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Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

Fixing the evidence around the policy, after the war as well

Even after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration went on cherry-picking the "evidence" for Iraqi WMD. Just as before the war, if Bush wanted to promote a story, the story was promoted.

It was no surprise to learn from the Plame investigation, for example, that the "facts" about Iraqi contacts with Niger that the White House leaked to journalists in June/July 2003 included a fair dose of misinformation. Already been disproven? Shovel it anyway. Thus spake the Leaker in Chief, and it was good.

A little earlier that spring, Bush was being disingenuous about another matter. This involved the discovery of those ever elusive WMD in Iraq. During the spring and early summer of 2003, you'll recall, this hapless crowd went nearly hoarse crowing that it finally had found iron-clad proof. Over and over again.

The biggest 'find', though, were the mobile weapons labs. You know, the ones that hurtled down the highways and byways of Iraq, taking their bioweapons show on the road. With Kerouac as their bible, the hepcats in these trailors jived all night, drove all day, and mixed it up plenty in those back seats. Or so the administration said (more or less). Over and over again.

Now that the leaking White House is being leaked against, though, we learn that this silly story was shot down even before the White House trumpeted it for the first time on May 29, 2003. In tomorrow's Washington Post

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories....

The contents of the final report, "Final Technical Engineering Exploitation Report on Iraqi Suspected Biological Weapons-Associated Trailers," remain classified. But interviews reveal that the technical team was unequivocal in its conclusion that the trailers were not intended to manufacture biological weapons....

The technical team's findings had no apparent impact on the intelligence agencies' public statements on the trailers. A day after the team's report was transmitted to Washington -- May 28, 2003 -- the CIA publicly released its first formal assessment of the trailers, reflecting the views of its Washington analysts. That white paper, which also bore the DIA seal, contended that U.S. officials were "confident" that the trailers were used for "mobile biological weapons production."

Throughout the summer and fall of 2003, the trailers became simply "mobile biological laboratories" in speeches and press statements by administration officials.

Competing reports came in to Washington, initially. There may have been legitimate room for debate, early on, about whether these labs might be mobile (chiz!) labs. But that does not excuse the administration. About a "discovery" that was very far from certain, it expressed utter certainty. Over and over again.

Crossposted at Inconvenient News

 posted by smintheus  # 11:51 PM   0 comments  

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

Last night I called attention at Daily Kos to a remarkable claim in this Sunday's Washington Post. The front-page article refers to an unpublished, and presumably classified, document the White House received in January 2003, apparently before the now infamous State of the Union Address on Jan. 28. This memo states unequivocally that reports alleging Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger are "baseless and should be laid to rest."

That is precisely what the Bush administration did not do in the run up to war. I would be another six months before they finally admitted the obvious about the Niger claims (without however acknowledging the existence of this memo). It's a bit surprising that this revelation has not gotten more attention. So far, I've seen only Kevin Drum pick up the obvious importance of this memo, buried as it is inside a story about the Plame affair.

Anyhow, I suppose it's our job to help the story along. Here is the Washington Post:

Tenet interceded to keep the claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department "fact sheet." After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

There's no getting around it, yet another potentially explosive revelation that George Bush knowingly misled the nation about the evidence for Iraqi WMD as he rushed headlong to war. Will the media report on this memo?

Crossposted at Inconvenient News

 posted by smintheus  # 5:15 PM   0 comments  

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