By Murray Waas, National JournalLet me repeat and reemphasize - the President was personally advised that claims might not be true!
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.
Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."In and of itself, that fact that the INR doubted the veracity of the aluminum tube claim is not surprising. The various issues of doubt expressed in the NIE have been the source of much discussion, as has the fact that these doubts were excised from the Unclassified Version of the NIE that most members of Congress saw in October 2002 before voting on the Iraq Force Resolution. The one new fact in this report is that the White House, and specifically the President KNEW that there were doubts about this information - and they used it anyway.
Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
Now Wilson had already travelled to Africa and provided the CIA with a verbal report that indicated the Niger claim was bogus, and as it turned out based on forged documents. The forgery possibility was also brought up by the INR, independant of Wilson, and included in the very same NIE which originally requested by members of Congress.
Waas's article goes on to describe the long sordid history of the attacks on Wilson and Plame which followed and increased over the next few months as Wilson become more and more vocal about the Niger issue, leading ultimately to Robert Novak's article revealing that Plame was a CIA Operative, and that her company Brewter-Jennings was a CIA front.
We now know that Plame was a NOC, an undercover operative and that Brewster-Jennings was working on limiting the spread of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation. How badly their efforts were damaged by the outing of one of their agents remains unrevealed to the public, but may come to light as the result of the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame investigation.
This story clearly shows how the problem here wasn't with the intelligence - there were many varying doubts expressed by the CIA, DIA and other analyst concerning not only Saddam's Nuclear program, but also his willingness to use any WMD's he might have still have (although as it turned out he had none). Most stated that he was unlikely to turn WMD weapons and materials over to terrorists or to use them himself - unless provoked.
So what did we do? We provoked the Shit out of him. Bush went out of his way to provoke him with bombings and even contemplated sending in a disguised U2 for him to shoot at.
At this point, there is no more room to hide under the bushel that "The President just didn't know" that we was dead wrong about Iraq. There is no more room to argue that "the intelligence information was bad". No, it wasn't. The Bush Administration - time and time again- insisted on using the worst of the information they had, and ignored the good information.
"Curveball" says that Iraq still has WMD's - so they believe him, even though the DIA says he can't be trusted. So when Saddam has he doesn't have them - they don't listen. al-Liby in Gitmo says that Saddam has ties to al Qaeda, again the DIA says "this guy is probably a fabricator".
Guess who the President believed?
If you said he believed the wrong guy - you'd be right.