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June 14, 2003, 11:45 A.M.

We love this post at The New Republic's &c. regarding the bogus documentation of the Iraqi/Niger uranium deal referenced by the President in his SOTU speech :

"[quoting from Walter Pincus’ 6/13/03 WaPo article] 'A White House spokesman said yesterday, "We have acknowledged that some documents detailing a transaction between Iraq and Niger were forged and we no longer give them credence. They were, however, only once piece of evidence in a larger body of evidence suggesting Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa.'

The official added that in his speech the president talked about purchases from Africa and did not specifically mention Niger, adding that Bush's comments were "based on a multiple of other sources.'

Hmm. Let's see if we can put this delicately: WHAT OTHER FRICKIN' EVIDENCE???!!! WHAT OTHER FRICKIN' SOURCES???!!!

Are we expected to believe that the administration has been sitting on a mountain of evidence suggesting Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from multiple African countries, but that the only piece of evidence it actually ended up citing in public was the one that happened to be bogus? Are we expected to believe that, once Niger story was publicly revealed to be bogus, the administration decided it'd be better to keep sitting on the legitimate evidence that Saddam had been trying to purchase uranium from Africa and, instead, to just let the bogus evidence speak for itself? Well, Dick, I guess we could share this incredibly incriminating, incredibly damning pile of evidence with the rest of the world. But then that would probably prove the merits of the war beyond a reasonable doubt, and getting help from all those second-rate European armies would be much more trouble than it's worth. Good point, Don. Why don't we just keep that stuff quiet and rest our case with the forged Niger documents...

Are you kidding us? THERE ARE NO OTHER SOURCES. It's about time the administration owned up to it."

Read it all. By the way, Philpot On Politics was on the forged Niger documents story back in March. Check it out. Keep your dial tuned to www.philpotonpolitics.com. We've got our finger on the pulse.

June 10, 2003, 11:00 P.M.

CNN reports today that the Bush administration is refusing to respond in writing to a request made by Senator Joseph Lieberman for information regarding the administration’s involvement in the use of federal funds to help Texas Rangers track down Democrats who left the state to avoid a vote on a Republican redistricting plan. This ought to really tick people off. Senator Lieberman and his constituents have a right to an answer and the refusal of the administration to answer in writing is the height of arrogance.

The fact that Ari Fleischer claims to have spoken with Karl Rove and was told that there was no authorization for the use of federal money in the Texas Roundup is of no comfort. After all, these are the same people who said we were going to invade Iraq due to the imminent threat posed by Iraq's extensive WMD program. The Bush administration lacks credibility. That is why Senator Lieberman asked for all communication by Bush staff members about the use of federal funds in the roundup; he did not ask for an opinion from Karl Rove or Ari Fleischer.

Incidentally, Joseph Lieberman is a United States Senator who happens to be running for President. His request cannot, and should not, be dismissed because he is a candidate for President. That has nothing to do with whether or not he is owed a written response. Ari Fleischer is not an elected representative of anyone. He is a paid spokesman. His comments regarding the request are out of line: “This is publicity seeking, not serious. The questions have been answered.” Disrespecting the United States Senate and one of its members is wrong. This issue is not going away, and no amount of insolence or conceit can change that.

June 10, 2003, 10:30 A.M.

Take time to read this Gary Kamiya story in Salon today. It echoes our sentiments in our chop shop piece.

June 10, 2003, 10:15 A.M.

Well, this is encouraging. Take a look at this CNN story: White House Denies Role in Hunt for Texas Democrats. It looks like this story might finally be going somewhere. Stay tuned to PoP for updates.

June 9, 2003, 1:00 P.M.

Bush administration supporters are turning to two tactics to deflect attention from its overstatement of Iraqi WMD capabilities prior to the invasion. The first is revisionist history. The second is to attack anyone who questions the government on this or any other question as unpatriotic and not supportive of “the troops.” Recent articles appearing on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and by the New York Times’ William Safire turn the obvious question of the missing weapons of mass destruction into the problem of anyone who dares wonder where they might be.

High level administration officials such as Paul Wolfowitz are now “refining” their thoughts and “focusing” their pre-war rhetoric on issues other than the lack of intelligence that Iraq possessed the 5000 gallons of anthrax, several tons of VX nerve agent, 100 to 500 tons of other toxins, including botulinin, mustard gas, ricin and sarin, 15 to 20 Scud missiles, drones fitted with poison sprays and mobile chemical laboratories, that President Bush and Colin Powell told us and the world that the Iraqis had. The Pentagon’s transcript of Wolfowitz’s May 9, 2003 interview with Vanity Fair’s Sam Tannenhaus records the following statement by Wolfowitz:

“…And most of these were things that people warned were absolutely certain to happen if we went to war [oilfields destroyed, attacks on Israel, fortress in Baghdad, civil war in northern Iraq, etc.]. I think a few of them I thought were exaggerated. The one that has always worried me the most was the use of weapons of mass destruction. We still don’t know why they weren’t used. That’s something maybe we’ll know more about one of these days, I don’t know.”
The CIA is apparently prepared to report its raw intelligence data to Congress for review and analysis. All reports from Washington suggest that, while an October 2002 national intelligence estimate supported the premise that Iraq had WMDs, recently released backup data contained a lot of qualifiers like “probably” and “the evidence strongly suggests.”

Faced with the fact that Iraq’s capability to harm U.S. citizens or proliferate chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to the extent once claimed, White House hawks are circling the wagons, trying to “refocus” the historical record on other reasons for going to war. The argument offered by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al. seems to say that just removing Saddam and “freeing” the Iraqi people is now reason enough to justify the war. This emphasis on “other reasons” is simply an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that the intelligence was spun and manipulated to provide justification that the American people could support.

The Pentagon’s top policy advisor, Donald Feith, has been operating what appears to be a sort of intelligence chop shop, cutting out unfavorable information and pasting in evidence supporting the administration’s claims of a WMD program in Iraq. At a June 4, 2003 briefing Feith admitted that he created an intelligence unit within the Defense Department just after September 11 to look for world-wide terrorist links, including Iraq, that may have been overlooked by the CIA. This unit scanned intelligence gathered by other agencies for information supporting the administration’s position, harvesting intelligence to illustrate Iraq’s terror connections. Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker that the Pentagon’s intelligence unit relied on information supplied by Ahmad Chalabi's intelligence network inside Iraq, and that this information tended to be mistrusted by the CIA. Tension has been growing recently between the Pentagon and the CIA over the issue of Iraqi intelligence, and some CIA analysts have complained of pressure from Pentagon and White House officials to produce recommendations that support administration views. Condoleezza Rice confirmed on Sunday that Vice President Dick Cheney made several trips to the CIA during the period when intelligence relating to Iraqi WMD programs was being developed, but denied that he pressured anyone at the agency.

The strange thing about all of this is that so much effort was put into creating a compelling reason to go to war that the public could understand and support. Paul Wolfowitz, in the same Vanity Fair interview, now suggests that neutralizing Iraq to facilitate the removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia was a “major reason” for going to war. The presence of U.S. troops on Saudi soil has been a sore spot in Arab-U.S. relations and is a major motivator behind the al Qaeda network’s attacks on the U.S. and our interests. If this was a major reason, we should have been told – we could have understood it. Wolfowitz went on to explain that:

“The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason...”
The White House is revising the history of the war in Iraq to avoid discussing the fact that either its intelligence was bad or it was manipulated. Neither scenario is very flattering. What’s worse, however, is the new attack on the patriotism of anyone who questions or challenges the government on this issue, or the manipulation of the media in the aircraft carrier speech, or the Jessica Lynch story is not “supportive of the troops.” On the world stage, America is further losing credibility. At home, some of us are losing confidence in our government’s ability to recognize that the truth matters.

Speaking of truth, I choose to believe – I want to believe – Sammy Sosa. The use of a corked bat to give fans a show with big hits in practice is a plausible explanation. The fact that 81 other bats (76 game bats and 5 in the Hall of Fame) came up clean is heartening. Sammy needs to take his punishment and move on. His fans, including me, will love him for it.

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