judgments" section.

Leaving aside the questionable "reporting" being done in the Post article you cited (several assertions of which are outright falsehoods as shown by many people, including the writers for QandO), when did "vigorously seeking uranium" become part of the national debate? I’ll answer: AFTER the invasion, not before. There was, of course, the infamous "16 words", but that said nothing about "vigorous" nor about U.S. Intelligence, and has proven to be "well-founded" as opposed to a "selective release of information."

You say:
We were asked to make decisions based on information which was not only incomplete — it was intentionally and selectively filtered. It’s necessary in policy formulation to evaluate incomplete information and reach conclusions on that basis, but it’s awful governance to misrepresent the nature of our certainty and pretend we’re having a "national debate".
Where do you point to any evidence that policy was being set on anything less than the fullest picture available? And where do you point out misrepresentations and "selective filtering"? Again, I’ll answer: the SOU and the Libby disclosures. Only one of those statements was part of the "national debate" leading up to the war and I addressed it above. The other statements (if you can call it that) were made afterwards and had nothing to do with the national debate of whether to go to war.

In short, you’re trying to employ post hoc ergo propter hoc logic to the latest kerfuffle, and I’m calling you on it.


 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Jon’s bias in this regard is well known, so a calling-out is appropriate. I think that MichaelW has made a hell of a case. One, however, that I am certain that Jon can counter, having had the temerity to trot out the "Bush Lied" nag for one more struggle around the track. Like the Wright Brothers, he is sure that he can make that crate fly. Has he tweaked those cables just right this time? Or will it be another cartwheel and shredded linen?
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Bullspit, Jon. You’re chiding Scooter Libby (and the Bush Administration) for something he allegedly told Judith Miller three months after the invasion.
The administration repeated the uranium story before the invasion and after they had been informed that it was "baseless and should be laid to rest". In saying that, I’m not referring to Libby’s mid-year disclosure.
The "Confidence Levels" were supplied directly after the "Key Judgments" portion and the "Uranium Acquisition" section was provided in support of the "Key Judgments" section.
The items mentioned in the confidence levels are not, themselves, "key judgements". But you cite another interesting mislead...
Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors—as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools—provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort
That was the concensus in late 2002, and Bush was largely forgiven the "uranium from niger" statement because there wasn’t any evidence that he knew it to be inaccurate — or even likely to be inaccurate. But in 2003, "Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons."

The White House (Rice) response was that "if there were any doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president". They were, though. On numerous occassions.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon’s bias in this regard is well known, so a calling-out is appropriate.
I sincerely hope that I am not giving that impression; i.e. that I’m somehow uncloaking Jon’s "bias". I don’t think he has any more bias than I do. Sometimes, however, Jon tends to apply "balance" to an issue by giving credence (too much IMHO) to tropes and received wisdom that has little basis in fact.

I don’t think Jon is "biased" as much as he is uncritical sometimes when (again, IMHO) he should be.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
The administration repeated the uranium story before the invasion and after they had been informed that it was "baseless and should be laid to rest". In saying that, I’m not referring to Libby’s mid-year disclosure.
Then what are you referring to? I assumed you were referring to the SOU, which I concede may have been a mistake on my part. The whole uranium story didn’t really become news until after the war. IIRC, Powell didn’t say anything about to the UN, but instead concentrated on the BW and CW capabilities (although I think he did mention the aluminum tubes).
The items mentioned in the confidence levels are not, themselves, "key judgements".
In fact, they are. That’s why the heading says "Confidence Levels for Selected Key Judgments in This Estimate."
...Bush was largely forgiven the "uranium from niger" statement because there wasn’t any evidence that he knew it to be inaccurate — or even likely to be inaccurate.
I’m not sure how you conclude that the Administration was "largely forgiven". They still haven’t been forgiven.
But in 2003, "Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons."
I think this is a better point to hang your hat on, seeing as the DOE and the State INR assessments all but concluded that the tubes weren’t suitable for the stated nuclear purposes. But this is aside from the uraniam acquisition efforts.
The White House (Rice) response was that "if there were any doubts about the underlying intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the president". They were, though. On numerous occassions.
Again, I think we agree on this point. The doubts were communicated, and indeed were included in the 2002 NIE. The Administration certainly elided over some of those doubts. But there were differing levels of doubt. Reconstitution of weapons programs (including nuclear) was one "Key Judgment" that had high confidence and a high level of consensus. Again, the proposition concerning Iraq’s intent to acquire uranium from Africa has withstood scrutiny from at least two commissions (one of which was the Butler Report that I linked to previously).
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Interesting how the MSM can spin old news as new news, or is there something fundementally new in this???

It seems to me that some people wanted to give Iraq the benefit of the doubt on to many things.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/013716.php
Today’s New York Times page-one, joint-byline story by David Sanger and David Johnston is "Bush ordered declassification, official says." The story of course refers to the declassification and release of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimage consensus "key judgments" in July 2003.

Referring to the same document, on July 20, 2003, the AP headlined Tom Raum’s story: "Declassified CIA documents on Iraq show divided intelligence community." Here is Raum’s story in its entirety:

...

Also referring to the same document, Knight Ridder ran a shorter story on the same subject by Ron Hutcheson on July 19, 2003: "Bush releases excerpts of top-secret Iraq report." Here is the shorter Knight Ridder story in its entirety:

...

Note that these stories show what we all know: the release of the NIE report was part of an attempt to quell the political uproar that was starting to build over what Bush did and did not know before the war. The stories also show that the "leak," while criticized for being "selective," included the State Department minority opinion — material more than sufficient for most MSM stories written after the briefing to be negative!

The only new element of the story that was added last week via Patrick Fitzgerald’s brief is that President Bush, according to Cheney according to Libby, authorized the release of the NIE report ten days earlier than the July 18 briefing that was widely reported, and that they disclosed it to Judith Miller, who didn’t write about it. On the contrary, however, today’s New York Times story reports that Bush only authorized the declassification and release of the NIE report, not the manner of its disclosure specifically to Judith Miller on July 8. Nevertheless, Kenneth Bazinet’s representative New York Daily News story that I wrote about here on Saturday reports, for example, that Fitzgerald’s probe uncovered Bush’s role in the "leak" of the NIE. Yet it bears repeating that the Knight Ridder headline on July 19, 2003 was: "Bush Releases Excerpts of Top-Secret Iraq Report."
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
I can’t say I remember "vigorously seeking" used to describe Iraq’s activity with either Africa in general or Niger specifically.
I also can’t see how if that were the case that it wouldn’t be the prevailing argument against their description of the event. Instead we got essentially: Joe Wilson goes to see if transfer happened, does not find proof and comes back to say that they didn’t seek uranium (i.e. facts not matching claims).
If the claim was that it was "vigorous", then I would say that Wilson’s finding of "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" actually proved something; a rather surprising result.
 
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
I raised my red flag when I noticed that Jon was sourcing the NYT. Jon may or may not be biased on this issue, but we know The Times is biased.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
Jon - are you able to refute the comments made here?
 
Written By: Monica
URL: http://
I think not fake, but accurate is more like it.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
I raised my red flag when I noticed that Jon was sourcing the NYT. Jon may or may not be biased on this issue, but we know The Times is biased
A minor point.

The NYT was the medium the administration used to engage in "selective declassification."

To say the NYT is biased against Bush is akin to saying the bank robber’s gun was biased against him. After all, the only person who has gone to jail in this case was at the time on the NYT’s payroll. She was represented by high powered legal counsel who were paid by the NYT.

NYT is biased against Bush? Our LIC? Do you have the flu?


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Jon - are you able to refute the comments made here?
Even assuming there is a debate, isn’t the debate resolved when one considers the manner in which the information was leaked in this case? If there was no effort to mislead as - Michael seemingly contends, why not just stand up at a press conference and tell the American people what you knew - all of what you knew. All at once. Without equivication. Here it all is.

The reason people selectively disclose or leak, or whatever, is to mislead. What other possible reason could there be?




 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
But in 2003, "Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons."
Jon, you cite the passage above as if it is a definitive factual finding. It isn’t. It’s Murray Waas’s characterization of what happened. "Directly and repeatedly?" By whom and how many times? Notice that those are Waas’s words not Hadley’s. Waas says that Bush had been informed that his claims about the aluminum tubes "might not be true." However, Waas admits that the summary shown to Bush said
"most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort..."
The 2002 NIE Key findings say:
Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotor - as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools - provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.
Larry Wilkerson also claimed that when he was preparing Colin Powell’s February 2003, UN presentation
The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by god, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges
Waas calls it a "deep rift" which sounds really bad and obviously there was a deep rift between the State Dept. and the Administration regarding the ultimate decision to go to war. However, look at what the INR Alternative View actually said, it doesn’t even disagree with Bush’s main point regarding Saddam’s pursuit of nuclear weapons:
The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapon-related capabilities. The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment.
They concurred that Saddam was "pursuing" nuclear weapons, they merely argued that there wasn’t a "compelling case" that his efforts were "integrated and comprehensive." Are you really telling us that you believe this tepid dissent is a smoking gun for the "Bush knowingly lied about the aluminum tubes" meme? Come on. Bush was apparently apprised of the minority opinion on the aluminum tubes. Big deal. You are judging his statements in 2003 from the perspective of 2006. Charles Duelfer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that while sanctions had harmed his nuclear program, "Saddam did not abandon his nuclear ambitions." In addition, the Iraq Survey Group Report made a Key Finding that Saddam had created
a network of Iraqi front companies, some with close relationships to high-ranking foreign-government officials ...[who]..worked through their respective ministries, state-run companies and ministry-sponsored front companies to procure illicit goods, services and technologies for Iraq’s WMD-related, conventional arms, and/or dual-use goods programs.
Jon when you say
You can argue all day that some data suggested it might be true, but that’s exactly the problem.
It is more accurate to say that some of the data suggested that it "may not be true."

So let me get this argument straight. Bush is a _________________ because he cited the majority view on the aluminum tubes (with French concurrence) which was offered in support of the larger point that Saddam sought nuclear weapons (on which there was apparent unanimity amongst American intel. agencies) which was later confirmed in the ISG Report (i.e. Saddam was actively procuring material for his "dual use" and WMD programs). He argued that we should depose Saddam because, amongst numerous other reasons, he wanted to develop nuclear weapons. Guess what, that was and is accurate. This doesn’t prove that Bush lied. Reasonable people can disagree whether or not the threat posed by Saddam warranted military action. However, in typical leftist style, they can’t argue on the merits. They have to vilify their opponents and falsely accuse them of mendacity and wrongdoing. Sorry Jon, but Bush’s awareness of the minority position regarding the suitability of the aluminum tubes for nuclear fuel development doesn’t rise to the level of malfeasance that you seem to want it to.

As a point of comparison, did Russ Feingold discuss the downside of campaign finance reform when he was advocating its passage? Did he tell anyone that it was a manufactured issue? Did Hillary Clinton disclose the multitude of problems with single payer health care when she was running her task force? Of course not. I can’t believe that this nonsense is still being taken seriously.
 
Written By: Jt007
URL: http://
Also, Bush wasn’t the only Administration official making the case for war. Colin Powell referenced the aluminum tubes in his February 2003, UN presentation and acknowledged the disagreement even though the French had apparently just told his chief of staff that they were positive the tubes were for centrifuges.
[Saddam] has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed. These tubes are controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group precisely because they can be used as centrifuges for enriching uranium. By now, just about everyone has heard of these tubes, and we all know that there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts, and the Iraqis themselves, argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher.
This was part of the Administration’s case and the debate was disclosed. Who’s "cherry picking" now?
 
Written By: Jt007
URL: http://
Sorry, I’ve been away from the blog and I’m fairly far behind here, so let me respond to the high points:
In fact, they are. That’s why the heading says "Confidence Levels for Selected Key Judgments in This Estimate."
We’ll have to agree to disagree. The key judgements were the highlighted points. The items mentioned in "confidence levels" are the things that support or do not support the key judgements.
Reconstitution of weapons programs (including nuclear) was one "Key Judgment" that had high confidence and a high level of consensus.
Indeed it did. In 2002. By early 2003, that judgement had changed. As Powell indicated "intelligence agencies had essentially rejected that contention [that Baghdad had been vigorously seeking to acquire uranium from Africa], and were "no longer carrying it as a credible item" by early 2003".

The administration did not simply make blatantly false statements — instead, they elided contradictory data and publicly asserted confidence where none obtained. They were dishonest with themselves, I believe, in that they disregarded contrary inputs. The Mohammed Atta in Prague thing was similar. Even after it was clear that the story was exceedingly unlikely, Cheney kept repeating it as if it were probably true.
I think not fake, but accurate is more like it.
The 1999 visit is interesting. Perhaps it’s accurate to call it "sought uranium" and perhaps it’s not. It’s certainly difficult to see how a 4-year old diplomatic contact could be construed as happening "recently". Call that another big stretch by the administration.

Still, the state of our intelligence analysis in early 2003 was that Iraqi uranium acquisition from Niger was no longer "a credible item", and that we simply didn’t have much information in general on Iraqi uranium procurement.
Jon, you cite the passage above as if it is a definitive factual finding. It isn’t. It’s Murray Waas’s characterization of what happened. "Directly and repeatedly?" By whom and how many times?
He cites examples in his story.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The President’s Summary was only one of several high-level warnings given to Bush and other senior administration officials that serious doubts existed about the intended use of the tubes...

classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002....

The President’s Summary was only one of several high-level warnings given to Bush and other senior administration officials that serious doubts existed about the intended use of the tubes, according to government records and interviews with former and current officials....

In mid-September 2002, two weeks before Bush received the October 2002 President’s Summary, Tenet informed him that both State and Energy had doubts about the aluminum tubes and that even some within the CIA weren’t certain...

Official records and interviews with current and former officials also reveal that the president was told that even then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had doubts...
Those are the only "examples" Waas provides. Again, he makes it sound incriminating, and if that is what you want to believe you can, but he doesn’t even remotely support his hyperbole with facts.

We already knew that Bush had seen the NIE which included the INR Alternative View and the one page summary was just that, a summary of the NIE. Tenet informed Bush about the INR and DOE dissent. Right. The NIE and the summary state that fact and we know Bush had seen it. Colin Powell had his doubts. Right. He disclosed the dispute in his February 2003, UN speech. Waas says "deep rift" and repeats the phrase "several high-level warnings given to Bush and other senior administration officials" but the only facts are what we already knew. According to Waas the NIE was a compilation of input from 6 intelligence agencies of which, two dissented on the aluminum tubes. Waas just re-reports what we already knew and adds some incriminating language without any new details and that becomes news. This is becoming a joke.

By the way, given that Waas mentions Tenet’s warning to Bush as part of his pathetic case that "Bush knew", take a look at what Larry Wilkerson said about Tenet in early 2003
The consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming. I can still hear George Tenet telling me, and telling my boss in the bowels of the CIA, that the information we were delivering – which we had called considerably – we had called it very much – we had thrown whole reams of paper out that the White House had created. But George was convinced, John McLaughlin was convinced that what we were presented was accurate.
Tenet may have told Bush about the dispute but, in early 2003, he obviously thought the majority view was correct. We are at the point where Bush critics point to new statements about the same facts we have known for years and, just because the journalist phrases it in a new and more incriminating way, it somehow has new meaning. It doesn’t.

Waas also says that
the president and others in the administration had cited the aluminum tubes as the most compelling evidence that Saddam was determined to build a nuclear weapon — even more than the allegations that he was attempting to purchase uranium.
Really? I’d like him to go back to the summer of 2003, and show us where anyone said the aluminum tubes were the "most compelling evidence" provided by the administration? Before Joe Wilson imploded, the media told us that it was the 16 words. Better yet, I’d like him to go back show us where anyone said that prior to the war? The "Bush lied" crowd keep shifting their focus to the latest rehashed story of the month, but the facts haven’t changed.
 
Written By: Jt007
URL: http://
This entire argument boils down to credibility and trust in the judgement of a President and the intelligence apparatus.

Everyone arguing here is assuming a level of intelligence and ability that we have the right to expect and demand of our leaders. We assumed that in 2000 - but this is 2006 and we have data on the table.

So; here’s the essence as I see it?

1. To what extent can we believe the President and his staff when they open their yaps, based on things that are not fuzzy and not open to question?

2. To what extent can we rely on the judgement of the administration to evaluate inarguable facts in the public domain to formulate intelligent policy?

Integrating points one and two allows us to make pretty shrewd guesses about how well they deal with conjecture, guesses and hints in contexts where secrecy is vital.

We have a president who could not figure out that responding to Katrina had anything to do with National Security. But being clearly unable to respond to a hurricane (before AND after) gives a really good measure of how successful a terrorist act could be, and how well-prepared the government is LIKELY to be under the cloak of secrecy.

I really think this has little to do with Politics or philosophy. I think it has a lot to do with a stupid man unwilling to put up with people who make him feel stupid. That would mean that the only smart people who survive are those willing to use their intelligence to manipulate his willful stupidity.

I’m unwilling to entertain excuses for poor performance and laugh at those who wish to "demand accountability" of everyone BUT themselves. I abhor hypocrisy and pandering to superstition. I am beside myself at the willful abuse of power by the President in regards to wiretapping, when it’s obviously intended to permit him to spy on people he regards as HIS enemies, rather than OUR enemies.

Giving this man the benefit of the doubt - and indeed, any of the RINOS and lickspittles that serve his whims - is idiocy.

This is a man who’s idea of confronting the threat of a hornet’s nest is to hit it with a baseball bat. Some would call this "courage to confront difficult issues." I would call it "failure to comprehend cause and effect."

 
Written By: Bob King
URL: http://www.graphictruth.com
I abhor hypocrisy and pandering to superstition. I am beside myself at the willful abuse of power by the President in regards to wiretapping, when it’s obviously intended to permit him to spy on people he regards as HIS enemies, rather than OUR enemies.
replete with irony...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://

 
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