All of the mainstream media outlets are reporting that Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet has accepted responsibility for his agency passing bad information to President Bush about Iraq purchasing uranium from Africa. “I am responsible for the approval process in my agency,” Tenet said in a prepared statement.
President Bush, you’ll recall, used the unsubstantiated claims in his State of the Union address to justify preemptive war on Iraq: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Bush stated in his 28 January speech. Oops.
Nevermind that information upon which the British based its assessment originated in U.S. intelligence agencies. Nevermind that Secretary of State Colin Powell’s staff had already dismissed the information as bogus and Powell elected not to use it in his presentation to the United Nations.
Shrub’s clumsy Texas two-step to dodge this relatively minor issue would have probably worked two months ago, save for one inconvenience. According to today’s New York Times report, Bush and his administration had already been told that the information about Iraq attempting to purchase uranium from Africa was almost certainly false more than three months before Bush’s State of the Union address. After reviewing a draft of President Bush’s 7 October speech in Cincinnati, the CIA requested that mention of Iraq’s attempt to purchase uranium from Africa be removed.
Oh, that and the assertion in today’s Washington Post account that Tenet’s statement “had been in the works for two days” makes this all seem rather badly choreographed.
To paraphrase a song during the Watergate era that I can neither remember nor find, “You’re the one they voted for, Shrub, we didn’t elect your friends.”