Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, July 11, 2003  

All righty. Here it is, straight from the horse's mouth:

I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services. And it was a speech that detailed to the American people the dangers posed by the Saddam Hussein regime. And my government took the appropriate response to those dangers. And as a result, the world is going to be more secure and more peaceful.

(After which a reporter asked--amusingly--"But, sir, how did it get into your speech if it was erroneous?" He declined to answer.)

Why are lefties beating this horse? Because it's not dead--not by a long shot. The President has been playing a high-stakes game of "find-my-lie," playing essentially the Clinton game of parsing the meaning of language. The original statement in the State of the Union speech was relatively benign, and if the President had kept his mouth shut, he might have been able to shuck and jive his way through this mine field.

The quote in question: "The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Based on this statement, Bush could have shunted all responsibility off on the British. But by increments, he's made bolder and bolder statements--verifiable statements. Today's is the most declarative yet: "I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services."

Now we have something to check. And guess what? Evidence is mounting that this comment is a lie (and thus the credibility about the whole justifcation for war is thrown into question). To wit, the New Republic recently published an article that reported the CIA knew this was bad information. Yesterday's Post had a similar article.

The CIA tried unsuccessfully in early September 2002 to persuade the British government to drop from an official intelligence paper a reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa that President Bush included in his State of the Union address four months later, senior Bush administration officials said yesterday....

Only eight days after the State of the Union speech, however, Powell himself did not repeat the uranium allegation when he presented the administration's case against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council....

The early drafts of the speech did not include Britain as the source of the information, according to administration officials. A senior official denied that Britain was inserted in the final draft because the CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community were concerned that the charge could not be supported. The British addition was made only "because they were the first to say it publicly in their September paper," the official said.

Bush has blundered, and the Democrats should make him pay. Today's admission is the clearest example yet that the President's version of reality doesn't align well with the facts. Where he might have once argued "fuzzy intelligence," he is now on record saying this was information credible to the intelligence community from which it came. That's a testable statement, and we should take Bush up on the implicit offer and judge it against the facts. Inquiry, anyone?

posted by Jeff | 10:49 AM |
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