POST-COLD WAR

2003

Iraq, Uranium, and Presidential Speeches

 

Materials presented in chronological order.

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data." Washington Post, 12 Jun. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to senior administration officials and a former government official, "[a] key component of President Bush's claim ... that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program -- its alleged attempt to buy uranium in Niger -- was disputed by a CIA-directed mission to the central African nation in early 2002 .... But the CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies, the officials said."

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Says It Cabled Key Data to White House." Washington Post, 13 Jun. 2003, A16. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"[F]acing criticism for its failure to pass on a key piece of information that put in doubt Iraq's purported attempts to buy uranium from Niger," the CIA on 12 June 2003 said that "it sent a cable to the White House and other government agencies in March 2002 that said the claim had been denied by officials from the central African country. But Bush administration officials acknowledged that the 1 1/2-page document did not include the conclusion of a former U.S. ambassador dispatched by the CIA to Niger the month before that documents outlining a transfer of uranium to Baghdad were not authentic."

Leiby, Richard, and Walter Pincus. "Ex-Envoy: Nuclear Report Ignored; Iraqi Purchases Were Doubted by CIA." Washington Post, 6 Jul. 2003, A13. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Joseph C. Wilson, the retired U.S. ambassador "whose CIA-directed mission to Niger in early 2002 helped debunk claims that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium there for nuclear weapons," said on 6 July 2003 "that U.S. and British officials ignored his findings and exaggerated the public case for invading Iraq."

Ensor, David, Jonathan Karl, and Steve Turnham. "CIA Under Fire in Iraqi Intelligence Flap." CNN, 11 Jul. 2003. [http://www.cnn.com]

In a written statement on 11 July 2003, SSCI Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) criticized the CIA's "'extremely sloppy handling' of some prewar intelligence on Iraq and accused the agency of leaking information that reflected badly on President Bush."

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Asked Britain To Drop Iraq Claim; Advice on Alleged Uranium Buy Was Refused." Washington Post, 11 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to "senior Bush administration officials" on 10 July 2003, the CIA tried "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.... The British government rejected the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable to the United States."

Sanger, David E., and James Risen. "C.I.A. Chief Takes Blame in Assertion on Iraqi Uranium." New York Times, 12 Jul. 2003. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In a statement issued on 11 July 2003, DCI George J. Tenet "accepted responsibility ... for letting President Bush use information that turned out to be unsubstantiated in his State of the Union address, accusing Iraq of trying to acquire uranium from Africa to make nuclear weapons."

Pincus, Walter, and Mike Allen. "CIA Got Uranium Reference Cut in Oct.; Why Bush Cited It In Jan. Is Unclear." Washington Post, 13 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to senior administration officials, DCI George J. Tenet "intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address."

Sanger, David E. "A Shifting Spotlight on Uranium Sales." New York Times, 15 Jul. 2003. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The White House is arguing that President Bush "was technically accurate when he cited [in the State of the Union speech] a British report alleging Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa, but he never should have said it. The evidence 'did not meet the standards we use for the president,' said Condoleeza Rice, the national security adviser.... Now Ms. Rice and her colleagues are pointing the finger at [DCI] George J. Tenet."

Pincus, Walter. "Tenet Says He Didn't Know about Claim." Washington Post, 17 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to congressional and administration sources, DCI George J. Tenet told the Senate intelligence committee during a nearly five-hour closed-door session on 16 July 2003 "that his staff did not bring to his attention a questionable statement about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address." But Tenet told the senators "that he takes responsibility for the now-famous 16-word sentence ... because an agency official had approved it after negotiations with the White House."

Pincus, Walter, and Dana Priest. "U.S. Had Uranium Papers Earlier: Officials Say Forgeries on Iraqi Efforts Reached State Dept. Before Speech." Washington Post, 18 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

At the closed-door SSCI hearing on 16 July 2003, Alan Foley, director of the CIA's intelligence, nonproliferation and arms control center, disclosed that "on the eve of [President] Bush's Jan. 28 State of the Union address, Robert Joseph, an assistant to the president in charge of nonproliferation at the National Security Council (NSC), initially asked the CIA if the allegation that Iraq sought to purchase 500 pounds of uranium from Niger could be included in the presidential speech....

"Foley ... told committee members that the controversial 16-word sentence was eventually suggested by Joseph in a telephone conversation just a day or two before the speech, according to congressional and administration sources who were present at the five-hour session. At the hearing, Foley said he called Joseph to object to mentioning Niger and that a specific amount of uranium was being sought. Joseph agreed to eliminate those two elements but then proposed that the speech use more general language, citing British intelligence that said Iraq had recently been seeking uranium in Africa."

Phelps, Timothy M., and Knut Royce. "Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover." Newsday, 22 Jul. 2003. [http://www.newsday.com]

"The identity of an undercover CIA officer whose husband [Ambassador Joseph Wilson] started the Iraq uranium intelligence controversy has been publicly revealed by a conservative Washington columnist [Robert Novak] citing 'two senior administration officials.' Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday" on 21 July 2003 that Wilson's wife "worked at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity."

Milbank, Dana, and Walter Pincus. "Bush Aides Disclose Warnings From CIA." Washington Post, 23 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

White House officials said on 22 July 2003 that "[t]he The CIA sent two memos to the White House," dated 5 and 6 October 2002, "voicing strong doubts about a claim ... that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear material in Africa." Deputy national security adviser Stephen J. "Hadley, who also received a phone call from [DCI] George J. Tenet before the president's Oct. 7 speech asking that the Africa allegation be removed, took the blame for allowing the charge to be revived in the State of the Union address." See also, David E. Sanger and Judith Miller, "National Security Aide Says He's to Blame for Speech Error," New York Times, 23 Jul. 2003.

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Director George J. Tenet Discusses the National Intelligence Estimate." Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2003, A10. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

This article presents excerpts from DCI Tenet's written responses to a series of oral and written questions from the Washington Post about the 1 October 2002 NIE on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Pincus, Walter. "[Senate] Panel to See Prewar CIA Memos on Iraq: White House Agrees on Release." Washington Post, 5 Nov. 2003, A24. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

A White House official said on 4 November 2003 that "[t]he White House will agree to share with the Senate intelligence committee CIA memos from October 2002 that warned the White House against saying that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium in Africa."

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