By this point in time the 16-words had already been uttered at the 2003 SOTU, despite George Tenet's repeated attempts to have them removed, the War had been in full swing for two months, and the final report from the Dulfer Report would not be completed for over another full year - the key factor here then is that faced with indications that imminent "Mushroom Clouds", one of the primary justificaions for starting the war without waiting for the inspectors to complete their job, the Bush administration decided to attack the messenger rather than accept the truth.
Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials. The new CIA assessment came just as Libby and other senior administration officials were embarking on an effort to discredit an administration critic who had also been saying that the allegations were untrue.The campaign against Joseph Wilson continued even after the CIA concluded that Iraq had not tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger.
CIA analysts wrote then-CIA Director George Tenet in a highly classified memo on June 17, 2003, "We no longer believe there is sufficient" credible information to "conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." The memo was titled: "In Response to Your Questions for Our Current Assessment and Additional Details on Iraq's Alleged Pursuits of Uranium From Abroad."
Despite the CIA's findings, Libby attempted to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been sent on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger the previous year to investigate the claims, which he concluded were baseless.
The campaign against Wilson led to the outing of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA officer -- less than a month after the CIA assessment was completed.
The new disclosures raise questions as to why Libby and other Bush administration officials continued their efforts to discredit Wilson -- even as they were told that claims about Iraq's having procured uranium from Niger were most likely a hoax.Why indeed.
Basically these guys thought the CIA was lying to them (when it turns out they were actually right on target) - and in retaliation they outed a CIA operative, who just happened to work at WINPAC? Is this the "Exact Same Intelligence" that everyone else received?The answer may lie in part with the already well-known misgivings about the CIA by Cheney, Libby, and other senior Bush administration officials. At one point during that period -- the summer of 2003 -- Libby confronted a senior intelligence analyst briefing him and the vice president and accused the CIA of willfully misleading him and the administration on Niger. Libby was said to be upset that the CIA, in his view, had routinely minimized the extent to which Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction and was now prematurely attempting to distance itself from the Niger allegations.
Libby had also complained about the CIA's Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control. WINPAC, as the center is known, scrutinizes unconventional-weapons threats to the United States, including the pursuit by both foreign nations and terrorist groups of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons.
Libby, according to people with knowledge of the events, said that he and Cheney had come to believe that WINPAC was presenting Saddam Hussein's pursuit of such weapons in a far more benign light than Iraq's intents and capabilities reflected. Libby cited CIA bureaucratic inertia and caution and his view that many of WINPAC's analysts were aligned with foreign-policy elites who did not support the war with Iraq.
I think we can now see why the Phase II Investigation of Adminstration manipulation of Intelligence has been postponed for two years, and why White House Emails seem to be disappearing.