LA Times’ yellowcake “scoop” comes more than two years after I proved the same thing; also, mice are no match for con men Bush and Blair
In the previous post I noted how the NBA has finally figured out something that I figured out and wrote about years earlier. Well, on a somewhat more serious matter — tricking the American public into supporting an unnecessary war — last Friday (Feb 17) the Los Angeles Times revealed something that I proved in this Oct 2003 essay. To wit, that public, pre-war statements by the U.S. and British governments that Iraq was pursuing uranium from Africa or, more specifically, from Niger, were all based on forged documents or summaries of those forgeries. Other bits of equally worthless “evidence” being passed around by various intel agencies prior to the war simply didn’t support the 2002 claim by the Brits that Iraq was pursuing “significant quantities” of African uranium. And that claim — which the Brits sometimes presented as a claim, sometimes as a fact, and sometimes as an entirely different fact (an early draft of the Brits’ Iraq WMD “dossier” stated that they knew for a fact that uranium ore had not merely been sought, but bought!) — was the basis for Bush’s false statement in the 2003 State of the Union address about what the Brits’ had “learned.”
Incidentally, while much attention was belatedly paid to that now-infamous 16-word sentence, to fully appreciate the deceitful nature of the Bush team, you need to examine the entire paragraph that included those 16 words. I did so in my pre-war writings, and then in greater depth in the summer of 2003, after the yellowcake poop hit the fan, in this essay.
My politics aren’t that different from Tony Blair’s, but it’s hard to like someone so unscrupulous. As with Bush over here, in the run-up to war he repeatedly claimed to know for a fact things about Iraq and WMD he couldn’t possibly KNOW. Even when his intel chief told him that certain juicy info came from new Iraqi informants of unknown reliability — info that contradicted what the Brits were hearing from longer-term informants with a pretty good track record — Blair pretended publicly that the juicy but unconfirmed stuff was rock solid.
The LAT’s Drogin and Hamburger show how the will to believe — or, more likely, the willingness to pretend you believe — made this The Story That Would Not Die. No matter how many times honest intelligence officials in France and elsewhere sought to reassure various U.S. officials that uranium had not been diverted from the Nigerien mines France operated, and that there was no worthwhile evidence even of Iraqi interest in Nigerien uranium, the tale kept being revived. And not just by the bogeymen of so many of my liberal bretheren, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Powell peddled it in a major speech BEFORE Bush’s State of the Union address, and his State Dept put it in a so-called “Fact Sheet” in Dec. 2002.
The reason The Story That Would Not Die lived on is that the various truth-tellers were speaking up only in private. If any number of US and foreign officials who knew early on just how flimsy or even worthless the evidence was had said so publicly — had put their name, face, title and expertise on the line and said what they knew about the uranium tale — Bush, Blair and Powell would have had to sheepishly abandon that very scary propaganda theme. But on this and quite a few other pre-war issues, those in the know would not step forward. I addressed this phenomenon in 2003 in an essay called Of Mice and (Con) Men.
Respected figures from State, such as Richard Haass, and the CIA, such as Paul Pillar, stepped forward at some point after the Iraq war was launched to say that long before the Fall 2002 congressional debate, it had been made clear to them that Bush had already made up his mind to invade. (Haass got that word from Condi Rice around July 2002.) Yet they kept quiet as Bush assured the nation again and again that he had not made up his mind, that war should only be a last resort, and that he was quite willing to give diplomacy and inspections a fair chance. Haass, Pillar and others thus believed that Bush was misrepresenting his state of mind on a question of war and peace. If they had spoken up, if Congress had known Bush had made up his mind and was going to the U.N. for inspections partly as a ruse and partly to give cover to Tony Blair, we would have had an entirely different debate. Congress and the public would have known not simply that Bush was intent on war, but that he had been deceiving us on that critical matter. Could he have gotten a congressional authorization for the use of force under THOSE circumstances? I doubt it. So why are Haass, Pillar and their ilk continued to be thought of as respectable?