The “16 Words”
During the State the Union Address on January 28, 2003, President Bush said:
Bush: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. (thanks for factcheck.org)
Here’s your short hand guide to the story. Then check below at the links (after reading the factcheck.org stuff) to see for yourself.
Bush Lied about Pre War Intelligence? Well if he did then he conspired with a WHOLE lot of people to do that.
*source WSJ 11/3/05
#1 6/04- The Senate Intelligence Committee released bi partisan 500 page report about pre war intelligence. In addition to being angered at Joe Wilson for lying to the committee, the committee also finds there was never an attempt to, “coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgements related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.”
#2 7/04-Butler report is issued by the British similarly finding there was no evidence of “deliberate distortion” although it criticised the quality of pre war intelligence.
#3 3/05—Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding ‘no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Comunnuntiy’s pre war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs…analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter anyu of their analytical judgements. We conclude that it was a paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre war intelligence assessments. **(Victoria here: guess that helps to answer the question about why CIA suits don’t dig Bush)
#4 Patrick Fitzgerald—Prosecutor in the Scooter Libby case who said, “This indictment’s not about the propriety of the war, and [people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are—have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vidication of how they feel.”
7/03 Joe Wilson publishes his op ed piece in the NYT where he claims he’d debunked President Bush’s 16 words on the Iraqi attempt to buy yellowcake. He dropped his line after the Senate and Bulter reports(and even got dropped from the Kerry campaign when it was shown he had lied to the senate intelligence committee of which Kerry and John Edwards were members at the time) and has now resurrected them for the willing fans in the Bush Lied fan club.
*of note is Mr. Wilson’s debrief to the CIA in which he admitted Saddam had tried to buy yellowcake in 1999 when Saddam sent his people to Niger to make the overture, but didn’t make his op ed piece. The fact that Saddam did try to buy yellow cake before did, however, make the senate report and the butler report.
*The senate intelligence committee found it was Valerie Wilson who suggested her non WMD, didn’t write a report, was allowed to file a story telling about his mission in the NYT, who sent her husband. CIA docs also prove this conclusion.
WSJ 11/3/05 “The only real support there has ever been for the “bush lied” storyline came from a man who is himself a demonstrable liar.”
The famous “16 words” in President Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003 State of the Union address turn out to have a basis in fact after all, according to two recently released investigations in the US and Britain.
Bush said then, “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” Some of his critics called that a lie, but the new evidence shows Bush had reason to say what he did.
A British intelligence review released July 14 calls Bush’s 16 words “well founded.”
A separate report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee said July 7 that the US also had similar information from “a number of intelligence reports,” a fact that was classified at the time Bush spoke.
Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger .
Both the US and British investigations make clear that some forged Italian documents, exposed as fakes soon after Bush spoke, were not the basis for the British intelligence Bush cited, or the CIA’s conclusion that Iraq was trying to get uranium.
None of the new information suggests Iraq ever nailed down a deal to buy uranium, and the Senate report makes clear that US intelligence analysts have come to doubt whether Iraq was even trying to buy the stuff. In fact, both the White House and the CIA long ago conceded that the 16 words shouldn’t have been part of Bush’s speech.
But what he said – that Iraq sought uranium – is just what both British and US intelligence were telling him at the time. So Bush may indeed have been misinformed, but that’s not the same as lying.
The “16 words” in Bush’s State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003 have been offered as evidence that the President led the US into war using false information intentionally. The new reports show Bush accurately stated what British intelligence was saying, and that CIA analysts believed the same thing.
The “16 Words”
During the State the Union Address on January 28, 2003, President Bush said:
Bush: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The Butler Report
After nearly a six-month investigation, a special panel reported to the British Parliament July 14 that British intelligence had indeed concluded back in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium. The review panel was headed by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who had been a cabinet secretary under five different Prime Ministers and who is currently master of University College, Oxford.
The Butler report said British intelligence had “credible” information — from several sources — that a 1999 visit by Iraqi officials to Niger was for the purpose of buying uranium:
Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.
The Butler Report affirmed what the British government had said about the Niger uranium story back in 2003, and specifically endorsed what Bush said as well.
Butler Report: By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was well-founded.
The Senate Intelligence Committee Report
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported July 7, 2004 that the CIA had received reports from a foreign government (not named, but probably Britain) that Iraq had actually concluded a deal with Niger to supply 500 tons a year of partially processed uranium ore, or “yellowcake.” That is potentially enough to produce 50 nuclear warheads.
Wilson: Bush’s Words “The Lie”
(From a web chat sponsored by Kerry for President Oct. 29, 2003)
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:24:53 AM)I would remind you that had Mr.. Cheney taken into consideration my report as well as 2 others submitted on this subject, rather than the forgeries
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:06 AM)the lie would never have been in President Bush’s State of the Union address
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:14 AM)so when they ask, “Who betrayed the President?”
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:30 AM)They need to point the finger at the person who inserted the 16 words, not at the person who found the truth of the matterThe Senate report said the CIA then asked a “former ambassador” to go to Niger and report. That is a reference to Joseph Wilson — who later became a vocal critic of the President’s 16 words. The Senate report said Wilson brought back denials of any Niger-Iraq uranium sale, and argued that such a sale wasn’t likely to happen. But the Intelligence Committee report also reveals that Wilson brought back something else as well — evidence that Iraq may well have wanted to buy uranium.
Wilson reported that he had met with Niger’s former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki, who said that in June 1999 he was asked to meet with a delegation from Iraq to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between the two countries.Based on what Wilson told them, CIA analysts wrote an intelligence report saying former Prime Minister Mayki “interpreted ‘expanding commercial relations’ to mean that the (Iraqi) delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales.” In fact, the Intelligence Committee report said that “for most analysts” Wilson’s trip to Niger “lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal.”
The subject of uranium sales never actually came up in the meeting, according to what Wilson later told the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. He quoted Mayaki as saying that when he met with the Iraqis he was wary of discussing any trade issues at all because Iraq remained under United Nations sanctions. According to Wilson, Mayaki steered the conversation away from any discussion of trade.
For that reason, Wilson himself has publicly dismissed the significance of the 1999 meeting. He said on NBC’s Meet the Press May 2, 2004:
Wilson: …At that meeting, uranium was not discussed. It would be a tragedy to think that we went to war over a conversation in which uranium was not discussed because the Niger official was sufficiently sophisticated to think that perhaps he might have wanted to discuss uranium at some later date.
But that’s not the way the CIA saw it at the time. In the CIA’s view, Wilson’s report bolstered suspicions that Iraq was indeed seeking uranium in Africa. The Senate report cited an intelligence officer who reviewed Wilson’s report upon his return from Niger:
Committee Report: He (the intelligence officer) said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerian officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerian Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.