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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 31, 2003

 
Do We Sense A Pattern?

The CIA objected to claims in the British government's September dossier on Iraq's banned weapons programme, the issue at the heart of the Kelly affair, it was revealed yesterday.

It appears that among the CIA's objections was the much-trumpeted claim that Iraqi forces could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so.

[…]

Yesterday, the FO revealed that the CIA was given a draft of the government's dossier on September 11 last year, the same day Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's communications director, saw it, according to evidence given to the Commons committee.

The committee asked the FO what "reservations and comments" the CIA had expressed about the September dossier in addition to the Niger uranium story. The FO replied: "The CIA made a number of comments". It declined to be specific but added: "The JIC chairman incorporated or rejected them as he judged fit."


How, then, do we explain this, from Dana Milbank’s piece in the W. Post from July 20th?

The claim, which has since been discredited, was made twice by President Bush, in a September Rose Garden appearance after meeting with lawmakers and in a Saturday radio address the same week. Bush attributed the claim to the British government, but in a "Global Message" issued Sept. 26 and still on the White House Web site, the White House claimed, without attribution, that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given."

[…]

The White House embraced the claim, from a British dossier on Iraq, at the same time it began to promote the dossier's disputed claim that Iraq sought uranium in Africa.

Bush administration officials last week said the CIA was not consulted about the claim. A senior White House official did not dispute that account, saying presidential remarks such as radio addresses are typically "circulated at the staff level" within the White House only.


But, the CIA was consulted and told the British government that it was false. Unfortunately, they apparently forgot to tell the White House because two weeks later the president made the claim in a Rose Garden appearance on September 26th, and in his radio address two days later.

Lucky for him, he was very careful, just as with the uranium issue, to attribute it to the British government so nobody can say he was technically lying. Whew!

Maybe it's just me, but I think it's quite amazing that they made more than one wild claim based upon British intelligence that it later turned out our CIA had already rejected. What are the odds of that happening?

At the very least you'd think that since they knew that elements of the dossier were "dodgy" at least since September 28th (or they would have continued to use the "sexy" 45 minute claim) they'd be extra careful about repeating other claims from that document without making sure the CIA had no objections.

Yet, even with memos flying from the CIA director about the African uranium claim, the NSC didn't put 2 and 2 together and conclude that maybe --- just like the "sexed up" 45 minute fantasy that they were forced to give up back in September --- it might be prudent to stop repeating it.

Talk about bad luck.

It would be very interesting to find out what other claims in the "dodgy dossier" the CIA objected to back in September 2002.






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