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« The Joseph Wilson yellowcake fiver: Safest $5 in the world | Main | Strange: Rash of butt shootings in Philadelphia »

April 12, 2006



President Bush's comment was literally true - but highly misleading.

The British government joined in the fiasco of claiming that Iraq sought nuclear material. They never said what evidence they had other than the Italian forgeries. The CIA looked at all the evidence the CIA had, including Wilson's, and repudiated the claim that Iraq "recently sought uranium".

That's why George Tenet had to repudiate and withdraw the President claim. If the President's claim was well-founded, why was it withdrawn?


By the way, I am offering $5.01 to anyone - ANYONE - who can prove that Frank Warner is not the King of the Leprechauns.


eeze nahevon anorjinerry leperkawn! Payper mooney ferthluva Mab!


So? What information did Wilson provide that "repudiates" it?

Christopher Taylor

Actually, the case for invading Iraq was fairly broad and well-established. The Iraqis signed a cease fire agreement in 1992 and among the things they agreed to was to not associate with or support terrorism (guilty), turn over or demonstrate they destroyed their WMD (guilty), cease seeking after further WMD production (guilty), and cease hostility against coalition forces (guilty, shot at the patrols enforcing the no-fly zone repeatedly).

This is aside from the other reasons, such as attempting to assassinate a former president (one of the oldest causus belli in history). The entire case to say the war was unjust is based on either second guessing intel or things it was not possible to know until after we'd invaded.

jj mollo

Its really so beside the point. It's my contention that if you have serious evidence that a leader has put even one of his citizens through the wood chipper, or had a woman gang-raped as a punishment, or assassinated a political opponent without at least trying to hide the evidence, then he should be put on the enemies list. We'll get to him when its his turn. There is a certain level of barbarity which should be tolerated only if you have no choice. People who take action against such a creature should be commended.

Frank Warner

It gets down to this: I like to speak my mind, and I know that had I lived in Iraq under Saddam, I would have had my tongue cut out.

His victims were me. If I expected to feel free, the Iraqis had to be free.

Frank Warner

B-the-1 has a point. Among the claims that Saddam had or was seeking WMDs, the case that Saddam sought uranium from Africa was probably the best the Bush administration had. And yet by mid-2003, it was the only point the Bush administration had retracted.

Why? I think it was partly that the Bush White House was hearing too much about forgeries at the time, and some officials panicked. I think it also had to do with the fact that Joe Wilson wasn't mentioning publicly what former Nigerien Prime Minister Mayaki had told him in 2002 about the Iraqis' overture in 1999, and the White House hadn't seen Wilson's report to the CIA because Wilson hadn't put anything in writing and the CIA didn't think much of what he found anyway.

But it is a good question, and it's curious that no one in the press has ever asked Bush or Cheney about it.

Frank Warner

But I don't think the CIA ever "repudiated" the claim that Saddam sought uranium in Africa.

Frank Warner

On a wild tangent here: In preparing that special Iraq-truth five-dollar bill with PhotoShop, I noticed a major flaw in the relatively new $5 design. The fold really messes up the left side of Abraham Lincoln's face.

It doesn't take long before the folded bill destroys the ink in the middle, and the effect is to wash out important facial features of honest Abe. Poor planning.


Um, Frank, in the interest of your peace of mind, I will take every marred that bothers you$5 bill off of your hands.

Frank Warner

Only if Saddam was a democrat.


Certainly there was a solid case for invading Iraq and removing Saddam. What a pity then that it wasn't the case that our government chose to make. (Nor, on current evidence, the case that motivated the administration either.)


Despite the solid reasons, it does seem that the administration didn't make the best case for going after Iraq. I suspect the UN factored into this. All of those solid reasons were old reasons. The UN doesn't care about what happened then (especially if it was targeted at the U.S.); it cares (somewhat) about what is happening now. I believe the administration was attempting to pump up the more recent findings that the UN should have cared about (but ultimately didn't).

For some people, there never is a solid case for going to war. Their whole family could have been raped and shredded in wood chippers and they still wouldn't fight.

Frank Warner


The fact is, the very first reason in Bush’s case for action against Saddam was Saddam’s violation of U.N. Resolution 688, which required that Saddam end his repression of the Iraqi people.

On Sept. 12, 2002, six months before the Iraq invasion, Bush told the United Nations:

“By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

“In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

“Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.”

Bush also said in that speech:

“The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they’ve suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal.”

Bush said Saddam hadn't cooperated with the arms inspectors immediately and fully; Saddam had supported terrorists; Saddam hadn't returned 600 Kuwaiti POWS; and Saddam had stolen from the Oil-for-Food program.

Bush gave lots of good reasons to remove Saddam, which just goes to remind you: Any president who leads a nation to battle for only one reason probably hasn't thought the whole thing out.

Christopher Taylor

Yes, Bush made the case in a variety of ways (I listed some), but WMD is what stuck in people's minds. Probably because they are justifiably scary and something that gets attention.

Count me in as one frustrated by the administration's caving on these weapons, there is a great deal of evidence that Hussein moved at least some to Syria, and no evidence he destroyed them.

The tapes in which Hussein appears to note he has no WMD does puzzle me, although I have no doubt he was willing to go on record saying such a thing for later use whether it was true or not.

In any case, JJ Mollo, I could not agree more. We went to war to stop the slaughter in Kosovo, certainly we had at least as much cause in Iraq. I could make the case for North Korea the same way, for that matter.

But I beleive folks like George mentioned have been so successful in creating a certain political climate that it's impossible for any president to take any military action anywhere now.


I agree Christopher.

As far as the CIA repudiating the claims about Iran-Niger - that did not happen. Look at the ISSC report and the Key Judgments section of the NIE.

From the NIE:

How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

* If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.

* Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.

o Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors--as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools--provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)

o Iraq's efforts to re-establish and enhance its cadre of weapons personnel as well as activities at several suspect nuclear sites further indicate that reconstitution is underway.

o All agencies agree that about 25,000 centrifuges based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire would be capable of producing approximately two weapons' worth of highly enriched uranium per year.

*****skip some*****

Uranium Acquisition. Iraq retains approximately two-and-a-half tons of 2.5 percent enriched uranium oxide, which the IAEA permits. This low-enriched material could be used as feed material to produce enough HEU for about two nuclear weapons. The use of enriched feed material also would reduce the initial number of centrifuges that Baghdad would need by about half. Iraq could divert this material -- the IAEA inspects it only once a year -- and enrich it to weapons grade before a subsequent inspection discovered it was missing. The IAEA last inspected this material in late January 2002.

Iraq has about 500 metric tons of yellowcake1 and low enriched uranium at Tuwaitha, which is inspected annually by the IAEA. Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.

* A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement.

* Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources. Reports suggest Iraq is shifting from domestic mining and milling of uranium to foreign acquisition. Iraq possesses significant phosphate deposits, from which uranium had been chemically extracted before Operation Desert Storm. Intelligence information on whether nuclear-related phosphate mining and/or processing has been reestablished is inconclusive, however.

* In a much less likely scenario, Baghdad could make enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by 2005 to 2007 if it obtains suitable centrifuge tubes this year and has all the other materials and technological expertise necessary to build production-scale uranium enrichment facilities.

Remember that the INR doubted some of the information, but the CIA controlled what went into the final conclusions of the NIE. That is what Bush had in his hands when he made decisions.

Christopher Taylor

Sure, its the same data President Clinton and Congress had in 1998 when they officially made the position of the US for regime change in Iraq. It's the same intel that President Clinton used in Operation Desert Fox. There was no reason to doubt it, and plenty of reason to believe it.

Given what little we've found I think the case is overwhelming. But I don't think anti-war activists are particularly interested in evidence or facts. They oppose war at any cost, or at least by a Republican.

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