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Iraq War 2003

Iraq attack: How to supplement the US budget  (pre-war)

Ultimatum: The Bush/Blair lie: France’s veto (March 12-20 2003)

WarTalk-1  (March 20 – April 13 2003: Combat)

WarTalk-2  (April 15-18 2003: Occupation)

The pretexts for war: WMD + France’s veto (this page)

National Intelligence Estimate (Oct. 1 2002), excerpts released July 18 2003

Henry Waxman’s letter to Condoleezza Rice (July 29 2003)

David Kay transcript: Annotated, linked, and challenged (Jan. 28 2004, Senate Armed Services Committee)

“Hutton Report: Exemplifying Zealotry”

“Saddam was a bad man”: The post-war pretext for war (coming-up)


The pretexts for war:
WMD + France’s veto

by Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

First, the mushroom cloud:

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.”

G.W. Bush, Jan. 28 2003

The question Jack Straw refused to answer

(UK Foreign Secretary), a lawyer. UK House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, The Decision to go to War in Iraq, “Response to Questions to the Foreign Secretary” (July 30 2003):

Question (July 15 2003):

“Will the Secretary of State put in the Library of the House in the next 24 hours the dates on which the security and intelligence services learned that the Niger documents were forged {292 kb pdf} and the date on which Ministers were advised that they were forged?”

Answer (July 29 2003):

“We first had indications that the IAEA had suspicions about the authenticity of some of the documents in late February but no confirmation of that until the IAEA gave its report to the Security Council on 7 March. Ministers were then informed.”

And so, instead of answering the question (when did they first learn the documents were forged), they stated when they first learned that the IAEA first learned about it. This purposeful evasion likely means only one thing, namely: that UK Government officials first learned much earlier that the documents were forged.

The US has criminal laws to punish such purposeful evasion, and thereby enforce the integrity of government. Hence, this answer (if persisted in) would constitute a criminal offense in the US (refusal to answer the question), a one-year prison sentence (2 U.S.C. § 192).

In the UK, purposeful evasions, like this one, are routine. The UK has no criminal laws to enforce integrity of government. A witness can refuse to answer a question from a Parliamentary committee and can also lie to the committee, and in House of Commons debates, without fear of criminal investigation or prosecution.


The question nobody asked Stephen J. Hadley

(US Deputy National Security Adviser), a lawyer, at the White House “Press Briefing by Dan Bartlett and Steve Hadley on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction and the State of the Union Speech,” July 22 2003 3:45-5:08 p.m. EDT:

Q  Mr Hadley, you said several times:

“The President’s guidance is,

I don’t want anything in the speech of an intelligence nature that George Tenet can’t stand behind.

That’s the test of the President.”

And, you said you have sole responsibility for all intelligence assertions in the speech:

“I am the senior most official within the NSC staff, directly responsible for the substantive review and clearance of presidential speeches. The President and the National Security Advisor look to me to ensure that the substantive statements in those speeches are the ones in which the President can have confidence.”

Yet, you did not ask George Tenet — did he stand behind the President’s speech (intelligence assertions) — as the President’s test required you to do (State of the Union, Jan. 28).

Did you decide to disobey the President’s standing orders because both you and the President already knew what George Tenet’s answer would be (uranium assertion)?

And did you arrange, instead, for Robert G. Joseph (NSC staff) to work with a complicit CIA official (Alan Foley, senior analyst) to approve the President’s speech behind George Tenet’s back?

And behind George Tenet’s back, to work with another complicit CIA official (Robert Walpole) to endorse the President’s Report to Congress (Jan. 20), your anonymous White House report (Jan. 23), the State Department’s anonymous report (Jan. 23) on your report, Condoleezza Rice’s article in the New York Times (Jan. 23), Paul Wolfowitz’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (Jan. 23), and Colin Powell’s speech in Davos Switzerland (Jan. 26)?

And behind George Tenet’s back, to stand-up your own article in the Chicago Tribune (Feb. 16), asserting what Colin Powell refused to vouch for at the UN (Feb. 5)?

And behind George Tenet’s back, to brief the Voice of America (Feb. 20), with the whole fictional tale?


A supposed DDCI CIA staff meeting, January 28 2003:

“ (a)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully –

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.”

18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)

“Well, Britain did say it, and we sometimes get our story out that way because, in the UK, it’s no crime to lie to Parliament or to brief lies into the mouths of unwary, or complicit, UK Ministers.

And as for us here, “knowingly and willfully” making use of “any ... document knowing the same to contain any materially false ... statement”: Well, it’s the President who’s saying it, not us.

And as for conspiracy to “conceal ... a material fact,” and thereby lie to the President, or enable him to lie to Congress and the Nation: Well, we told the responsible White House officials (Rice, Hadley, Joseph, Gerson), so if they want to keep him in the dark, that’s their business, and if the President wants to lie to Congress and the Nation, that’s his business.

So if we write a letter saying the President’s statement is factually correct, and address that letter to a person who knows the full truth, then if s/he decides to give that letter to the President and conceal from him the full truth, then s/he’s the one deceiving the President not us.

The President implies the British assertion is true (“has learned”), and he thereby induces two inflammatory inferences. One, we know is untrue: That Iraq could obtain uranium from Niger. France takes 100% of the uranium and controls the operation under close IAEA supervision. The other — that Iraq is actively seeking to reconstitute its nuclear program — is not substantiated by wishful suspicion:– that a visiting Iraqi diplomat, or Iraqis in other countries, might want to buy uranium. Iraqi officials know they cannot obtain uranium from Niger.

“ (3)  the term “misleading conduct” means – ...

(B)  intentionally omitting information from a statement and thereby causing a portion of such statement to be misleading, or intentionally concealing a material fact, and thereby creating a false impression by such statement ...”

18 U.S.C. § 1515(a)(3)(B)

As for omitting from our letter our opinion and our evidence that the British claim is untrue, we can say we did not “knowingly and willfully” conspire, or aid and abet anybody’s lie, by proving our addressee knew the full truth, and we thus had no need to repeat what we had previously said to that person. And if s/he claims s/he forgot what we had said, or supposed we had changed our minds, we can say we thought our position was well known and s/he would have asked, if s/he wanted an update on our analysis.

And we can claim we never felt prompted to state the whole truth in our letter, because we trusted our addressee, and the President’s staff, and never suspected any scheme to deceive the President, or any scheme by the President to lie to Congress and the Nation.

The public doesn’t know we investigated and disproved Britain’s claim. And they don’t know our opinion on the matter. Let’s keep it that way, like we always do, and leave the politicians scope to their thing.

The Director (George Tenet) may not be in a position, personally, to endorse the President’s speech for another reason:– Blowback. And keep this in mind when talking to the White House. I’m not saying this is what happened, but what if Mr. Tenet knows this assertion is based on forged documents and a covert operation to trick British Intelligence and Tony Blair into saying what they said? (“We know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa”). On these facts, if the Director’s in the loop to approve the President’s speech, then he’s staring at a long prison sentence, even if the President already knows about the scam, because the President is addressing Congress and the Nation, and they don’t know about it.”


The claims

August 26 2002:
Dick Cheney (US Vice-President), Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention, Nashville Tennessee, August 26 2002:

“But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. ... Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.

The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago.”

September 8 2002:
Condoleezza Rice (US National Security Adviser), “Interview with Condoleezza Rice,” CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Washington D.C., Sept. 8 2002 12:00 p.m. EDT:

Blitzer:  Based on what you know right now, how close is Saddam Hussein’s government — how close is that government to developing a nuclear capability?

“ INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges ...”

NIE, Oct. 1 2002

Rice:  You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance — into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to — high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. ...

The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t what {sic: want} the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

US officials had planted this topic in the press on this Sunday morning: Michael R. Gordon, Judith Miller, “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts,” New York Times, Sept. 8 2002.

“ 1) Size: the tubes were too long to be centrifuge rotors, but too short if cut in half. They were just exactly the right length to be 81 mm rockets based on an Italian design. The walls of a centrifuge rotor are typically 1 mm thick; these tubes were much thicker.

2) Metal: some alloys of aluminum have the strength and corrosion resistant qualities to be used in centrifuges with the enormously corrosive gas, uranium hexafluoride — but most Al alloys don’t. Some alloys are strong enough to be whirled around at 100,000 rpm and have only a 1 millimeter wall thickness. Others rip apart.

3) Coatings: some tubes have coatings on them that make them difficult to use in a centrifuge for technical reasons. You could scrape the coatings off, but then Iraq would have spent money on something that it would quickly destroy.”

Peter Zimmerman (Physicist, chief scientist, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, science adviser for Arms Control, State Department, Clinton administration), Washington Post, online forum, Aug. 14 2003

September 12 2002:
George W. Bush (US President), “President’s Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly,” New York City, Sept. 12 2002 10:39-11:04 a.m.; U.N. Doc. A/57/PV.2 (267kb.pdf), pp.5-9; 38/37 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents pp.1529-1533 (19kb.txt, 48kb.pdf):

“Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program — weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq’s state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.”

“ 4. By the time the inspectors were withdrawn {Dec. 16 1998}, the IAEA ... had destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all of the physical capabilities of Iraq to produce amounts of nuclear-weapons-usable nuclear material of any practical significance. ...

b. All nuclear material of significance to Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was verified and fully accounted for, and all nuclear-weapons-usable nuclear material (plutonium and high enriched uranium) was removed from Iraq. ...

5. As of December 1998, there were no key outstanding disarmament issues in the nuclear area ...

6. In the four years following the withdrawal of IAEA inspectors, the IAEA’s activities in Iraq were limited to annual verification, pursuant to the Safeguards Agreement, of the nuclear material (several tons of yellow cake and other natural uranium and some low enriched and depleted uranium) that remained in Iraq under IAEA seal.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, U.N., Jan. 20 2003

September 12 2002:
White House (authorship/responsibility unknown, US President’s staff), “A Decade of Deception and Defiance: Saddam Hussein’s Defiance of the United Nations” (64kb.pdf), Sept. 12 2002 (emphasis in original):

A Decade of Deception and Defiance serves as a background paper for President George W. Bush’s September 12th speech to the United Nations General Assembly. ...

A new report (5590kb.pdf) released on September 9, 2002 from the International Institute for Strategic Studies — an independent research organization — concludes that Saddam Hussein could build a nuclear bomb within months if he were able to obtain fissile material.

Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.”

“ The CIA were consulted throughout the drafting process and were passed a draft {2318kb.pdf} of the WMD section on 11 September.”

UK FCO, July 29 2003

September 24 2002:
British Government, authorship and responsibility claimed (Hutton Inquiry, Transcript, August 26 2003, p.29 et seq.) by John McLeod Scarlett (Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee, and Head, Intelligence and Securities Secretariat, UK Cabinet Office), incorporating changes desired by Alastair Campbell (Director of Communications and Strategy for Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister), and representing it to be the unanimous consensual product of the Cabinet Office Joint Intelligence Committee (GCHQ, MI5, MI6, DIS, and “senior policy makers” (politicians?) from the MoD, FCO, HO, DTI, Treasury) which, however, apparently did not meet to debate it and did not approve it, Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government (439kb.pdf, 429kb.pdf, 429kb.pdf), No. 10 Downing Street, London England, Sept. 24 2002 8:00 a.m. BST.

“ The more we advertise that unsupported assertions (eg Saddam attaches great importance to the possession of WMD) come from intelligence the better.”

Philip Bassett to Alastair Campbell, et al.,
“Re Draft Dossier (J Scarlett Version of 10 Sept)”,
email, Sept. 11 2002 3:27 p.m. (83kb.pdf)

“ The facts remain thin on nuclear.”

Daniel Pruce to Alastair Campbell, et al.,
“Dossier–16 September draft”,
email, Sept. 17 2002 12:01 p.m. (19kb.pdf)

September 24 2002:
Tony Blair (U.K. Prime Minister), “Prime Minister’s Iraq statement to Parliament,” 390 Hansard, 6th Series, columns 1-156, at 3-4 (House of Commons, London England, Debate: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Sept. 24 2002 11:30 a.m. – 10:14 p.m. BST):

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair):  Mr. Speaker, thank you for recalling Parliament to debate the best way to deal with the issue of the present leadership of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.

Today we published a 50-page dossier, detailing the history of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programme, its breach of United Nations resolutions, and its attempts to rebuild that illegal programme. I have placed a copy in the Library. ...

“ We have not seen intelligence which we believe “shows” that Iraq has continued to produce CW agent in 1998-2002, although our judgment is that it has probably done so. Whilst we are even more convinced that Iraq has continued to produce biological weapons agent (on the basis of mobile production intelligence) we would not go so far as to say we “know” this to be the case.”

Brian Francis Gill Jones, “probably the most senior and experienced intelligence community official working on ‘WMD’” (Head, Scientific and Technical Directorate, Defence Intelligence Analysis Staff, Defence Intelligence Staff, UK Ministry of Defence) to Tony Cragg (Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence), et al., letter dated Sept. 19 2002, p.1 (57kb.pdf).

There is one common, consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain that programme. ... His weapons of mass destruction programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down; it is up and running now.

The dossier is based on the work of the British Joint Intelligence Committee. For over 60 years, beginning just before world war two, the JIC has provided intelligence assessments to British Prime Ministers. Normally, its work is obviously secret. Unusually, because it is important that we explain our concerns about Saddam to the British people, we have decided to disclose its assessments.

I am aware, of course, that people will have to take elements of this on the good faith of our intelligence services, but this is what they are telling me, the British Prime Minister, and my senior colleagues. The intelligence picture that they paint is one accumulated over the last four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative. It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability. ...

“ Baghdad could make enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by 2005 to 2007 if it obtains suitable centrifuge tubes this year and has all the other materials and technological expertise necessary to build production-scale uranium enrichment facilities.”

NIE, Oct. 1 2002

As for nuclear weapons, Saddam’s previous nuclear weapons programme was shut down by the inspectors, following disclosure by defectors of the full, but hidden, nature of it. That programme was based on gas centrifuge uranium enrichment. The known remaining stocks of uranium are now held under supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But we now know the following: since the departure of the inspectors in 1998, Saddam has bought or attempted to buy specialised vacuum “ ... a planned magnet-production line whose suitability for centrifuge operations remains unknown.”NIE, Oct. 1 2002 pumps of the design needed for the gas centrifuge cascade to enrich uranium; an entire magnet production line of the specification for use in the motors and top bearings of gas centrifuges; dual-use products, such as anhydrous hydrogen fluoride and fluoride gas, which can be used both in “ ... the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts ...” NIE, Oct. 1 2002 petrochemicals but also in gas centrifuge cascades; a filament winding machine, which can be used to manufacture carbon fibre gas centrifuge rotors; and he has attempted, covertly, to acquire 60,000 or more specialised aluminium tubes, which are subject to strict controls owing to their potential use in the construction of gas centrifuges.

“ In particular you should note that we have toned down the reference to aluminium tubes in paragraph 22 on page 28, and removed it from the Executive Summary. This reflects some very recent exchanges on intelligence channels.”

John Scarlett, Sept. 19 2002, Memorandum to Alastair Campbell, et al., “Iraqi WMD: Public Presentation of Intelligence Material” (34kb.pdf)

“ Just before the dossier was finalised, the CIA offered a comment noting that they did not regard the reference to the supply of uranium from Africa as credible. But the CIA provided no explanation for their concerns.”

UK FCO, July 29 2003

In addition, we know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa, although we do not know whether he has been successful. Again, key personnel who used to work on the nuclear weapons programme are back in harness. Iraq may claim that that is for a civil nuclear power programme, but I would point out that it has no nuclear power plants.”

By his “we know,” Blair converts into unassailable fact what he conceals, namely: mere unsubstantiated supposition (the facts disclosed so far). This is a prima facie criminal lie under U.S. law, unless the “interpretation” (opinion) of any undisclosed facts is objectively certain beyond reasonable doubt (unlikely). In secret, this supposed fact was nothing more than a supposed opinion, the basis of which is yet concealed, and a reluctant opinion (“brokered with some difficulty”), unconvinced and thus unconvincing. CJHjr:

“ Iraq’s existing holdings of processed uranium are under IAEA supervision. But there is compelling evidence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

UK draft Dossier, Sept. 11 2002 (2318kb.pdf)

“ On the uranium from Africa, the agreed interpretation of the intelligence (brokered with some difficulty with the originators and owners of the reporting) allows us only to say that he has “sought” uranium from Africa.”

John Scarlett to Alastair Campbell, et al., Memorandum, Sept. 17 2002, “Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction” (68kb.pdf)

“ I think — I mean, it is very, very difficult to interpret the views of people who feel they are under pressure and being pressed and worked very hard.”

Brian Francis Gill Jones to the Hutton Inquiry, Testimony,
Sept. 17 2002, Transcript, p.30, lines-23 et seq.

September 24 2002:
George W. Bush (US President), “President Urges Congress to Pass Iraq Resolution Promptly: Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with the Cabinet the Cabinet Room” White House, Sept. 24 2002 11:00-11:09 a.m. EDT; 38/39 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents pp.1610-1612 (11kb.txt, 35kb.pdf) (from the Weekly Compliation):

The President. ... I’ll answer a couple of questions, starting with Fournier [Ron Fournier] of the AP.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Can I have your reaction to two recent assessments on the situation in Iraq? First, Tony Blair said today that Saddam has tried to acquire significant quantities of uranium and can quickly deploy chemical and biological weapons. But there seems to be little new information in the dossier. Secondly, former Vice President Al Gore —

The President. That might explain why.

Q. Pardon me, sir?

The President. Explain why he didn’t put new information—to protect sources.”

September 24 2002:
Ari Fleischer (US President’s Press Secretary), Press Briefing, White House, Washington D.C., Sept. 24 2002 12:20 p.m. EDT:

Q  Ari, some members of Tony Blair’s own party — say there’s nothing new in the dossier Blair delivered to his Parliament. Is there a smoking gun?

Mr. Fleischer: Well, I think there was new information in there, particularly about the 45-minute threshold by which Saddam Hussein has got his biological and chemical weapons triggered to be launched. There was new information in there about Saddam Hussein’s efforts to obtain uranium from African nations. That was new information.”

September 26 2002:
George W. Bush (US President), “President Bush Discusses Iraq with Congressional Leaders: Remarks by the President on Iraq, The Rose Garden,” White House, Sept. 26 2002 10:46-10:51 a.m. EDT; 38/39 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents pp.1625-1626 (4kb.txt, 34kb.pdf):

The President: ... The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order were given.

The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. And there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year.”

October 1 2002:
Six agencies of the US Intelligence Community (15 agencies), National Intelligence Estimate: “Iraq’s Continuing Programs For Weapons of Mass Destruction” (October 1 2002, 90 pages), secret, authorship/responsibility unknown, quoted by Henry A. Waxman (Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, US Congress) to Condoleezza Rice (Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs), letter dated July 29 2003:

“The NIE was delivered to Congress on October 1, 2002, about a week before Congress voted on the resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq. The classified document included the following statement under the heading “uranium acquisition”:

“Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake.””

“ An unclassified CIA White Paper in October made no mention of the issue ... because we had questions about some of the reporting.”

George J. Tenet DCI,
, July 11 2003

October 4 2002:
Central Intelligence Agency, “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs(1170kb.html, 2327kb.pdf), October 4 2003:

If Baghdad acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year.

  Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until the last half of the decade.”

“ It is unclear how the CIA could be so certain about the uranium claim on October 1 when it delivered the NIE, and yet argue so strenuously against using it just three days later in the White Paper.”

Henry A. Waxman to Condoleezza Rice, July 29 2003

October 7 2002:
George W. Bush (US President), “President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat,” Address to the Nation, Cincinnati Ohio, Oct. 7 2002 8:02-8:31 p.m., 38/41 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents pp.1716-1720 (22kb.txt, 43kb.pdf):

“ Although we have no problem with a judgment based on intelligence that Saddam attaches great importance to possessing WMD we have not seen the intelligence that ‘shows’ this to be the case.”

Jones (MoD), Sept. 19 2002

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq’s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith. ...

And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world. ...

“It is seeking nuclear weapons. ... We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons.

“ George Tenet ... asked that any reference to Iraq’s attempt to purchase uranium from sources from Africa to be deleted from the speech.”

Special Press Briefing, July 22 2003

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen,” his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. ...

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

October 10-11 2002:
U.S. Congress “To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq,” H.J. Res. 114; House debate, 148 Congressional Record, October 8 2002: H7178-H7186 (78kb.txt, 97kb.pdf), H7189-H7247 (579kb.txt, 411kb.pdf), H7268-H7301 (345kb.txt, 266kb.pdf), October 9 2002: H7309-H7345 (349kb.txt, 267kb.pdf), H7375-H7410 (385kb.txt, 000kb.pdf), H7413-H7442 (301kb.txt, 244kb.pdf), H7706-H7735 (319kb.txt, 240kb.pdf), October 10 2002: H7739-H7799 (657kb.txt, 478kb.pdf) (U.S. Congress 107-2, House, Oct. 8-10 2002), House vote: Oct. 10 2002 3:05 p.m.; Senate debate, 148 Congressional Record, October 4 2002: S9933-S9975 (405kb.txt, 324kb.pdf), October 7 2002: S10006-S10031 (250kb.txt, 207kb.pdf), October 8 2002: S10063-S10077 (146kb.txt, 128kb.pdf), S10077-S10108 (312kb.txt, 242kb.pdf), October 9 2002: S10145-S10162 (168kb.txt, 150kb.pdf), S10164-S10217 (512kb.txt, 376kb.pdf), October 10-11 2002: S10233-S10283 (502kb.txt, 378kb.pdf), S10284-S10334 (515kb.txt, 353kb.pdf), S10335-S10342 (76kb.txt, 83kb.pdf) (U.S. Congress 107-2, Senate, Oct. 7-11 2002), Senate vote: Oct. 11 2002 12:50 a.m.; George W. BushPresident Signs Iraq Resolution,” Washington D.C., Oct. 16 2002 11:17-11:30 a.m., 38/42 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, pp.1777-1779 (10kb.txt, 44kb.pdf), “Statement by the President,” ibid, p.1779 (4kb.txt, 37kb.pdf); Public Law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1498 (15kb.txt, 36kb.pdf) (Oct. 16 2002).

December 19 2002:
US State Department, Fact Sheet, “Illustrative Examples of Omissions from the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council,” Dec. 19 2002 (U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman), discussed, Richard Boucher, Spokesman, Daily Press Briefing, July 14 2003 (U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman):

“ Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR’s assessment, highly dubious.”

DoS, NIE, Oct. 1 2002

“Illustrative Examples of Omissions from the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council ...

Nuclear Weapons

  The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

  Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?”

The Declaration ignores Iraq’s nuclear submarines. Why?


January 9 2003:
Ari Fleischer (US President’s Press Secretary), Press Briefing, White House, Washington D.C., Jan. 9 2003 1:07 p.m. EST:

Q  The head of the IAEA said today that the suspect aluminum tubes Iraq has obtained were not used for — or not suitable for enriching uranium. Do you still maintain that Iraq has an active nuclear weapons program?

Mr. Fleischer: Well, let’s be clear on what he said. What Mr. ElBaradei has said is,

“While the matter is still under investigation and further verification is foreseen” — so it’s not a closed matter — “the IAEA’s analysis of data indicates that the specifications of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq in 2001 and 2002 appear to be consistent with the reverse engineering of rockets. While it would be possible to modify such tubes for the manufacture of centrifuges, they are not directly suitable for it. It should be noted, however, that the attempted acquisition of such tubes is prohibited under” the United Nations resolutions in any case.

So it remains a cause for concern that they are pursuing acquisition of elements that are banned to them, that have purposes that still can be used for military purposes. And we do have concerns about their potential of developing nuclear programs. As you know, we have always been explicit on this topic. We have always said that we know that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction of a biological nature. We know they have weapons of mass destruction of a chemical nature. We have not said that conclusively about nuclear. We have concerns that they are seeking to acquire and develop them, of course.”

“ The administration was determined to keep the idea before the public as it built its case for war.”

Walter Pincus, Washington Post, Aug. 8 2003

January 20 2003:
George W. Bush (US President), Report to Congress on Matters Relevant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (U.S. Congress 108-1, H. Doc. No. 108-23 (31kb.txt, 54kb.pdf), Jan. 20 2003), transmitted by “Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate,” 39/4 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents p.91 (2kb.txt, 34kb.pdf):

“The report also failed to deal with issues which have arisen since 1998, including: ... attempts to acquire uranium and the means to enrich it.”

January 23 2003:
White House (authorship/responsibility unknown), “What Does Disarmament Look Like?,” Jan. 23 2003:

“Instead of cooperation and transparency Iraq has chosen to conceal and to lie.

  Iraq’s declaration is not “currently accurate, full, and complete.” It is inaccurate and incomplete. ...

  Nuclear Weapons

  The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from abroad.”

January 23 2003:
Department of State (authorship/responsibility unknown), “White House Report Details Iraq’s Efforts to Block U.N. Inspections,” Jan. 23 2003:

“The report said Iraq has failed to explain or account for: ...

  efforts to procure uranium from abroad for its nuclear weapons program”

January 23 2003:
Condoleezza Rice (US National Security Adviser), “Why We Know Iraq is Lying,” New York Times, Jan. 23 2003:

“Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie. For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad ...”

January 23 2003:
Paul Wolfowitz (US Deputy Secretary of Defense), “Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Speech on Iraq Disarmament” (as delivered), Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, Washington D.C., Jan. 23 2003 1:02 p.m. EST (prepared speech, prior to delivery):

“Indeed, with its December 7th declaration, Iraq resumed a familiar process of deception. ... There is no mention of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad.”

January 26 2003:
Colin Powell (US Secretary of State), “Remarks at the World Economic Forum,” Davos Switzerland, Jan. 26 2003:

“Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?”

January 28 2003:
George W. Bush (US President), State of the Union Address, Washington D.C., Jan. 28 2003 9:01-10:08 p.m. (“Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union”), 149 Congressional Record H212-H215 (34kb.html, 34kb.txt, 60kb.pdf), at H215 (U.S. Congress 108-1, House of Representatives, Jan. 28 2003), 39/5 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents pp.109-116 (34kb.txt, 50kb.pdf):

“ The intercepted tubes were too narrow, long and thick-walled to fit a known centrifuge design. Aluminum had not been used for rotors since the 1950s.”

Barton Gellman, Walter Pincus, Washington Post, Aug. 10 2003

“The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein 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. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.”

January 29 2003:
Donald H. Rumsfeld (US Secretary of Defense), “DoD News Briefing,” Pentagon, Washington D.C., Jan. 29 2003 2:18 p.m. EST:

“Good afternoon. In the State of the Union remarks last evening, the President made clear that Saddam Hussein poses a “serious,” to quote him, “and mounting threat to our country, [and] our friends and our allies” that cannot be ignored. As the President pointed out, the Iraqi regime ... has the design for a nuclear weapon; it was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa. The regime plays host to terrorists, including al Qaeda, as the President indicated.”

January 30 2003:
Ari Fleischer (US President’s Press Secretary), Press Briefing, White House, Washington D.C., Jan. 30 2003 2:04 p.m. EST:

“ Iraqi authorities have indicated that their unsuccessful attempts to procure the aluminium tubes related to a programme to reverse engineer conventional rockets. To verify this information, IAEA inspectors have inspected the relevant rocket production and storage sites, taken tube samples, interviewed relevant Iraqi personnel, and reviewed procurement contracts and related documents. From our analysis to date it appears that the aluminium tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges.”

Mohamed ElBaradei,
U.N., Jan. 27 2003

Q  Ari, the President mentioned something that was mentioned earlier, the aluminum tubes as part of the list of evidence that the U.S. thinks that Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction. But the IAEA and other world officials — Mohammed ElBaradei, actually, specifically said {Jan. 20, Jan. 27} that it’s just not there, that is not what that it’s intended to be used for in Iraq, that it’s really just conventional. Isn’t there a concern that when the President and the White House make statements like that it’s going to undermine your overall argument of this Mt. Everest of evidence that you say exists?

Mr. Fleischer: No. And I’ll give you three reasons why, in the President’s judgment. Number one, Mohammed ElBaradei and the IAEA said that the importations of these tubes is illegal and violates the policies that Iraq committed itself to, regardless of what the IAEA has so far judged them to be. They said Iraq’s actions in importing them are, in and of themselves, a violation. That should be a cause for concern, number one, about whether Iraq is disarming.

“ INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets.”

NIE, Oct. 1 2002

Number two, on the tubes, the IAEA has said that their investigation remains open. They have not reached final conclusions about this. On that point, therefore, to point three, there are continuing discussions with the IAEA in which information is being shared about this information. The preponderance of evidence is that Iraq attempted to procure high-strength aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment. We stand by that statement.

“ ... 81-millimetre rockets, the combustion chambers of which were made of high-strength aluminium, ... consumed during the conflict between Iraq and Iran.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, U.N., Jan. 20 2003

Our technical analysis at the extremely tight manufacturing tolerances and high-strength materials indicates the tubes far exceed any specifications required for non-nuclear capabilities. Iraq attempted to procure the tubes covertly. The cost of the tubes is far greater than what one would pay for if the tubes were just to be used for artillery. Iraq has devoted substantial efforts to concealing its nuclear program in the past. It’s not surprising that it would attempt to mislead the inspectors on this issue and the inspectors have left it open because they want to continue to hear from us and to work on this before final conclusions are reached. The President stands by every word he said.

Q  Is this intelligence that’s already been shared with him?

Mr. Fleischer: It’s an ongoing process.”

“ For rockets, however, the tubes fit perfectly. According to knowledgeable U.S. and overseas sources, experts from U.S. national laboratories reported in December to the Energy Department and U.S. intelligence analysts that Iraq was manufacturing copies of the Italian-made Medusa 81. Not only the Medusa’s alloy, but also its dimensions, to the fraction of a millimeter, matched the disputed aluminum tubes.”

Barton Gellman, Walter Pincus,
Washington Post, Aug. 10 2003

February 5 2003:
Colin Powell (US Secretary of State), “Remarks to The United Nations Security Council,” New York City, Feb. 5 2003:

“Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb.

“ ... the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts ...”

NIE, Oct. 1 2002

He is so determined that has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed. These tubes are controlled by the Nuclear Suppliers Group precisely because they can be used as centrifuges for enriching uranium.

By now, just about everyone has heard of these tubes and we all know that there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts, and the Iraqis themselves, argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher.

“ I don’t see how you do it. I do not know any real centrifuge experts that feel differently.”

Houston G. Wood III (founder, Oak Ridge centrifuge physics department), Washington Post, Aug. 10 2003

Let me tell you what is not controversial about these tubes. First, all the experts who have analyzed the tubes in our possession agree that they can be adapted for centrifuge use. ...

The high-tolerance aluminum tubes are only part of the story. We also have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines. Both items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium. ...

People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind. These illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material.”

“ Experts from U.S. national labs, working temporarily with U.N. inspectors in Iraq, observed production lines for the rockets at the Nasser factory north of Baghdad. Iraq had run out of body casings at about the time it ordered the aluminum tubes, according to officials familiar with the experts’ reports. Thousands of warheads, motors and fins were crated at the assembly lines, awaiting the arrival of tubes.”

Barton Gellman, Walter Pincus,
Washington Post, Aug. 10 2003

February 13 2003:
Colin Powell (US Secretary of State), “Videotaped Remarks on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Washington D.C., Feb. 13 2003:

“I want to share with you some of the most important points on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that I presented to the United Nations Security Council on February 5. ...

Iraq ordered aluminum tubes from 11 countries with specifications much higher than that needed for rockets. Through front companies, Saddam also ordered magnets, balancing machines and other equipment, along with the tubes. All of this is used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

February 16 2003:
Stephen J. Hadley (US Deputy National Security Adviser), “Two Potent Iraqi Weapons: Denial and Deception,” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 16 2003:

“With its trained nuclear scientists and a weapons design, all Saddam Hussein lacks is the necessary plutonium or enriched uranium. Iraq has an active procurement program. According to British intelligence, the regime has tried to acquire natural uranium from abroad. It is also trying to import and develop specialized magnets, high-speed balancing machines and other hardware needed to build the centrifuges that can produce enriched uranium. Through front companies, Iraq has tried recently to import high-strength aluminum tubes with tolerances suitable for centrifuges — and that far exceed the requirements for conventional weapons.”

February 20 2003:
U.S. Officials (anonymous), briefing Alex Belida, VoA Pentagon correspondent, “US Officials: Niger Signed Secret Deal to Resume Uranium Ore Shipments to Iraq,” Voice of America, Feb. 20 2003, 20:26 UTC (3:26 p.m. EST):

“U.S. and U.N. officials say the African country of Niger supplied Iraq with a key ingredient for its nuclear program two decades ago and recently agreed secretly to resume those shipments.

Last year, the British government released a dossier linking the African continent to Iraq’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. It accused Baghdad of trying to obtain what were termed “significant quantities of uranium from Africa” for its covert nuclear weapons program.

The British document did not identify any African countries. But in December, the U.S. State Department issued a fact sheet of its own, outlining critical omissions in Iraq’s latest declaration to the United Nations on its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

That fact sheet singled out Niger as a country where Baghdad had tried to procure uranium. ...

... Iraq received two large shipments from Niger of “yellowcake,” a term describing a colorful, concentrated form of uranium ore used in nuclear programs, either for fuel or weapons. One shipment, received in February 1981, consisted of nearly 140 metric tons of “yellowcake.” The second shipment, received in March of 1982, consisted of a nearly identical amount. ...

Uranium Claim Was Known for Months to Be Weak

Washington Post July 20 2003

Independently, U.S. officials tell VOA, Iraq and Niger signed an agreement in the summer of 2000 to resume shipments for an additional 500 tons of “yellowcake.”

However these officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they have never seen any evidence that the transaction was completed.

Niger is a poor, land-locked sub-Saharan country, but it is the world’s third-largest uranium producer, after Canada and Australia. Its main uranium mining areas are operated by a French company called Cogema.

U.S. officials say they believe the French operator has good production controls and doubt any uranium materials have disappeared.

You mean officials in the Niger embassy in Rome can be bribed to facilitate a CIA burglary: seeking sample documents, signatures, letterheads, and seals, and a plausible source for the to be forged ‘documents’? Jul. 20


But one senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says it is possible that someone involved in the mining operation in Niger, possibly corrupt government officials, may have been trying to make some money “on the side” or outside normal business transactions.”

March 16 2003:
Dick Cheney (US Vice-President), Meet the Press, Transcript, March 16 2003 (NBC News):

Vice Pres. Cheney: ... We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons ...

Mr. Russert: What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq?

Vice Pres. Cheney: Well, I think I’ve just given it, Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Russert: And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?

Vice Pres. Cheney: I disagree, yes. And you’ll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let’s talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We’ve got, again, a long record here. It’s not as though this is a fresh issue. In the late ’70s, Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear reactors from the French. 1981, the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor and stopped his nuclear weapons development at the time. Throughout the ’80s, he mounted a new effort. I was told when I was defense secretary before the Gulf War that he was eight to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon. And we found out after the Gulf War that he was within one or two years of having a nuclear weapon because he had a massive effort under way that involved four or five different technologies for enriching uranium to produce fissile material.

“ Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any ...”

NIE, Oct. 1 2002

We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq’s concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don’t have any reason to believe they’re any more valid this time than they’ve been in the past.”

“ 4. h. There were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically coherent picture which had evolved of Iraq’s past programme and the information contained in the “Full, Final and Complete Declaration” (FFCD) submitted by Iraq to the IAEA, pursuant to resolution 707 (1991), in 1996, and supplemented in 1998.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, U.N., Jan. 20 2003


The facts known at the time of the claims

February 2002:
Joseph C. Wilson 4thWhat I Didn’t Find in Africa” (New York Times, July 6 2003):

“In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990’s. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office. ...

The next morning, I met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick at the embassy. For reasons that are understandable, the embassy staff has always kept a close eye on Niger’s uranium business. I was not surprised, then, when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington. Nevertheless, she and I agreed that my time would be best spent interviewing people who had been in government when the deal supposedly took place, which was before her arrival.

I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country’s uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger’s uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there’s simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired. ...

Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. I also shared my conclusions with members of her staff. In early March, I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the C.I.A. I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Affairs Bureau. There was nothing secret or earth-shattering in my report, just as there was nothing secret about my trip.”

See also, Richard Leiby, Walter Pincus, “Ex-Envoy: Nuclear Report Ignored; Iraqi Purchases Were Doubted by CIA” (Washington Post, July 6 2003); and Transcript, Meet the Press, July 6 2003 (NBC News), Guests: Joseph Wilson et al; and Matthew Cooper, Massimo Calabresi, John F. Dickerson “A War on Wilson?: Inside the Bush Administration’s feud with the diplomat who poured cold water on the Iraq-uranium connection” (Time, July 17 2003); and Transcript, Meet the Press, Oct. 5 2003 (NBC News), Guests: Joseph Wilson et al; and Transcript, Face the Nation, Oct. 5 2003 (CBS News), Guests: Joseph Wilson et al.

February 2002:
Statement By George J. Tenet Director Of Central Intelligence” (CIA, July 11 2003):

“These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.

For perspective, a little history is in order.

There was fragmentary intelligence gathered in late 2001 and early 2002 on the allegations of Saddam’s efforts to obtain additional raw uranium from Africa, beyond the 550 metric tons already in Iraq. In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger, CIA’s counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn.

“ The meeting never took place. An intermediary came to this official, and said, “I want you to meet with these guys. They’re interested in talking about expanding commercial relations.” The person who talked to me said, “Red flags went up immediately, I thought of U.N. Security Council sanctions, I thought of all sorts of other reasons why we didn’t want to have any meeting. I declined the meeting,” and this was out of the country, on the margins of an OIC meeting. So it was a meeting that did not take place. And at one point during the conversation, this official kind of looked up in the sky and plumbing his conscience, looked back and said, “You know, maybe they might have wanted to talk about uranium.” So it was a non-meeting about a non-subject that didn’t occur and, maybe, in the voice of one person, it might have wanted to talk about uranium.”

Joseph Wilson, Meet the Press, Oct. 5 2003

He reported back to us that one of the former Nigerien officials he met stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office. The same former official also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales. The former officials also offered details regarding Niger’s processes for monitoring and transporting uranium that suggested it would be very unlikely that material could be illicitly diverted. There was no mention in the report of forged documents — or any suggestion of the existence of documents at all.

Because this report, in our view, did not resolve whether Iraq was or was not seeking uranium from abroad, it was given a normal and wide distribution, but we did not brief it to the President, Vice-President or other senior Administration officials. We also had to consider that the former Nigerien officials knew that what they were saying would reach the U.S. government and that this might have influenced what they said.

In the fall of 2002, my Deputy and I briefed hundreds of members of Congress on Iraq. We did not brief the uranium acquisition story.

Also in the fall of 2002, our British colleagues told us they were planning to publish an unclassified dossier that mentioned reports of Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium in Africa. Because we viewed the reporting on such acquisition attempts to be inconclusive, we expressed reservations about its inclusion but our colleagues said they were confident in their reports and left it in their document.

In September and October 2002 before Senate Committees, senior intelligence officials in response to questions told members of Congress that we differed with the British dossier on the reliability of the uranium reporting.

{The transcript being secret, we don’t know how convincingly they expressed themselves and, with no video, with what winks and nudges. None of the members of the House (435 members), and few members of the Senate (100 members), are privy to secret Senate Committee hearings.  CJHjr }

In October {1st}, the Intelligence Community (IC) produced a classified, 90 page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s WMD programs....

But in the interest of completeness, the report contained three paragraphs that ... cited reports that Iraq began “vigorously trying to procure” more uranium from Niger and two other African countries, which would shorten the time Baghdad needed to produce nuclear weapons. ...

An unclassified CIA White Paper in October {4th} made no mention of the issue, again because it was not fundamental to the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, and because we had questions about some of the reporting.”

February 24 2002:
Dana Priest, Dana Milbank “President Defends Allegation On Iraq: Bush Says CIA’s Doubts Followed Jan. 28 Address” (Washington Post, July 15 2003, page A1):

“A four-star general, who was asked to go to Niger last year to inquire about the security of Niger’s uranium, told The Washington Post yesterday that he came away convinced the country’s stocks were secure. The findings of Marine Gen. Carlton W. Fulford Jr. were passed up to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — though it was unclear whether they reached officials in the White House. ...

Fulford was asked by the U.S. ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, to join her at the meeting with Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja on Feb. 24, 2002. “I was asked to impress upon the president the importance that the yellowcake in Niger be under control,” Fulford said. “I did that. He assured me. He said the mining operations were handled through a French consortium” and therefore out of the Niger government’s control. Owens-Kirkpatrick, reached by phone, declined to comment.”

October 1 2002:
Six agencies of the US Intelligence Community (15 agencies), “National Intelligence Estimate: Iraq’s Continuing Programs For Weapons of Mass Destruction” (October 1 2002, 90 pages), secret, authorship/responsibility unknown, excerpts released July 18 2003 in an off-the-record White House press briefing by a “senior administration official” who subsequently identified himself on-the-record (July 22) as Dan Bartlett, White House Director of Communications:

“Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction

“ What is the basis of an intelligence report? ... They do them on things when we’re not sure. You don’t need a National Intelligence Estimate, for instance, on whether the Soviet Union is collapsed. We know it collapsed. But they would do National Intelligence Estimates on things like, well, what is the threat that Iraq poses? Weapons of mass destruction? And so it clearly says it’s an estimate. They make judgments. ... And it’s inevitable one’s going to be wrong. ”

Bob Woodward, Larry King Live, July 10 2003

Key Judgments ...

  Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors departed—December 1998.

How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

  If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.

  Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.

* * *

  Baghdad’s UAVs could threaten Iraq’s neighbors, US forces in the Persian Gulf, and if brought close to, or into, the United States, the US Homeland. ...

The Director, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, US Air Force, does not agree that Iraq is developing UAVs primarily intended to be delivery platforms for chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. The small size of Iraq’s new UAV strongly suggests a primary role of reconnaissance, although CBW delivery is an inherent capability.

* * *

State/INR Alternative View of Iraq’s Nuclear Program

The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapon-related capabilities. The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result, INR is unable to predict when Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.

In INR’s view Iraq’s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq’s nuclear weapon program.

Annex A

Iraq’s Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes

(This excerpt from a longer view includes INR’s position on the African uranium issue)

INR’s Alternative View:
Iraq’s Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes

Some of the specialized but dual-use items being sought are, by all indications, bound for Iraq’s missile program. Other cases are ambiguous, such as that of a planned magnet-production line whose suitability for centrifuge operations remains unknown. Some efforts involve non-controlled industrial material and equipment—including a variety of machine tools—and are troubling because they would help establish the infrastructure for a renewed nuclear program. But such efforts (which began well before the inspectors departed) are not clearly linked to a nuclear end-use. Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR’s assessment, highly dubious.”

October 5-7 2002:
Stephen J. Hadley (Deputy National Security Adviser), “Press Briefing by Dan Bartlett and Steve Hadley on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction and the State of the Union Speech,” July 22 2003 3:45-5:08 p.m. EDT. This follows an off-the-record press briefing, four days earlier, on July 18 2003:

Mr. Bartlett {White House Director of Communications}: ... Steve Hadley is the most — as Deputy National Security Advisor, is the most senior person in the White House that is in charge of vetting for substantive purposes the President’s State of the Union address and other key speeches when it pertains to national security. And I’d like for him to go ahead and make some comments about that now.

Mr. Hadley:  ... As we’ve already disclosed publicly, George Tenet had a brief telephone conversation with me during the clearance process for the October 7 Cincinnati speech. This was the one — he asked that any reference to Iraq’s attempt to purchase uranium from sources from Africa to be deleted from the speech. The language he was referring to when he made that call was language that said the following — and I’ll just quote it —

“And the regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa, and a central ingredient in the enrichment process.”

Based on DCI Tenet’s request, the sentence was deleted from the Cincinnati speech, when he said he did not want the President to be a fact witness for that statement. To my best recollection, we did not have any discussion about the UK or UK sources or anything else at that time.

Yesterday morning —

Q  What day was that?

Mr. Hadley:  It’s not clear. There are several phone calls. George and I both remember only one on the subject, and it’s either October 5 or 6 or 7. And the records are not such that I can locate exactly which —

Yesterday morning I learned of the memorandum that is dated October 5, 2002. Dan said it was from DCI — I think, more accurately, as these things come over — it comes over with a cover sheet from CIA. It is addressed to Mike Gerson and to myself. The memo is about three and a half pages, single-spaced. It has a variety of suggestions and comments on a variety of different provisions in the Cincinnati speech.

On page three of that memorandum, there’s a reference to a sentence that appears in draft six of the Cincinnati speech. And that sentence read as follows: “And the regime” — and here they’re talking about the Iraqi regime —

“And the regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from sources in Africa, and the central ingredient for the enrichment process.”

Now, with respect to that sentence, the October 5 CIA memorandum asked that we remove the sentence because the amount, 500 tons, is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source.

Q  Is that a direct quote from the —

Mr. Hadley:  I am not giving a direct quote. I’m giving you a summary of what it says. I’m giving a summary of what it says.

Q  — that’s not his exact quote.

Mr. Hadley:  Very close.

Q  — uranium oxide can be acquired from the source.

Mr. Hadley:  I can’t tell you. It’s a three-line phrase, in about a four or five-line paragraph, in a three and a half page, single-spaced memo. And I’m telling you what it says.

Q  — the amount in the source —

Mr. Hadley:  The amount is in dispute, and it’s debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. The CIA memorandum said that it had told — that CIA had told the Congress about concerns about the British claim with respect to this. And finally, the memo noted that Iraq already has 500 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.

I’ll tell you, as I sit here, I do not recall that paragraph. But I will also tell you that I’m confident I received the memorandum, that I would have read it carefully and in its entirety shortly after receipt.

Today I learned of a second memorandum sent by the CIA on October 6. This is commenting on draft eight of the Cincinnati speech. And by this time, by draft eight, the reference to Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium has already been deleted from the speech, as DCI Tenet asked me to do in his telephone request. And what the memorandum does is provide some additional rationale for the removal of the uranium reference.

The memorandum describes some weakness in the evidence, the fact that the effort was not particularly significant to Iraq’s nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already had a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. The memorandum also stated that the CIA had been telling Congress that the Africa story was one of two issues where we differed with the British intelligence.

This memorandum was received by the Situation Room here in the White House, and it was sent to both Dr. Rice and myself.

Q  So there were two issues —

Mr. Hadley:  Yes. And the other issue I think was the aluminum tubes issue. But I’m not sure. We need to check that. I was not party to those conversations, so we’re going to have to find out from the agency what the second issue was. And we can get that —

Q  It doesn’t say so in —

Mr. Hadley:  No. It just says, one of two issues.

Based on these memorandum, the fact is that I had been advised on October 5 that CIA had reservations about British reporting on attempts by Iraq to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa, which I understood to involve Niger. And these reservations were reaffirmed by the CIA memorandum on October 6.

And the President had every reason to believe that the text of the State of the Union presented to him was sound. But the fact is that given the October 5 and 6 CIA memorandum, and my telephone conversation with the DCI Tenet at roughly the some time, I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue.

When the language in the drafts of the State of the Union referred to efforts to acquire natural uranium, I should have either asked that they — the 16 words given to that subject be stricken, or I should have alerted DCI Tenet. And had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy.

And in my current position, I am the senior most official within the NSC staff, directly responsible for the substantive review and clearance of presidential speeches. The President and the National Security Advisor look to me to ensure that the substantive statements in those speeches are the ones in which the President can have confidence. And it is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility in connection with the inclusion of these 16 words in the speech that he gave on the 28th of January. ...

Mr. Bartlett:  ... But also what is very common in speeches of this size is that — because we go through many drafts. You all always ask how many, 28 drafts, 29 drafts. ...

Mr. Hadley:  ... The President basically has said that,

in my speeches, if I’m making a factual assertion that applies to something that a Cabinet officer is responsible for, particularly the DCI, I want the DCI to be able to stand up and say, I support the President on that fact. ...

Mr. Hadley:  So my only point is, factually it was accurate. But the problem was the DCI had reservations about it, would not feel comfortable standing behind it. And, therefore, it should not have been in the speech.

Q  Accurate in the sense that the British had actually said that, not in the sense that the information, itself —

Mr. Hadley:  And the sense that the British had sources for the truth of that assertion. They continued to stand by the assertion and they continued to stand by the sources. So it’s not just that the statement the British said is accurate because the British said it, it’s because the British stand behind the substance of that statement. ...

Mr. Hadley:  ... The way the clearance process works is most of it is done at the lower level of experts, who are close to the intelligence, close to the data, and who are in the best position to make sure what the President says is accurate.

If there are problems and disputes, there are things that can’t get resolved, they move up and they get to my level. And that is why on several occasions I’ve had conversations in the clearance of speeches with John McLaughlin and DCI Tenet. That is why he calls me in connection with the Cincinnati speech. And the reaction is typical. If he calls and says take something out, we take it out — because the President’s guidance is,

I don’t want anything in the speech of an intelligence nature that George Tenet can’t stand behind.

That’s the test of the President. ... the President is very clear what his standard is and we didn’t — I — I — didn’t meet it.

Q  And that’s not because of your predisposition to believe something else?

Mr. Hadley:  No, it’s not because of predisposition to believe something else. And the other point I would have to say is it gets into the speech in the way that Dan described. By the time it gets to me, it’s there, it’s been through a number of drafts and it’s out for the clearance process. And at that point, I’m waiting to hear problems coming in from the Agencies that need to be raised up so they can get resolved. And my standard is, you know, if Tenet has a problem, it comes out.

Q  Steve, part of the story I still can’t get my head around is the NIE comes out October 1st. And even if you hadn’t read it then — and I’m not sure if you did read it in that first week — you got a call from the Director between the 5th and the 7th saying, we’ve got problems in the Niger element of this. And the NIE, we are told, is the gold standard of your intelligence assessments. Less than a week after it’s published the Director is walking it back? And then on January 24th, four days before the speech, you get another member from the CIA quoting the NIE, presumably without some of the caveats, suggesting that it’s back in.

Now, does that tell me that the CIA’s story kept changing? What am I supposed to conclude from that? ... should the statement ever have been in the NIE?

Mr. Hadley:  That’s not a judgment for me to make. ...

Mr. Bartlett:  The information that you’re referring to in this memo was actually information that was provided for a parallel process that was going on —

Q  For the Powell speech.

Mr. Bartlett:  For the Powell presentation. As you said, they’re interchangeable people involved in both. That information was included, reciting what was in the NIE

Q  Even though the Director had warned you of that same data three months before? ...

Mr. Bartlett:  The British — we’ve mentioned the British concern raised in the Cincinnati speech. When the question is whether we could cite the British in the State of the Union process, that it was signed off on by the CIA. Now, what has been explained by the CIA is that George Tenet didn’t look at those relevant sections of the speech, and they’ve made this explanation. But in that process, it did — it was approved.”

October 16 2002:
Walter Pincus, Dana Priest “U.S. Had Uranium Papers Earlier: Officials Say Forgeries on Iraqi Efforts Reached State Dept. Before Speech” (Washington Post, July 18 2003, page A1):

“The State Department received copies of what would turn out to be forged documents suggesting that Iraq tried to purchase uranium oxide from Niger three months before the president’s State of the Union address, administration officials said.

The documents, which officials said appeared to be of “dubious authenticity,” were distributed to the CIA and other agencies within days. But the U.S. government waited four months to turn them over to United Nations weapons inspectors who had been demanding to see evidence of U.S. and British claims that Iraq’s attempted purchase of uranium oxide violated U.N. resolutions and was among the reasons to go to war. State Department officials could not say yesterday why they did not turn over the documents when the inspectors asked for them in December. ...

“ The CIA did say, take it out, and we did.”

Scott McClellan, Press Briefing, July 17 2003

Beginning in October, the CIA warned the administration not to use the Niger claim in public. CIA Director George J. Tenet personally persuaded deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley to omit it from President Bush’s Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

“ Italian journalist Burba handed the documents to the U.S. Embassy in Rome on Oct. 11 ... when the State Department’s intelligence branch distributed the documents on Oct. 16 to the CIA and other intelligence agencies, it included a caveat that the claims were of “dubious authenticity”.”

Uranium Claim Was Known for Months to Be WeakWashington Post July 20 2003

The documents first came into the U.S. government’s hands when a journalist turned them over to U.S. Embassy officials in Rome. Other officials said previously that the Italian intelligence services had given the documents to the British, which first mentioned the Niger-Iraq claim in its published case against Iraq in September.

“We acquired the documents in October of 2002, and they were shared widely within the U.S. government, with all the appropriate agencies in various ways,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday.

On March 7, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei announced they were forged. It is not yet known who created the forgeries.”

March 7 2003:
Mohamed ElBaradei (Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency), “The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update(37kb.pdf), UN Security Council, New York City, March 7 2003:

“With regard to Aluminium tubes, the IAEA has conducted a thorough investigation of Iraq’s attempts to purchase large quantities of high-strength aluminium tubes. As previously reported {Dec. 19, Jan. 8, Jan. 20, Jan. 27, Feb. 14}, Iraq has maintained that these aluminium tubes were sought for rocket production. Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets. ...

Based on available evidence, the IAEA team has concluded that Iraq’s efforts to import these aluminium tubes were not likely to have been related to the manufacture of centrifuges and, moreover, that it was highly unlikely that Iraq could have achieved the considerable re-design needed to use them in a revived centrifuge programme. ...

Magnets: ... Iraq has purchased high-strength magnets for various uses. Iraq has declared inventories of magnets of twelve different designs. The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing. ...

With regard to Uranium Acquisition ... Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents — which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger — are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.”

“ The former ambassador believes suspicion fell on him because his name appeared in forged documents given to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Last week the IAEA confirmed that two interviews took place with Mr Zahawie in Baghdad this year.

Mr Zahawie said he was summoned to Baghdad in February from Jordan to meet a team of inspectors from the IAEA. He was asked whether he had signed a letter on 6 July 2000 to Niger concerning uranium. “I said absolutely not; if they had seen such a letter it must be a forgery.”

Later he was asked for a facsimile of his signature. He provided copies of letters he had written in Rome, and “those letters must have convinced the IAEA team that the document they had was a forgery.””

“ My only mission was to meet the President of Niger and invite him to visit Iraq. The invitation and the situation in Iraq resulting from the genocidal UN sanctions were all we talked about. I had no other instructions, and certainly none concerning the purchase of uranium.”

Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraqi ambassador, Vatican, Independent, Aug. 10 2003


Seymour M. Hersh “Who Lied to Whom?” (The New Yorker, March 31 2003, posted March 24 2003).


For evidence of their specific intent to deceive, see the Bush-Blair lie about what France said: Ultimatum: The Bush/Blair lie: France’s veto (France’s decision to veto “under any circumstances”).


Mobile WMD Producton Trailers

Anonymous, “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants{742kb.pdf, copy, 742kb.pdf} (Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, May 28 2003).

Judith Miller, William J. Broad, “Some Analysts of Iraq Trailers Reject Germ Use” (New York Times, June 7 2003). Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett, “Blow to Blair over ‘mobile labs’: Saddam’s trucks were for balloons, not germs” (The Observer, June 8 2003). Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett and Gaby Hinsliff, “Iraqi Mobile Labs Nothing to do with Germ Warfare, Report Finds” (The Observer, June 15 2003) {copy}. Douglas Jehl, “State Department Disputes CIA View of Trailers as Labs” (New York Times, June 26 2003).


Coming-up: UAVs, chemical, biological


By CJHjr: links, highlighting, text {in braces}.

© 2003 Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

This document may be freely copied.


Posted July 17 2003. Updated Feb. 6 2004.


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