Sunday, July 11, 2004

New British Inquiry Is Showing That Saddam Did Seek Uranium in Africa

Jack Kelly, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, decisively argues against the idea that Bush lied about Iraqi attempts to purchase yellowcake in Africa.
Britain's Financial Times reported Wednesday that an official British government inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq has concluded that Britain's MI-6 was correct to conclude that Saddam Hussein's regime had sought to buy uranium ore from Niger.

If so, this gives the lie to the charge that "Bush lied!" when he said in his 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
I like how Mr. Kelly quickly gets to the key point: the keystone of the "Bush lied" campaign is gone. It didn't vanish -- it never existed.
The "Bush lied!" charge hung on two slender reeds. The first is that the only "evidence" the CIA had at the time of an Iraq-Niger-yellowcake connection was a fairly obvious forgery obtained through Italian sources. The second was the "investigation" conducted in early 2002 by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson on behalf of the CIA.

Wilson spent less than two weeks in Niger. In his July 2003 New York Times op-ed about the investigation, in which he described his methodology as "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business." The people he talked to told him that Niger hadn't sold uranium to Iraq. Wilson's op-ed accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence -- and ignoring his report on Niger -- to justify a war on Iraq.

There were two problems with Wilson's investigation. The first is that the people to whom Wilson was talking might not have been telling him the truth. The second is that to say that Niger did not sell uranium to Iraq is not the same as saying Iraq did not try to buy yellowcake ore from Niger.

In fact, Wilson himself has confirmed that Iraq did indeed try to buy uranium from Niger.
Game, set, match.


Blogger PusBoy said...

Not so fast. See:

Lord Byron's report hangs the new evidence on Niger's former prime minister Ibrahim Mayaki, saying that he admitted to meeting with Iraqis regarding the purchase of uranium. Problem is. Ibrahim Mayaki denies he ever admitted such a thing.

You might wanna take the whole "game, set, match thing" down.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Gunner said...

Thanks for your comment. Glad to see somebody has read something here. I stand by my "Game, set, match" as it cannot be shown that the President knowingly lied about anything.

Also, consider this tidbit from the Washington Post (

Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq -- which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq."

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.
Also, from your link:

The chair of the UK enquiry into the quality of British intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction said this information had come from several sources.

The forged documents were not available to the British government when it was making its case for the war and so did not undermine its conclusion, Lord Butler said.

Given all this, I don't see how it could in any way be argued that Bush lied.

10:14 PM  

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