View Full Version : CIA approved Bush remarks on Iraq

Sgt Sostand
07-11-03, 12:49 PM
State of Union speech referring
to nuclear weapons claim was cleared

ENTEBBE, Uganda, July 11 — Amid increasing criticism and doubts cast on U.S. intelligence that led to the war against Iraq, the Bush administration Friday continued its defense of President Bush’s case for ousting Saddam Hussein. U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the CIA had cleared Bush’s January State of the Union speech in its entirety, including a sentence — now labeled false — alleging Iraq was looking to buy uranium from Africa.

IF CIA DIRECTOR George Tenet had any misgivings about that sentence in the president’s speech, “he did not make them known” to Bush or his staff, said Rice.
Her comments came as the administration presented a spirited defense of Bush’s use of the nuclear allegation against Saddam Hussein, which the White House subsequently acknowledged was based on false information.
On Thursday, the Senate agreed to an amendment that would authorize a “thorough and expeditious joint investigation” into assertions that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa, and require parts of that inquiry to be made public. The amendment was offered to the State Department authorization bill, which could be approved by the Senate as early as next week.
The White House acknowledged this week it had been a mistake to insert the nuclear claim and that documents alleging a transaction between Iraq and Niger had been forged.
Rice’s comments to reporters aboard Air Force One came a day after other senior U.S. officials said that before and after Bush’s Jan. 28 speech, American intelligence officials expressed doubts about a British intelligence report that the president cited to back up his allegations.
The Washington Post reported Friday that those doubts were relayed to British officials before they made them public, and that word was passed to people at several agencies of the U.S. government before Bush gave that nationally broadcast speech.
But Rice said Friday that “the CIA cleared the speech in its entirety.”
The agency raised only one objection to the sentence involving an allegation that Iraq was trying to obtain yellow cake uranium, she said. “Some specifics about amount and place were taken out,” Rice added.
“With the changes in that sentence, the speech was cleared,” she said. “The agency did not say they wanted that sentence out.”

Rice made the defense of the White House in a rare 50-minute meeting with reporters aboard the president’s plane as Bush flew from South Africa to Uganda. Questions about the allegations in Bush’s January speech have followed him on his five-day trip through Africa.
According to Rice, the CIA had mentioned such a claim — that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Africa — in a classified National Intelligence Assessment made periodically to the president.
“If the CIA — the director of central intelligence — had said ‘Take this out of the speech,’ it would have been gone,” Rice said. “We have a high standard for the president’s speeches.”
Asked whether Bush had confidence in the intelligence agency, Rice replied, “Absolutely.”
When queried on reports that the CIA expressed concern to the White House about the allegation, she suggested that Tenet should be asked directly. “I’m not blaming anyone here,” Rice said.
NBC’s David Gregory, traveling with the president, reported that Rice spoke to CIA director Tenet on Friday before she made her remarks to reporters. A senior U.S. official told Gregory that Rice and Tenet have spoken repeatedly about the issue.

“The president did not knowingly say anything that we knew to be false,” she said. “We wouldn’t put anything knowingly in the speech that was false.”
If anyone at the CIA had doubts about the veracity of the uranium-Iraq allegation, Rice said, “those doubts were not communicated to the president.”