Sunday, August 10, 2003

Sunday's Washington Post headline is this

Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence
Not that this surprises me a bit, but the Washington Post is the only one, until now, to come with such a blunt headline. Excerpts from the story, that traces the story of a CIA analyst called Joe, on the
An engineer-turned-CIA analyst, Joe had helped build the U.S. government case that Iraq posed a nuclear threat. He landed in Vienna on Jan. 22 and drove to the U.S. diplomatic mission downtown. In a conference room 32 floors above the Danube River, he told United Nations nuclear inspectors they were making a serious mistake.

At issue was Iraq's efforts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes. The U.S. government said those tubes were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. But the IAEA, the world's nuclear watchdog, had uncovered strong evidence that Iraq was using them for conventional rockets.

Joe described the rocket story as a transparent Iraqi lie. According to people familiar with his presentation, which circulated before and afterward among government and outside specialists, Joe said the specialized aluminum in the tubes was "overspecified," "inappropriate" and "excessively strong." No one, he told the inspectors, would waste the costly alloy on a rocket.
Moving on to the yellowcake-disaster. The Bush administration admitted that it was a mistake to include it in the State of the Union speech, but at the end stood by it, citing the Brits's evidence. But it's still unclear on what evidence that claim is based on, or whether there's any evidence at all. The Independent:
Only Britain has refused to withdraw or apologise, even after the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, admitted this month that the CIA had sought to dissuade the Government from maintaining its uranium claim. He and Tony Blair continue to insist that Britain had "separate intelligence" proving the Niger connection, though the only hint they have given as to its nature is that it concerns a visit to the country by an Iraqi representative in 1999. "Former Niger government officials believed that this was in connection with the procurement of yellow cake [uranium]," according to Mr Straw, clinging to the last vestiges of credibility. Since by his own account Mr Zahawie met only the President of Niger, who died soon afterwards, the whole claim appears to be based on shaky supposition.


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