Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Bush's 16 words
National Post ^ | July 22 2003

Posted on 07/22/2003 12:24:48 PM PDT by knighthawk

The United States destroyed Saddam Hussein's dictatorship months ago. But the battle over the decision to go to war rages on. According to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential hopeful, George W. Bush "misled every one of us." The Democratic National Committee put an anti-Bush ad on its Web site alleging "President Bush Deceives the American People." And according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who helped jump-start the current furor back in the spring, "the public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history -- worse than Watergate."

Knocked backwards, conservatives have offered a legalistic defence in recent weeks. The 16-word claim from Mr. Bush's Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address that is attracting all the attention -- "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" -- is (or at least could be) technically true, they say: While a document purporting to detail Iraq's efforts to buy uranium from Niger has been discredited as a clumsy forgery, the British insist they have other evidence supporting the link.

We have little sympathy for the partisan campaign against Mr. Bush. But this argument still seems strained to us: When Tony Blair's government cited Saddam's efforts to acquire uranium from Niger in its September, 2002, dossier on Iraq, the CIA had doubts, and said so at the time. In October, moreover, several months before Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech, the CIA specifically instructed White House officials to remove a reference to Saddam's uranium-buying efforts from a speech delivered in Cincinnati.

The odd twist is that the Niger-Iraq connection was cited in the CIA's 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, released a week before Mr. Bush's Cincinnati speech. According to the pro-Bush camp, the blame -- to the extent any is warranted -- lies with the CIA, which helped fact-check the State of the Union speech. CIA director George Tenet, the consummate team player, has taken responsibility for the mistake -- even though he did not personally scrutinize the President's Jan. 28 script.

As things stand, the pro- and anti-Bush camps sit at a sort of stalemate, both sides waiting for the leak that will definitively vindicate their version of events. But it is more likely the brouhaha will end with an inconclusive anticlimax, one whose ultimate effect is to vindicate the President. Far from being a scandal "worse than Watergate," or an effort to deliberately "mislead" the public, the State of the Union glitch seems to have resulted in large part from the interplay between an overzealous, but well-intentioned, White House staffer and an insufficiently assertive, but equally well-intentioned, CIA analyst.

The best information we have so far comes from leaks made by senior U.S. intelligence officials following closed-door Washington hearings last week. According to sources cited by The New York Times, a CIA weapons analyst, Alan Foley, said he was asked by a fellow weapons expert at the National Security Council, Bob Joseph, whether it would be acceptable to include in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address a reference to Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium from Niger. Mr. Foley reported -- again, according to sources -- that he told Mr. Joseph the CIA was unsure about the Niger connection, and recommended it be removed the speech.

If this is an accurate picture of what happened, it suggests the entire controversy over Mr. Bush's 16 words might have been avoided if Mr. Joseph had simply passed Mr. Foley's advice up the White House chain. But instead, Mr. Joseph reportedly responded by asking Mr. Foley if it would be acceptable to retain the uranium reference so long as it was ascribed to British sources. Mr. Foley reportedly warned Mr. Joseph that the CIA had expressed doubts to the British about the African story. But the CIA analyst also apparently stopped short of saying no. As The New York Times reported last week: "According to Mr. Foley's account -- which the White House has said it could not confirm -- when Mr. Joseph ultimately asked him whether it would be accurate to state that the British had reported that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa, Mr. Foley agreed. However, Mr. Foley did not tell the Senate committee that he felt pressured by Mr. Joseph, officials familiar with his testimony said."

White House officials dispute Mr. Foley's chronology. And Mr. Joseph says all he discussed with Mr. Foley was whether the relevant reference in Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech should be based on the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate or the British dossier. But is anyone really interested in the relative share of blame properly assigned to Messrs. Joseph and Foley? Reasonable officials can bicker about whether the former was too eager to ensure the inclusion of a juicy snippet in Mr. Bush's speech -- or whether the latter was too lax in restraining his colleague. But either way, it seems Mr. Bush and his senior aides had every reason to think his speech was accurate. So where is the scandal in any of this?

As we noted in this space yesterday, the suicide of British weapons expert David Kelly has given fresh legs to the furor surrounding Tony Blair's "dodgy dossier" on Iraq last September. But absent similar drama in the United States, there is every reason to expect the false scandal surrounding Mr. Bush's January speech will subside. Enemies of the President may find an issue to bring him down in the 2004 election. But it won't be this one.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bush; iraq; nationalpost; uranium
President Bush Deceives the American People

President Bush said he would free the Iraqi people from the worst oppression and an evil dictator, and he did. That's good enough for me.

1 posted on 07/22/2003 12:24:51 PM PDT by knighthawk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: MizSterious; rebdov; Nix 2; green lantern; BeOSUser; Brad's Gramma; dreadme; Turk2; Squantos; ...
Ping
2 posted on 07/22/2003 12:25:23 PM PDT by knighthawk (We all want to touch a rainbow, but singers and songs will never change it alone. We are calling you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
I wish he would free us from Clintoon, Kennedy( murderer of Kopechnie), Dasshole and the rest of the illiterate Demorats.
3 posted on 07/22/2003 12:29:21 PM PDT by Renegade
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
President Bush said he would free the Iraqi people from the worst oppression and an evil dictator, and he did. That's good enough for me.

Couldn't ask for a more constitutionally-sound argument than that. Perhaps we could incorporate "liberating the people of foreign dictatorships" into the oath sworn by all members of the U.S. military.

4 posted on 07/22/2003 12:32:32 PM PDT by sheltonmac
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
>>But absent similar drama in the United States, there is every reason to expect the false scandal surrounding Mr. Bush's January speech will subside. Enemies of the President may find an issue to bring him down in the 2004 election. But it won't be this one.<<

Being unable to discuss issues that would sever the leftist side of their party from the moderate side, what else do the Democrats have but to pretend that a tempest in a teapot is a hurricane.

Muleteam1

5 posted on 07/22/2003 12:33:21 PM PDT by Muleteam1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
a document purporting to detail Iraq's efforts to buy uranium from Niger has been discredited as a clumsy forgery


6 posted on 07/22/2003 12:34:36 PM PDT by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
Query: Did the CIA predict 9/11?

If not, then I would say that their anti-terrorism detection abilities are limited, if not undependable, and we should thank our lucky stars that there are other friendly countries -- such as the U.K. -- that share their findings with the U.S. And if we fail to heed the relevant onformation they share with us, and fail to act appropriately in th eface of identified dangers, then we are doomed to continue to experience more 9/11-type disasters.

Bush should say, "Our friends and closest allies, the British, said they had evidence the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa. Our own CIA had received information about the same matter, too, but had been unable to completely confirm the threat. However I trusted, and still trust, the U.K. and their leadership. If we don't trust them, who can we trust?"

7 posted on 07/22/2003 12:40:59 PM PDT by PackerBoy (From the 'Rat's Big Bird, himself ...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sloth
Thanks a lot! You just made me pass fizzy Coca-Cola through my nostrils.
8 posted on 07/22/2003 12:42:04 PM PDT by PackerBoy (From the 'Rat's Big Bird, himself ...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: knighthawk
I find it extremely encouraging that the best issue the D's have to base their 2004 campaign on is one reference in the state of the union speech to Nigerian uranium, even though the national press has switched on its "nuclear powered Watergate drive" to excavate this microscopic mole hill into an issue, and will undoubtedly dedicate hundreds, if not thousands, of hours reporting and commenting on it. I just hope they realize that if a nuclear program is uncovered as part of Iraq's WMD program, the Democratic campaign of 2004 will make the voyage of the Titanic look like Apollo 11.
9 posted on 07/22/2003 1:06:05 PM PDT by Spok
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson