Friday, June 13, 2003

Is that flop sweat I smell?

White House Says Bush Had More Evidence Iraq Sought Uranium in Africa (courtesy Lambert) The White House on Friday stood by President Bush's assertion that Iraq has sought uranium in Africa in recent years, saying that his allegation in January was supported by more evidence than a series of letters now known to have been forged. Additional intelligence pointed to Iraq also seeking uranium in Somalia and possibly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said a senior Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The uranium reportedly sought was in a raw form that would have to undergo a complicated enrichment process before it could be used in a nuclear weapon. Officials did not specify the sources of any such additional intelligence. Intelligence officials have previously described other evidence of recent Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium in Africa as fragmentary. After Bush repeated the British claim in his State of the Union address in January, the United Nations sought U.S. documentation. The purported Iraq-Niger letters were turned over to the United Nations, which found them to be forged. In retrospect, officials said, it would have been better to have left the uranium claim out of the president's speech, even though the speech was fact-checked by the CIA and other agencies. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the report was not central to the president's case that Iraq had prohibited weapons and programs.
In retrospect this shows all the signs of being a hail-mary pass. Are we to believe that after fending off questions about the forged Nigerian documents for several months that only now would the administration come out and say that they had other evidence to back up Bush's SOTU comment? If they had that evidence why do they wait until now to reveal its existence? Could it be because the press isn't buying the spin they have been pushing on the Nigerian story (that the information that it was a forgery never reached the White House?) It will be interesting to see if the media becomes its compliant self once again in response to this new story. Update: Lambert also points us to this TNR comment on this story:
Are we expected to believe that the administration has been sitting on a mountain of evidence suggesting Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from multiple African countries, but that the only piece of evidence it actually ended up citing in public was the one that happened to be bogus? Are we expected to believe that, once Niger story was publicly revealed to be bogus, the administration decided it'd be better to keep sitting on the legitimate evidence that Saddam had been trying to purchase uranium from Africa and, instead, to just let the bogus evidence speak for itself? Well, Dick, I guess we could share this incredibly incriminating, incredibly damning pile of evidence with the rest of the world. But then that would probably prove the merits of the war beyond a reasonable doubt, and getting help from all those second-rate European armies would be much more trouble than it's worth. Good point, Don. Why don't we just keep that stuff quiet and rest our case with the forged Niger documents... Are you kidding us? THERE ARE NO OTHER SOURCES. It's about time the administration owned up to it.
Of course they won't own up to it. Don't you people get it? In the world of George W. Bush there is one cardinal rule: George W. Bush is NEVER wrong. He NEVER makes a mistake. He is ALWAYS in the right and if there is a mistake it is ALWAYS someone elses fault.

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