CIA: no evidence that Saddam “sought” yellowcake

May 2, 2006

The CIA sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger because they had received reports, based on the forged sales agreement, that Iraq had bought uranium from that African country.

Blogger eriposte, at leftcoaster, writes dry, repetitive prose, and he uses a layout that’s the typographic equivalent of a Phyllis Diller clothing boutique. But he does his homework, in spades. He’s just started a series on the way that right wing commentators have obscured the utterly falsity of the “Saddam bought yellowcake” claim by morphing it into a claim that Saddam “sought” uranium. Then their story goes that Wilson’s trip somehow made the latter claim more credible. As eriposte proves, by diving deeply into the official documents, the claim was false, and Wilson’s trip made it less credible.

The primary documents in question are the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the British Butler report. Both were designed as whitewashes, but if one looks beyond the executive summaries and the much-quoted Republican addendum to the SSCI report, the wash proves thin, and the dark grain of the underlying deception shows through.

Clicking through eriposte’s links to one of his earlier posts, I was slightly flabbergasted to learn that the CIA, in an official, unclassified memo written after Wilson’s trip, which was quoted in the SSCI, informed the DCI (i.e., George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence) that the “sought” was as spurious as the “bought”:

On June 17, 2003, nearly five months after the President delivered the State of the Union address, the CIA produced a memorandum for the DCI which said, “since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false documents earlier this spring, we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad.” This memorandum was not distributed outside the CIA and the Committee has not been provided with any intelligence products in which the CIA published its corrected assessment on Iraq’s pursuit of uranium from Niger outside of the agency. [page 71]

(Emphasis mine.) Obviously, the spooks did not agree with the Senate Republican spin, that the Niger journey somehow bolstered the truthiness of Bush’s infamous sixteen words in the 2003 State of the Union address. Nor did they appear to assess the British “intelligence”, all of it ultimately based on the same forgeries, as “sufficient other reporting”.


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