Skip to comments.Let Them Eat Yellowcake - Reflections On A Failed Political Smear
Posted on 07/15/2003 10:58:45 AM PDT by johnqueuepublic
Let Them Eat Yellowcake - Reflections On A Failed Political Smear
By William A. Mayer
A consequence of the rush to judgment by much of the media over the now controversial juxtaposing of the trip-wire terms "Iraq", "yellowcake" and "Niger" in the Bush administration's 2003 State of the Union address, is the fact that in their haste to crucify George W. Bush on a cross of uranium, they may well have made both a major tactical as well as a factual blunder.
That blunder is two-fold.
1. They have either misread or more likely intentionally misinterpreted CIA Director Tenets July 11, 2003 statement as having made the conclusion that the Niger Iraq fissile material transfer did not take place.
2. They have ignored the very clear facts surrounding the case, facts which far from supporting any assertion that it was the intention of the Bush administration to stampede a nation into war reveal a very long, and independently verifiable, Iraqi pattern of seeking out and obtaining the most critical nuclear bomb making component uranium - either on the open market or clandestinely from underground sources for nearly a quarter-of-a-century.
Confidential sources close to the intelligence community have confirmed to us that the Tenet clarification in no way rules out the possibility that the Iraqi-Niger transaction took place. All that it states is that the high standards upon which such a determination should have been made were not sufficient for it to have been included in a speech as important as the State of the Union address.
In short the supposition cannot currently be verified.
Tenets main point is unambiguously clear; it was the sense of the Intelligence Community [IC] as set out in a 90-page National Intelligence Estimate report - that Iraq was indeed quickly jump-starting its nuclear weapons program:
most agencies of the Intelligence Community judged that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program
It is this very reconstitution process which was so troubling to the Bush administration and appears to have been one of the primary motive forces behind the Iraq liberation operation. Noteworthy also is the clear impression that this sense of the IC rested not at all on an alleged uranium deal between Saddam and an impoverished African nation.
The decision to go to war would have been the same irrespective of this little bit of unsubstantiated intelligence.
It was not necessary for the administration to quote from allegedly forged British documents or in any way assemble a case built on deception to prove Iraqs long history of seeking uranium wherever it was available.
As is the case in many of these controversies the public record is already replete with information that can be quite compelling. In the present case the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] catalogued at least 8 instances wherein fissile material was imported into Iraq.
The following from: Fact Sheet: Iraqs Nuclear Weapon Programme International Atomic Energy Agency, 25 April 2002
1. Imported 4,006 kg of natural uranium and 6,005 kg of depleted uranium (DU) from Italy in 1979
2. Imported 1,767 kg low enriched uranium (LEU) from Italy in 1982
3. Imported almost 50 kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russia and France
4. Procured 429 drums containing 138,098 kg yellowcake from Portugal in 1980
5. Procured 487 drums containing 148,348 kg yellowcake from Portugal in 1982
6. Procured 432 drums containing 137,435 kg of yellowcake from Niger in 1981
7. Procured 426 drums containing 139,409 kg of yellowcake from Niger in 1982
8. Imported 24,260 kg of uranium dioxide from Brazil between 1981-82
What was Saddam doing with 550 tons of bomb making material, approximately 250 tons of which had been obtained from the very country mentioned in the President's State of the Union Address?
The answer lies within the same report; which details Saddam's successful efforts in enriching this treasure trove of contraband, with the obvious intent of producing a working nuclear device, the ultimate WMD.
Produced 109 tonnes of uranium in 168 tonnes of yellowcake at Al Qaim uranium recovery plant, which was constructed between 1982-84
Produced 420 drums containing 99,457 kg uranium dioxide at Al Jesira uranium conversion facility
Produced UF6 at Rashdiya Engineering and Design Centre
Processed uranium dioxide to produce UF4, uranium metal and UF6 at Tuwaitha Chemical Laboratories
Processed UO2 and yellowcake to produce UO2, U3O8, UO3, UO4, UF4, and uranium metal at Tuwaitha Experimental Research Laboratory for Fuel Fabrication
Processed UO2 to produce UCl4 at Tuwaitha Chemical Engineering Research laboratories
To any but the most dull - or more likely, ideologically blinded, partisan - the fact that Niger and Saddam had an ongoing nuclear arrangement spanning over 20 years should have been a red flag, cautioning restraint in any criticism of what Mr. Bush said in his national address.
That such criticism would come from Joseph C. Wilson, an individual [former acting ambassador to Iraq and the man who put together Clintons hysteric, $42+ million 1998 Great White Father tour of Africa] with an apparent ideological axe to grind [what diplomat tries to embarrass his president by crafting Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times?] is in no way surprising.
On March 3, 2003 this career diplomat wrote the following in an article for The Nation magazine, a lefty wet-dream periodical:
Then what's the point of this new American imperialism? The neoconservatives with a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party, a party that traditionally eschewed foreign military adventures, want to go beyond expanding US global influence to force revolutionary change on the region. American preeminence in the Gulf is necessary but not sufficient for the hawks. Nothing short of conquest, occupation and imposition of handpicked leaders on a vanquished population will suffice. Iraq is the linchpin for this broader assault on the region. The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our worldview are implanted throughout the region, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme.
Intemperate language and barely suppressed hostility from an obviously left-biased political operative.
Mr. Wilson is now affiliated with a pro-Palestinian, DC based think tank - again hardly the profile one would expect of one who has dedicated his life to the deft art of international political negotiation.
The audacity of the press to once again engage in a seemingly vain attempt to create a smoking gun to grant the mantle of legitimacy to the cacophonous whining of the "stolen" election crowd is somewhat surprising.
Having failed in the, half-dozen or so, of their most recent efforts has neither decreased their lusty embrace of anything even remotely anti-Bush, nor has it in any way damaged the credibility and historically high approval ratings of the man who sends them into paroxysms of uncontrollable hate.
It smacks of a terrible desperation on their part and is a wondrous and beautiful thing to behold!
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I agree that this is a good article, but at least one careless mistake: Bush said "Africa" not "Niger" in SOTU.
The only thing he left out is Great Britain still stands by the veracity of it's intelligence, the intelligence GW Bush refers to in his speech. The single instance of misinformation (probably purposeful) on the Niger yellowcake is outweighed by genuine British and American intelligence as yet unrevealed in public.
The President's statement would undoubtedly stand solidly as truth in a Court of Law.
And the crowd goes wild......:-)
It's kind of sad to think that by today's standards, you're right. In reality, this is the barely more than the minimum amount of research a reporter should be putting into this type of story -- the fact that only a few do is a damning indictment on the "profession".