Bush, Tenet and 16 Words

Discussion in 'Politics' started by aphexcoil, Jul 12, 2003.

  1. That is the infamous line that was spoken by George Bush during the State of the Union address. Apparently, these 16 words should never have been placed in his speech according to George Tenet (CIA Director).

    Now, let's look at this from the political game side.

    Obviously there has been a lot of heat generated and directed towards the administration about this. Although this alone was not the sole reason we went to war, a lot of democrats (along with a lot of the media) seem to think that this is a severe enough situation to warrant a lot of attention.

    Now here comes Howard Dean, a democratic nominee for the next presidential election. He calls Bush's "intelligence-handling a disaster."

    At first, I was unsure who would take the blame for this. Tenet admirally came out and took full responsibility for the mistake. That was great -- but obviously this matter is not going to be resolved with just his statement.

    So, what will transpire now? Do you think the media will continue to probe the administration? Will the democrats demand a full inquiry?
  2. A bi-partisan senate or house committee (8 demos and 8 repubs) are already calling for an inquiry.

    The smart moderate Republicans, like Hagel from Nebraska know that it is important for this to be handled as if there is nothing to hide, and a search for the truth is in the best interest of all concerned. The truth of Bush's innocence can only strengthen our society, and finding corruption can only make us stronger if that were the finding.

    Those who are in opposition to an investigation demonstrate their fear of what might come from one.

    I have argued before that given the scandals of the presidency the past 50 years, and the nature of such a divided electorate (see 2000 election) that it was imperative for the current adminstration to everything by the book, to not even give the impression of impropriety.

    The trust in the presidency has been severely crippled by the actions of Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and if Bush wants to restore honor and dignity to that office, he needs to be squeaky clean in his affairs.

  3. "The British Government...
    It was the Brits that first made the allegation? And Tony Blair let Bush make that statement? Wow, Tony's not the liberal he claims to be. And that's why liberals are squirming like worms, no spine or core conviction whatsoever.
  4. Does anyone seriously doubt that Saddam was trying to get his hands on nuclear material? They were thought to be close to having nuclear bombs at the time of the first Gulf war, 12 years ago.
  5. msfe


    The Niger connection

    How did a poor African nation become crucial to justifying war in Iraq? Now doubts over intelligence claims that Saddam sought uranium from Niger threaten a damaging split between the US and Britain write Peter Beaumont and Edward Helmore in New York

    Sunday July 13, 2003

    In the tunnels of Akouta in Niger, the miners dig for a dark and heavy ore, tar-like in lustre. In economic terms it is as precious as gold. But for some its worth far outweighs its financial value. For carried in these ores is uranium, the ninety-second element on the periodic table, and the fuel for an atomic bomb.

    For three decades the miners of Niger have carried on their business, largely unnoticed by all except those who follow the heavy metal markets.

    Now suddenly the uranium mines of Niger - and those seeking to do business with them for their uranium ores - have been thrown into the sharpest relief by a question that may have crucially influenced the decision of the US and Britain to go to war against Saddam Hussein.

    Did Iraq seek uranium from Niger to fuel its nuclear weapons programme? Or was the claim, repeated by both President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, based on a crude forgery, discredited both by the CIA and a senior US diplomat sent to investigate the claim?

    The story of the 'Niger connection' is one that has embroiled the US and British governments in a new round of charges that President Bush and Tony Blair led their countries to war on a false premise - that Iraq was actively seeking uranium for its nuclear weapons programme, a charge made in both the British Government's dossier on Iraqi WMD last September and in Bush's State of the Union address this January.

    It is an affair that is now threatening to claim the first major scalp in the row over whether governments on both sides of the Atlantic hyped up the evidence against Iraq to justify a war - that of the CIA's director George Tenet, who yesterday was forced to take the blame for his agency's failure properly to warn the White House that the claims about Niger were 'highly dubious'.

    In a remarkable admission Tenet has publicly conceded that the CIA wrongly allowed Bush to tell the American people that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa, despite analysts' doubts about the information.

    'These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President,' Tenet said, referring to a section of January's State of the Union address in which Bush said: 'The British Government has learnt that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'

    Tenet's admission follows an unprecedented round of finger- pointing by both Bush and his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, at the CIA - effectively accusing it of clearing what it knew to be defective intelligence for a major presidential speech.

    Boiled down to their bare bones, the allegations go like this: with deep suspicion at the Langley, Virginia, headquarters of the CIA over allegations of Iraqi attempts to procure uranium ore from Niger, the CIA was getting cold feet. What evidence they did have, as Tenet admitted on Friday, was fragmentary.

    So, in early 2000, the CIA dispatched a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to investigate the claims. He rapidly concluded that the alleged Iraqi procurement programme did not exist, and at most Baghdad had merely attempted to discuss improved trade relations with Niger in the late 1990s.

    Wilson and the CIA became convinced that some evidence of the Niger connection was based on crudely forged documents that agency sources suggested had been obtained by Italian authorities and passed on to Britain which - the same sources told the US media - passed the forgeries on to the CIA. When those documents emerged after Bush's State of the Union address, they would be quickly exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna as the confections that they were.

    Crucially, despite knowing of the dubious nature of the Niger connection, the CIA did not impress upon the White House its serious doubts. Instead, it allowed the President, citing 'British intelligence' as proof, to claim the Niger connection as hard evidence of Saddam's efforts to rebuild a nuclear arsenal.

    If Tenet's account is true, it is doubly embarrassing, for the CIA had made its reservations clear elsewhere, if not to Bush.

    The previous year, ahead of Blair's September 2002 dossier setting out the British case against Saddam, the CIA told London that the Niger claim was deeply questionable. And it also warned US Secretary of State Colin Powell against using the Niger evidence before he made his powerful presentation about the Iraqi threat to the UN in February, just weeks after Bush's State of the Union address.

    In other words, the CIA told everyone about its doubts except the White House.

    What is most revealing is Tenet's admission that the central claim was left in Bush's speech because it had been attributed to British intelligence. Agency officials 'in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct, i.e. that the British Government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa,' Tenet said.

    'This should not have been the test for clearing a presidential address. This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed.'

    But there is a big question hanging over Tenet's account. For Britain vehemently rejects American claims that the Niger link was based solely on the forged documents or that it supplied any intelligence on the Niger connection to the CIA.

    'The information in the British Government's September dossier regarding Niger categorically did not come from the forged Italian documents; it came from our own source. That information was not passed on to the US,' said an intelligence source last week. 'It was an entirely separate and credible source.'

    On one crucial issue Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in his letter released yesterday, does agree with the US version of events. He admits that the CIA did warn Britain against including claims on the Niger connection in the Government's September dossier on WMD.

    'The media have reported that the CIA expressed reservations to us about the [Niger] element of the September dossier,' he said. 'This is correct. However, the US comment was unsupported and UK officials were confident that the dossier's statement was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US.'

    The consequence of the gulf between these two positions is a new crisis over the intelligence on Iraq that is no longer limited to either just Britain or the US. For the first time Washington and London now point their fingers at each other.

    The controversy is beginning to affect public support for the President. A Washington Post poll has found that 50 per cent of the US public now believe the administration exaggerated WMD claims in order to justify war with Iraq.

    Here it was the turn yesterday of Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram to throw his weight behind fresh demands for a full and independent inquiry, saying Straw's letter did little to clarify the situation.

    Ancram said: "An independent judicial inquiry is the most sensible way of establishing the facts.'

    Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock who sits on the foreign affairs committee, said, if there was no political interference with the September dossier, then 'at the very least it raises questions about the competence of the security and intelligence services'.