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As the world watches Tony Blair twist in the wind as his political career wanes with accusations of Dodgy Dossiers and his misleading of parliament, the domino drops onto the Bush administration as accusations begin to fly on this side of the Atlantic. The precedent for what happens to Bush as further evidence of the misleading justification for the invasion of Iraq could be the smaller-scale battleground in the British Parliament.

There is, however, a key difference: Tony Blair is nearing the legislated end to his reign next year, and George W. Bush will be fighting for re-election in 2004. Will the scandal die with Tony Blair in Britain? Will the Democrats seize the opportunity to expose a conspiracy of the highest order in an attempt to dethrone Herr Bush? This will be a mere political gurgle until the campaigning begins in earnest next year.

-Ian.

——- http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cidW8&ncidW8&e=7&u=/nm/ 20030711/ts_nm/iraq_usa_weapons_dc

White House Ignored CIA Over Iraq Uranium Claim-CBS

2 hours, 27 minutes ago

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House ignored a request by the CIA ( news -web sites ) to remove a statement in President Bush ( news -web sites )’s State of the Union address that Iraq ( news -web sites ) was seeking uranium from Africa for its nuclear weapons program, CBS Evening News reported on Thursday.

The White House acknowledged this week it had been a mistake to put the claim about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa in Bush’s January speech and that documents alleging a transaction between Iraq and Niger had been forged.

Critics have seized on the statement as a prime example of the Bush administration’s campaign to mislead the public by hyping the threat posed by Iraq to gain support for the war.

The CIA checked the parts Bush’s speech dealing with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction for accuracy and CIA officials warned White House National Security Council staff that the intelligence was not strong enough to flatly state that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa, CBS News said.

White House officials argued that since a paper issued by the British government contained the assertion, if it was attributed to Britain it would be factually accurate, CBS said. CIA officials dropped their objections, CBS said.

A CIA spokesman declined comment on the CBS report, which was sourced to senior Bush administration officials. A White House spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a related development, the CIA told British intelligence last year that the American intelligence agency did not have high confidence in reports that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium from Africa, a U.S. official told Reuters.

“We had concerns about the veracity of the story and we shared those concerns with them but in the end they thought that their information was solid and they went with it,” the U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

DOCUMENTS FORGED

British intelligence decided the information they had was solid and included it in a report issued in September 2002, the official said.

The CIA shared its concerns shortly before the British report was issued and before the American intelligence agency had seen the Niger documents, which now have been determined to be forgeries.

“We had no idea they were forgeries, we didn’t get the documents until much later,” the U.S. official said. “We weren’t sure it was true, didn’t have high confidence of it being accurate for a variety of reasons,” the official said.

The Washington Post first reported the CIA’s unsuccessful effort to persuade Britain to drop the Iraq uranium claim. The British government rejected the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable to the United States, the newspaper reported.

Bush delivered the following line in his State of the Union speech in January: “The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein ( news -web sites ) had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

The Italian intelligence service circulated reports about the Niger documents — not the documents themselves — to other Western intelligence services in early 2002, and that was apparently how the British and U.S. intelligence services learned of them, U.S. government sources have said.

Since invading U.S. forces ousted Saddam from power in April, no biological or chemical weapons have been found, nor evidence that Iraq and restarted its nuclear weapons program.

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