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Two Speeches. Two Audiences. One Purpose.

by Todd Johnston
ePluribus Media

ePluribus Media's editor's note:
ePluribus Media has conducted an in depth analysis of the morphology of the critical words in the POTUS speeches referring to the Niger Yellowcake controversy, a subject recently commented upon by BarbinMD.

The Bush administration's end game had been regime change in Iraq: Convince Congress in October; convince the American people in January, and then convince the Iraqis with "shock and awe." But on Friday, July 11, 2003, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush's national security advisor (NSA), forgot a crucial detail in the aft, press section of Air Force One.

To be fair, the week of July 6-13, 2003, was anything but normal....

On Monday evening, the seventh, Rice departed for Africa with the President, part of his retinue for a five-day, five-nation diplomatic tour.

A few hours later, with Air Force One safely away from Washington, D.C., a "senior Bush administration official" finally acknowledged to reporters that the 2003 State of the Union address should not have included 16 words:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

The concession was prompted by successive accusations on the sixth and seventh -- first by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and then by the British Parliament -- that the intelligence supporting Bush's claim was not credible. And by the eighth, the media decided the White House's justification for war was officially fair game.

But that decision didn't catch up to Air Force One until the end of the week -- Friday, July 11, 2003, the day Rice forgot that crucial detail. The day Rice told reporters the truth about how those 16 words ended up in the State of the Union address.

"Wow, that wasn't clear at all"

The following Monday, July 14, back at the White House Fleischer would try to fix Rice's gaffe by distorting time and space:

Q: Ari, to follow-up...the draft of the State of the Union speech -  according to Dr. Rice's briefing on the plane on Friday...

MR. FLEISCHER: She was referring to [the] Cincinnati [speech] in that. I talked to her afterwards, and she was referring to Cincinnati...

Q: When she said that on the plane?


Q: Wow, that wasn't clear at all.

What was said in that curious Friday briefing on Air Force One, en route to Entebbe, Uganda, was transcribed and archived at the White House's Web site. But that record contains nothing to support Fleischer's version of the events, or the conversation Fleischer and Rice had afterwards.

The transcript does, however, reveal how that specific line of questioning began:

Q: Dr. Rice, there are a lot of reports, apparently overnight, that CIA people had informed the NSC well before the State of the Union that they had trouble [with] the reference in the speech.

What followed were roughly 40 questions and answers about a line in a speech and the decision to include it. Eight of those questions contained the phrase "state of the union," as did 10 of Rice's answers.

The transcript of that July 11th briefing contains not a single reference to the president's speech on October 7, 2002, in Cincinnati -- not the city, state, venue, season, month, day or year. Simply put, Fleischer's claim seems very suspicious.

So, if Fleischer did lie on the 14th, why choose such an obvious one? What would justify the risk? Fleischer's diversion seemed to be blunt-force trauma compared to the more common application of a surgically interpreted word or phrase.

Actually, Fleischer did not dispute a single word Condoleezza Rice said. Instead he translated her words through time and changed their context. He displaced them from January 28, 2003, to October 7, 2002.

October 2002

With all due respect to everyone at the Cincinnati Museum Center on October 7, 2002, the president's speech that night had been written for a different audience: the 107th Congress of the United States.

On October 2nd the Senate and the House of Representatives had introduced joint resolutions "to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq." And on October 8th, the day after Bush's speech, both houses were to meet to consider giving the president that authority.

About a month earlier, the Senate had requested a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's WMD -- essentially a catalog of classified documents from the entire intelligence community, including analysis, discussion, the general consensus and dissenting opinions. On October 1st the NIE was presented to Congress.

[Editor's note: The information that follows is from the Senate Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Warning to those on low-speed dial-up: This is an enormous (24Mb) PDF file.]

On October 4th the NSC, headed by Rice and Deputy NSA Stephen Hadley, sent draft six of the Cincinnati speech to the CIA. It included the sentence, "[Iraq] has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa." Uranium oxide is also called "yellow cake."
On the 5th the CIA faxed a memo to Hadley stating, "[R]emove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source." Later that day the NSC submitted draft seven. The sentence remained, but "up to 500 metric tons" had been replaced with "substantial amounts."

On the 6th Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet called Hadley directly. Tenet said the reporting was "weak" on Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium from Africa. The NSC removed the sentence.

But after this call, the CIA sent a fax to the NSC that included "more on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa." This fax listed three points.

These three points -- more than Karl Rove, Joseph Wilson or the Downing Street Minutes -- demonstrate the collusion between the White House and the intelligence community during the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. The CIA's fax stated:

  1. The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities.
  2. The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory.
  3. We have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British.

The first two are damning enough. The CIA knew its source wasn't credible. And the CIA knew Iraq had no motive to buy yellow cake from Africa because Iraq already had it...and lots of it.

Nuclear bombs are made from enriched uranium; yellow cake is only refined. Iraq's "large stock" was 550 metric tons of refined uranium, enough for 55 nuclear bombs if enriched. But Iraq did not have the technology to enrich its uranium; besides, the uranium Iraq had was sealed and inspected annually by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But point three is the real kicker -- the CIA's reminder to the NSC that members of Congress would be watching. These members of Congress, who had read the classified October 1st NIE, thus knew the evidence was weak.

The president could not say the words, "caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa," because Congress knew the truth.

"When she said that on the plane?"

So, nine months after Cincinnati and six months after the State of the Union address, what did Condoleezza Rice say in the press section of Air Force One, on July 11, 2003? More to the point, what changed between October 7, 2002, and January 28, 2003?

The answer is, nothing.

That Friday, simply put, Rice was grilled. David Gregory of NBC News reported later that Rice had responded "testily."

Rice repeatedly and truthfully described how those 16 words made it into the State of the Union address. And by doing so, she revealed that those words, cut from a speech aimed at Congress but delivered in Cincinnati, had been put back in for the American people:

Q: Dr. Rice, there are a lot of reports, apparently overnight, that CIA people had informed the NSC well before the State of the Union that they had trouble the [sic] reference in the speech.

DR. RICE:...Now, the sentence in question comes from the notion the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake. And, remember, it says, "seeking yellow cake in Africa" is there in the National Intelligence Estimate...

...That was relied on to, like many other things in the National Intelligence Estimate, relied on to write the President's speech.... There was even some discussion on that specific sentence, so that it reflected better what the CIA thought.

Now, I can tell you, if the CIA, the Director of Central Intelligence, had said, take this out of the speech, it would have been gone, without question.

Did you catch that? Rice, when asked about the State of the Union, replied that the NSC had relied on the National Intelligence Estimate -- the NIE -- to write the president's speech. To write the State of the Union address.

She then stated that if the DCI had said, "take this out of the speech," she would have taken it out "without question." Like the sentence in the Cincinnati speech.

Rice continued:

DR. RICE: The British document was an unclassified document, and so cite the unclassified document. The underlying intelligence to the British document is in the NIE.... So the underlying documentation here is the NIE.

President Bush cited that British document in his State of the Union address, three months after the CIA told the NSC that this intelligence was "overblown" and "one of the two issues where we differed." And it had been removed -- for Cincinnati.

And again:

Q: If I could just follow up. On that sentence, you said that the CIA changed the -- that things were done to accommodate the CIA. What was done?

DR. RICE: Some specifics about amount and place were taken out....

Q Was "place" Niger...?

DR. RICE: No, there are several -- there are several African countries noted. And if you say -- if you notice, it says "Africa," it doesn't say "Niger."

Cincinnati? The NSC removed all references to "amount" and "place" in October, not the word "Niger." "Africa" was the 16th of those 16 words in the State of the Union address.

Back on October 6, 2002, the CIA had had to ask the NSC twice to remove a sentence from the President's speech, a sentence claiming that Iraq had "been caught attempting to purchase...tons of uranium oxide from Africa."

A sentence based on "weak" reporting in the NIE and "overblown" British intelligence, a sentence that wouldn't get past Congress -- because some members had seen the NIE, and only Congress could authorize the invasion.

But on January 28, 2003, the NSC -- headed by Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley -- put that sentence back in for the State of the Union address, based on the same NIE and the same British intelligence.

Why? Because this time the audience wasn't really Congress; it was the American people. And the American people had not seen the classified NIE.

Apples and Oranges

Monday, July 14, 2003, was Ari Fleischer's last day as White House press secretary. He entered the James S. Brady Briefing Room to a round of applause, smiled broadly, and after a few wry quips said, "let's begin." His game face snapped back into place.

Fleischer responded smoothly and blandly -- business as usual - as question after question about "Africa" and "uranium" and "the State of the Union" missed the mark. But Fleischer's rhythm was about to be broken:

Q: You referred to it, Ari, as a minor element, but it was important enough to delete in the October speech, a reference to this.

"October." Fleischer focused, took a second to be sure he'd heard that one right:

MR. FLEISCHER: A reference to what?

Q: A reference to Iraq's alleged attempt to get the uranium from Niger. In that case, the CIA Director asked Mr. Hadley to delete it, and it was deleted. Should that not have raised all kinds of red flags come January, when a similar reference pops up in the speech? Should not Mr. Hadley or someone from the White House made sure to check this out with the CIA?

Bull's-eye. Time to get paid.

MR. FLEISCHER: It was a different reference in the State of the Union speech...that Iraq is...seeking uranium from Africa. That's because there was additional reporting from the CIA, separate and apart from Niger...So it's an apple in Cincinnati and an orange in the State of the Union...

Q: Ari, to follow-up...the apple was a reference in a draft to the October speech to a specific quantity of uranium from Niger. To take another apple, the draft of the State of the Union speech -- according to Dr. Rice's briefing on the plane on Friday -- included references to quantity and place, and we were told that that was Niger, they were taken out.

MR. FLEISCHER: She was referring to Cincinnati in that. I talked to her afterwards, and she was referring to Cincinnati when she said that.

Q: When she said that on the plane?


Q: Wow, that wasn't clear at all.

You can think of it this way:

Imagine that on Friday, July 11, 2003, Condoleezza Rice was handing out oranges in the aft section of Air Force One and someone absentmindedly stuffed one into his pocket. On Monday, that someone remembered the orange, pulled it from his pocket, and showed it to Ari Fleischer.

And Fleischer, after glancing down at the orange, calmly looked up and with a straight face said, "That's not an orange. That's an apple."

Today, more than two years later, it's still an apple.

ePluribus Media Credits

Researchers/Contributors: Susie Dow, Zan, silence, intranets, luaptifer, kfred, irishsprite, jeninRI, sawcielackey, Ron Brynaert, wanderindiana, biblio, bronxdem, SusanG, madhat, Cho, standingup, NYBri, Penny Century, MKT, DEFuning, Sue

Note:  Please let us know of any contributor not listed.

Originally posted to ePluribus Media on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:26 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good catch... (4.00)
    Rice saying "Wow, that wasn't clear at all" is even MORE ludicrous in the context of claiming she was talking about the Cincinnati speech, since the uranium line was in fact REMOVED form the speech by at the insistence of the CIA.

    So it is even MORE stupid to claim that it was a surprise and "we didn't know" about that speech, when they most certainly did know.. but the larger one they expect everyone to swallow is that after being told off the uranium fiction in Oct 2002, they put it back in for the SOTU.. then Ari claims Condi was saying wow about the Cincy speech is beyond laughable.

    Again, outstanding catch.


    Mitch Gore

    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

    by Lestatdelc on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:31:19 PM PDT

    •  As I read it, it wasn't Condi who said (4.00)
      "wow that wasn't clear" - it was a reporter responding to Ari in the 7/14 briefing.
      •  I understood it was a reporter, (4.00)
        and not Rice, who was saying that as well.

        What does it mean to be a moderate? Do you support half of George Bush's policies? Do you believe half of his lies?

        by lecsmith on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:14:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was the reporter... (4.00)
          who said it... in reaction to Ari saying that Rice was referring to Cincinnati.  

          It had been pretty clear on the plane that Rice was talking about the SOTU -- a gazillion references to the SOTU -- but then Ari flipped it and said she was referring to the October speech i Cincinnati..

          The reporter was, like, "Wow, that wasn't clear at all."

      •  Gotcha... (4.00)
        hadn't read the transcript yet when I posted that.

        The way it was written here (an hanging quote) confused me as to who was saying it.

        Mea culpa.


        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:25:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know about anyone else... (4.00)
          but this entire diary is confusing.

          I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE E Pluribus, but in all honesty, this diary can use some work.  

          It seems to be assuming that we are all insiders.

          I admit I am not fully up to date on this stuff, but I am pretty well informed.  I need more background for this and more explanation.

          •  i'm with you (4.00)
            This is a new thread and good research. But theres no short summary.

            Could someone who understands this diary fully write up the main points.

            I get this part:

            A Reference to Niger getting uranium was removed from the POTUS speech to Congress. Bush admin did it after getting clued by the CIA that CIA had debunked  the niger/uranium claims already to Congress, So bush was gonna look like an ignorant lying fool making the claim.

            the reference was later put back in the state of the union because we plain folk were clueless about the classified intel debunking the claims. (references were changed from "Niger" to "Africa")

            But I dont get the part about Ari changing what Condi was referring to and how that nails things down.

            •  Covering Condi's slip was important (4.00)
              because her reference to changing quantity and place could only refer to the SOTU speech.  In the October speech the "16 words" were altogether absent.  

              The fact that Condi indicated that the STOU speech had originally included not just the "16 words" but specific references to both quantity (500 tons?) and place (Niger) makes it clear that THEY KNEW the statement was suspect but USED IT ANYWAY.

              There is a big difference between making a mistake and telling a carefully crafted lie.  People will easily forgive the one, but not the other.  Condi's statement risked exposing the intentional nature of the inclusion of the "16 words" in the SOTU speech.  Condi's statement exposes the lie.  

              Had the lie been exposed at that point in time, support for the Iraq invasion, among us plain folk, would have taken a major hit.  It might have even been enough to scuttle the whole war.  

              You're in a bad spot here, Scott...(Terry Moran - 7/11 WH briefing)

              by ovals49 on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 02:46:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Also Ari figured folks hadn'tr ead Wilson's op-ed (4.00)
                They specifically used "Africa" has a way of throwing Wilson and others off the scent.  If you remember Wilson didn't say anything in Januray because he was told that perhaps the President was talking about other Africa nations that mine uranium.  

                Most Americans wouldn't have read Wilson's op-ed they would have just seen the hubbub on the news and probably been confused.  So Ari was consciously lying to make it appear to be a simple mistake.  Just 16 careless words.

                •  Later Wilson found out there were no other nations (4.00)

                  The president was definitely talking about Niger everytime he mentioned Uranium and "Africa."

                  As I type this I reminded about how Saddam was a threat because he was in a "dangerous neighborhood."  Meaning that, since Ossam was working in Afghanistan, Saddam must be a threat in Iraq.  Taking advantage of American's ignorance about the rest of the world.

          •  I'm with you (4.00)
            I read and read and read and had no idea what was important and why until I read the diary again for a third time. To me, it's not so much the "inside/outside", but the structure.  

            I also chased several link leads thinking they would help resolve the mystery.  They only added to it.

            Start off with a simple who, what, when, where and how.

    •  Actually, it was two reporters (4.00)
      The briefing video is available here at the White House web site.

      This particular briefing video never pans the crowd, plus it is the policy of the White House not to provide questioners names in briefing transcripts. Sadly, I failed to figure out the names to fit the voices.

      But a reporter who, in my opinion, was on Air Force One on the 11th, asked the initial question. When Fleischer claimed Rice had been speaking about Cincinnati, the reporter pauses for a second. The back of his head, at least, seemed surprised.

      A second reporter, who I suspect was also on AF1 asks "when she said that on the plane?" Someone then says "Wow, that wasn't clear at all."

      It is hard to tell who made that last statement from the video, but the statement is in the transcript.

      What's perfectly clear is that more than one person thought Fleischer's claim was perplexing.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:48:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Condoleezza Rice at the Center of the Plame Scanda (4.00)
    It was September 2002, and then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fastening on CNN perhaps the most memorable and frightening single link in the Bush regime's chain of lies propagandizing the war on Iraq. Behind her carefully planted one-liner with its grim imagery was the whole larger hoax about Saddam Hussein possessing or about to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a deception as blatant and inflammatory as claims of the Iraqi dictator's ties to Al Qaeda.

    Rice's demagogic scare tactic was also very much part of the tangled history of alleged Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, the fabrication leading to ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous exposé of the fraud, the administration's immediate retaliatory "outing" of Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and now the revelation that the President's supreme political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby were involved in that potentially criminal leak-altogether the most serious political crisis Bush has faced. In fact, though her pivotal role has been missed entirely ­or deliberately ignored-in both the media feeding frenzy and the rising political clamor, Condoleezza Rice was also deeply embroiled in the Niger uranium-Plame scandal, arguably as much as or more so than either Rove or Libby.

    For those who know the invariably central role of the NSC Advisor in sensitive political subjects in foreign policy and in White House leaks to the media as well as tending of policy, especially in George W. Bush's rigidly disciplined, relentlessly political regime, Rice by both commission and omission was integral in perpetrating the original fraud of Niger, and then inevitably in the vengeful betrayal of Plame's identity. None of that spilling of secrets for crass political retribution could have gone on without her knowledge and approval, and thus complicity. Little of it could have happened without her participation, if not as a leaker herself, at least with her direction and with her scripting.

    •  Thanks for reminding us (4.00)
      I have also noticed that despite her extremely prominent role in hyping the 'threat', her name hardly comes up in the context of the investigations.  Let's recall that it was during the same plane ride that someone is supposed to have seen the secret memo identifying Plame as a covert agent.
  •  nice reporting... (4.00)
    confusingly put together.  If someone could simplify the implications of this information into a few short sentences, it would have greater impact.

    "Don't expect politicians, even the good ones, to do your job for you. Politicians are like weather vanes. Our job is to make the wind blow." David R. Brower

    by lindaw on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:40:19 PM PDT

    •  The discrepancies clearly point to (4.00)
      intentional manipulations directed at particular audiences.  NOT ineptitude, NOT forgetfulness, NOT inter departmental miscommunications.  What we got was a dishonest sales job to sell an illegal war.  

      You're in a bad spot here, Scott...(Terry Moran - 7/11 WH briefing)

      by ovals49 on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:47:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Give it to Frank Rich (3.75)
      Reads too much like a novel.  You have to hit this stuff hard and straight.  Fabulous piece of research.
    •  YES! ePlurb! Please at least add a summary... (4.00)
      at the end of this diary summing up what has been said. You know, follow the old "tell them what you're going to say, say it and then tell them what you said" plan because after I read through the diary the first time, Rice's and Fleischer's distortions were not at all clear to me. If we want the general public to get the lowdown on these incidents, things need to be spelled out for them otherwise they'll lose interest.
      •  Also, what hit me after (4.00)
        was that it was NOT okay to try and pull one over on Congress, but the American people were "fair game."  That is VERY important.

        The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

        by MoronMike on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:50:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly... (4.00)
          You nailed it...

          Standard Operating Procedure for the Bush WH... give the citizens lies and propaganda...

        •  Correct (4.00)
          The administration couldn't lie about it in October right before the Congressional vote because Congress had access to the NIE that said the intelligence was bad.

          But since the American public, a few months later, didn't have that information (and Congressional members couldn't publicly refute it without referring to classified material), it made it into the SOTU.

          The American public was fucked over.

          •  And that's why... (4.00)
            some Senators like Graham from Florida went ballistic...he knew the truth and couldn't site the NIE.
            •  Bad excuse (4.00)
              _couldn't site the NIE._ He could have come out and said that he knew for a fact that the SOTU was a dishonest piece of shit and then called for impeachment.

              Restore Democracy! Denounce the GOP (George Orwell's Party)!

              by high5 on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:25:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  July 11 and 14, 2003 in Context (4.00)
            These dates aren't only significant for what Rice and Fleischer were saying in press gaggles on Air Force One; don't forget, these were the same dates connected to Robert Novak's article outing Valerie Plame.

            As Fleischer's goal was to mislead the press and the American people away from the truths that Rice mistakenly spoke, he was aided by the "distraction" of Plame's outing.

            • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • °

            by wanderindiana on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:10:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Hang on a sec (none)
            If the information was in fact still classified in January, then wouldn't it have been impossible to include it in the SOTU speech?  Wouldn't Bush have to officially declassify the information before telling it to the public?  Can the president make a declaration based on classified information without actually declassifying it in the process?  This is a genuine question, I don't know what the rules are for this.  If its presence in the SOTU speech did make it declassified, then would that mean Congress could have refuted it, but chose not to?
            •  The SOTU cited British Intelligence (4.00)
              I believe the British claims were stated publicly prior to the SOTU.
              •  Blair Dossier September 24, 2002 (4.00)
              •  Ahh, sneaky (4.00)
                He knew our intelligence didn't support the claim, so he cites British intelligence instead.  That's almost not a lie... kind of... oy.
                •  And the British intelligence... (4.00)
                  ...was based on foreign intelligence sources which Britain could never reveal.
                  •  Yeah.. (4.00)
                    because those foreign intel service sources that the British will not name, where the SAME ones we had... France passing along the summary of the Italian SIMSI evidence, which was all base don the forged documents.

                    Josh Marshall over at TPM worked it all out, how they were all laundering and referencing each others copies of the same summary based on forged documents.

                    It is like me claiming that the summary of forged documents I got form a third party is somehow "other sources" than when I got the actual forged documents in my hand and they are revealed to be forged.


                    Mitch Gore

                    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                    by Lestatdelc on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:39:40 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Exactly! (4.00)
                    This was before my blogging days when I was completely reliant on the corporate press. I remember very well the "He said" - "She said" back and forth during this period where Blair and Co. were telling the British that they got their information from the Americans and Bush and Co. were telling the Americans that they were relying on intelligence from the British. I was still in Germany at that time and was watching both the British/American Corporate Media.

                    Help turn Ohio Blue - support Paul Hackett for the Aug 2 elections!

                    by Jill Lehnert on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 07:41:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  and since Shrub made the speech... (none)
            ...and the words came out of HIS MOUTH, then HE demonstrably is a part of this.

            "I have come here to chew bubble gum and to kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum. Oh -- have you read the Downing Street Minutes yet?"

            by Newton Snookers on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:04:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's why (4.00)
            this little sub-thread should be at the top of the diary: you've just captured the key frame for the whole research in three very clear sentences...

            In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

            by a gilas girl on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 03:47:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  gilas girl: Who are you responding 2? (none)
              you've just captured the key 3 sentences:

              I can't tell who you are responding to. If you see this again, please clarify. thanks

     - Framing / messaging thinktank

              by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 09:48:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  A summary (4.00)
      • The NSC, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, removed a sentence from a speech on 10/07/02 because the CIA told them the intel was weak and members of congress knew the intel was weak.

      • The NSC, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, used effectively the same sentence in the State of the Union because congress had already voted to give the President the authority to go to war, and they needed to scare the American people.

      • The CIA, NSC, State Department, and Department of Defense knew Iraq had no way to make a nuclear bomb anytime soon, three months before the State of the Union.

      • The President said it anyway.

      BTW, the National Security Council, the NSC?

      * chaired by the President

      --regular attendees--

      • the Vice President
      • the Secretary of State
      • the Secretary of the Treasury
      • the Secretary of Defense
      • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
      • the Director of Central Intelligence
      • The Chief of Staff to the President
      • The Attorney General
      • the Director of the Office of Management

      Now, go look and see how many of these people are gone or have gotten promotions.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:49:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Todd... (none)
        First let me say GREAT WORK.

        I am a huge supporter of you and E Pluribus and I think both DSM and Plamegate would be far less publicized without you.

        Your summary is excellent.

        However, I think the diary could use some work.  It is confusing, and the structure could use some modification to bring the point home.  (It's also a bit snarky, which I don't mind in the least as I love snarkiness, but which also can diminish a longer diary.)

        Anyway, just my two cents.  Keep up the great work!

    •  cheers for epluribus media - and (none)
      ... I also concur. This report was a tad bit confusing.

      The title alone confuses me -- because -- believe it or not, I can't tell what is facetious. I still can't say for sure what part of this story is Condi telling the truth.

      I wish you'd rename it and be straight-forward.

      I also wish there would have been a bit more timeline cross-referencing to Ari's last day -- and -- all the events going on around then, which only seem more relevant now, in light of all the Wilson, Novak, Rove, Plame information-streams.

      But irrespective of the confusing aspects, I applaud the whole epluribus media enterprise and look forward to y'all growing into a major investigative journalism force.

      On a totally different note, I found it very sad reading the text of that lying S.O.B's state of the union speech.  I could slap every democrat who was part of those 100 or more APPLAUSE lines... you weak-pansey excuses for Congressmen and women.

      This was the time when that unknown candidate, Howard Dean, was just beginning to appear on the edges of the scene -- with the very first Dean Meetup in February 2003.  Also, this period of that friggin State of the Union speech is same time period when anti-war protests were going on in majort cities across the U.S. and world ... and it is very sad thinking back to that time period here in San Francisco, when every progressive at these protests knew what pussy Kerry and pussy Edwards "apparently" didn't know: that Bush was lying to them -- and that their support of that October 2002 war powers act was a cave-in of unforgiveable proportion. IT ALL PLAYED OUT EXACTLY AS WE ALL KNEW IT THEN.


      This breaks your heart... from the SUTU speech:

      Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a President can make. The technologies of war have changed; the risks and suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow. This nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost and we dread the days of mourning that always come.

      We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means -- sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military -- and we will prevail. (Applause.) - Framing / messaging thinktank

      by rhfactor on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:57:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had a similar reaction.... (none)
      Might it be possible to run ePm stories, pre-press, by test readers unfamiliar with the material ? That might help in terms of packaging such ePm pieces in the future. The story summary didn't convey to me the two key things I wanted :

      1. What - in short - is the story about ?

      2. What is the story's relevance ?  

      Number 2 is key :  the Bush Administration has put out almost endless lies.  Readers might ask - "Is this story just a gotcha game ?"  The job of the summary should be to convince the reader that "you, the reader, should spend the time on our piece because....."

      The contextualization of the story - within a possible Bush Administration conspiracy to justify the invasion of Iraq based on intelligence known to be at least shaky if not downright fraudulent ( as well as the tie in to the Plame Affair ) - would be helpful.   That would let readers know that this ePluribus piece - and all the hard work and that went into it - has significance that merits their attention.  Does the story amount in the end to a mere gotcha game or does it uncover a key overlooked discrepancy that could bring the whole shaky cathedral of lies crashing down ? That is what readers want to get from the story summary, as in:

      "This piece builds the case of a possible conspiracy, among top Bush Adminstrtation officials.... ( etc. ).... such a conspiracy, if demonstrated,  would implicate Bush Adm. officials A,B,C,D, and E in a the federal crime of ( conspiracy, racketeering, whatever )"

      It seems to me that the narrative thrust of the story is this:

      1. The Bush Administration was hell bent on showcasing trumped up and fraudulent information on Iraq's ( nonexistent ) WMD program in order to justify Invading Iraq.

      2. Prior to the SOTU address, the CIA had contested the inclusion of the Niger Yellowcake story in the speech because the intelligence was just too shaky. The Yellowcake story was put in nonetheless.

      3. Condi Rice and Ari Fleischer have been mendacious about the inclusion in the SOTU address.

      Now, there has been a great deal of press on the phony Yellowcake story's inclusion in the SOTU.  So the possible relevance for this particular ePluribus Media exegesis of Rice's and Fleischer's mealy mouthedness about  Yellowcake would be :

      1. ePluribus researchers have caught Condi or Ari in a clear lie - which might even merit criminal prosecution.

      2. This story provides ancillary evidence supporting the existence of a ( possibly illegal ) Bush Administration conspiracy to foist a fraudulent case for the invasion of Iraq on the American people  

      I am assuming that the relevance of the story is #2

      Again, my overall point concerns packaging - so that all the work and dedication that went into this piece is utilized to maximum effect. For such stories to have legs beyond the DailyKos or the liberal side of the blogosphere it will require, I'd ventuure, a more user-friendly packaging, one which does not presuppose that readers have the sort of deep familiarity with the details of the story that ePm researchers possess.

      ( Recommended nonetheless )

  •  I asked this before (4.00)
    In this quote, please clarify the antecedent:

    But that decision didn't catch up to Air Force One until the end of the week -- Friday, July 11, 2003, the day Rice forgot that crucial detail.
    •  Two different speeches, two different audiences (none)
      one set of intel. Rice precisely described the criteria for using those 16 words in State of the Union. But by doing so, she admitted they used weak and debunked intel. The NIE and the British report.

      The only way out was to claim she had been talking about Cincinnati, when they had removed the line.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:54:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's STILL not clear (4.00)
      please clarify the antecedent:

      I agree. It sounded intriguing. A great hook. And then I expected to be told exactly what was the crucial detail she forgot. It shouldn't be a mystery to figure this out. It's analysis, not Tom Clancey, no? - Framing / messaging thinktank

      by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:01:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  more questions (4.00)
    do you know when the Niger fraud was put in the NIE?  and secondly and more to the point, is it true that Niger was still in the NIE by the time the SOTUS rolled around.

    In other words, in spite of your three points, did the NIE continue to contain one took it out between October and January?

    my last question is did Tenet see the actual SOTUS or was he just told, "oh, it's just like Cincinnati?" so he passed on reviewing it again? Then when it turned out NOT to be just like Cincinnati, he had to admit that he had shirked his responsibility?   even though he was lied to about what was in it, in order to keep him from reading it? maybe?  

    •  The claims about Niger (4.00)
      first appeared in a CIA report in 10/15/01. The CIA rated the claims as "possible" along with the DoD. Pretty much everyone else rated them as "highly suspect."

      The CIA released two more reports with increasing specificity before the NIE. But the State Department's intel arm, the INR, claimed from day one that it wasn't possible, for the same reasons Tenet cited in the article above.

      That's what was in the NIE. The CIA's reporting, described by Tenet himself as "weak." The INR went further and requested a "footnote" in the NIE -- a formal disagreement. Due to "formatting errors" the final version of the NIE had split the INR's objection into two pieces and stuck them in the back.

      The forged documents about Iraq buying yellow cake from Niger, were given to the US embassy in Italy on 10/9/02, the day before congress approved the joint resolutions to give Bush war powers.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:11:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But the reporting earlier (4.00)
        was based on summaries of that same forged documents from Italy's SIMI's... in fact the British White paper, which the WH was hiding behind when they were spinning over the 16 words is based on the same summary, of the same forged documents.

        It is analogous to you and I being handed a summary that Bush has video of Kerry going down on Bigfoot.... and instead of me quoting that summary from Bush that I got.. I said... "my friend over there, has reported that Kerry went down on Bigfoot".

        The British claims its source for the white paper was from a foreign intel service... but Josh Marshall worked through this back in 2004, that it was basically circular referencing of each others bogus summary of what later turned out to be the forged documents.


        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:36:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  FYI (4.00)
            For those who want to read TPM's work-through on this:

            Here is Josh's July 10, 2004 piece:

            Second, in many accounts of this story we hear that multiple intelligence agencies had reports of Iraq's attempts to procure uranium from Niger. But many of those reports or judgments were the fruit of the same poison tree.

            On page 69, for instance, the report states that on "March 4, 2003, the U.S. Government learned that the French had based their initial assessment that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Niger on the same documents that the U.S. had provided to the INVO" (i.e., the IAEA).

            Now, it's a premise of much reporting and in fact a subtext of the committee report that there were these various reports about Niger and that only much later did these documents surface.

            That's true with respect to the US, but also misleading.

            The French were basing their judgments on documents in question or perhaps a report based on them, as we've seen.

            The US, in turn, was basing most, though not all, of its suspicions on these reports it got from this unnamed foreign intelligence agency that provided an initial report to the US shortly after 9/11 and then another with more detail in February 2002, as the SSCI report states. That foreign government was Italy. And the information they provided also stemmed from the same documents.

            So France, Italy and the United States each had reports about the alleged Iraq-Niger sales. And each stemmed from the same source -- the forged documents, the origins of which the SSCI chose not to investigate.

            And higher level view of August 01, 2004:

            The Financial Times article led to a surge of articles and commentary suggesting that the forged documents were only a minor part of the case for the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. But, as we've noted earlier, that's a willfully misleading account, one which both the Butler Report and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report helped to further.

            Contrary to arguments that there was lots of independent evidence of uranium sales between Iraq and Niger, US government sources have told us that almost all of the important evidence derived from the phony documents. Specifically, it came from summaries of the documents Italian intelligence was distributing to other western intelligence agencies -- including those of the US, Britain and France -- in late 2001 and 2002.


            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:56:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What about that forgery? (4.00)
              Today at TPM Cafe, Josh asks a very good question about the investigation (or lack thereof) on the forgery itself.

              When my colleagues and I started investigating the Niger forgeries in early 2004, the word we got from FBI sources was that the file the bureau had put together on the forgeries was embarrassingly thin. Sources can be wrong, of course. And one would expect the true details of such a sensitive inquiry to be held very tightly. So we didn't put that much stock in those claims.
              But, as we began to investigate the story ourselves, the thought that our FBI sources might be right became more and more difficult to avoid.

              You'd think somebody at the FBI, CIA, NSA, or any other acronymic security shop would be interested in how they all got into this mess in the first place.  First causes and all that.  Guess not.  Maybe ePluribus could add this to the list of things they're looking their spare time, of course  :-)

              It's still upsetting for some people to know that the hippies were the ones telling the truth about Vietnam and trying to help America. - Anonymous

              by eunichorn on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 03:56:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  re: Same intelligence, laundered. (none)
            I just want to offer this comment. Susan, you and Todd both seem, to me, to be too clipped in the manner in which you are answering questions, with half sentences. Maybe I am the only dunce here, but it would help, given that several people are not following clearly the play-by-play, if you would pound the point home with a piledriver. Sorry, but I know this was a thorough collaborative effort. But perhaps it was edited TOO tightly as to actually remove some of the clarity.

            My 2 cents -- but i really hope you will not take offense. We want to grasp the RELEVANCE of what your central thesis is in this analysis.

   - Framing / messaging thinktank

            by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:06:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm glad SOMEBODY does nuance, even if it (4.00)
    isn't Bush.  That was an incredibly insightful piece, epm, and thanks to all who contributed.  This is the the kind of detailed stuff that may be a little too technical or dry for most voters, but that's now.  Once it gets distilled and tossed around, especially by historians, it will become more and more meaningful.

    The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

    by MoronMike on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:40:54 PM PDT

  •  Here's my problem (4.00)
    This would be a good argument. But until you prove the CIA had a refutation of the Niger documents after they had received the Niger documents, then it doesn't much matter. Because there are three versions of the story:

    • That CIA didn't get the Niger forgeries until February, not long before IAEA refuted them

    • That CIA had some verification that the Niger forgeries were fraudulent before the NIE and before the Cincinnati speech

    • That CIA should have read the INR's debunking of the story and from that realized, in late October (the INR analyst received the forgeries October 15 and debunked them immediately) that the Niger documents were fraudulent

    The first version is the story that was still, for the most part, operative in July 2003 (although CIA had tried to tell a different story, no one listened).

    The second version is probably the correct one, if you buy my argument here, based on eriposte's great post linked above.

    The third version is the version told, currently, in the SSCI.

    Only in the second version (where it was known before Cincinnati that the documents were fraudulent) would Ari's sloppy move make any difference. In the first scenario, there was NEW INFORMATION (that actual forgeries, rather than the info) between Cincinnati and the SOTU. In the third scenario, there still is NEW INFORMATION between the Cininnati speech and the SOTU.

    Only in the second version would Ari's mistake even matter.

    As it was it was sloppy and awkward and probably a now-abandoned attempt to confuse the issue. But only in the second version should a refutation of the Cincinnati speech equate to a refutation of the SOTU.

    This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

    by emptywheel on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:41:42 PM PDT

    •  Also (4.00)
      Don't forget that the NIE was declassified and the Niger claims intensified. It's not that the public hadn't seen the NIE. It's that they had seen an NIE without the considerable hedging that was present in the classified one.

      This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

      by emptywheel on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:42:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clarification about the two NIEs: (4.00)
        According to Sen. Bob Graham on pp.180-182 of Intelligence Matters:

        The WH had never requested an NIE on Iraq, so the Senate Intelligence Committee requested George Tenet to have one completed ASAP on September 5, 2002. The 90-page classified NIE was delivered to the committee '[a]bout three weeks later.'

        As Director Tenet briefed us on the NIE, he seemed to be minimizing the dissenting views contained within the report, instead concluding that the Iraqis had a sufficient stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and enough of a restored nuclear capacity to constitute a threat to the United States and to justify the use of military force to eliminate those threats. but what we were looking at was certainly not enough to justify the claim that DCI Tenet would later make to a skeptical George W. Bush, that Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk."


        Because we saw the classified NIE as containing information that would be important for the American people to know and because we further felt that much of that information was not of a character that necessitated its classification, we asked Director Tenet to review the report for the purpose of declassifying material whose publication would not entail disclosure of the sources and methods by which the information was gathered. The director agreed to do so surprisingly quickly.

        We made our request for a declassified NIE on October 2. That same day, President Bush declared that "the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency....[I]t has developed weapons of mass death," and that, furthermore, "[t]he regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons and is seeking the materials required to do so."

        A new declassified report was provided to us on October 4. This document was twenty-five pages long and was titled, simply, "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs."

        Immediately we were struck by a number of things.

        First, the production values of the unclassified version equaled or exceeded those of the classified version - with maps, graphics, photos, and tables. It seems a small point, but the CIA rarely turns around documents of such high production values so rapidly and so well. It appeared to us that the unclassified version must have been in production before the presentation of the classified version.*
        *Our suspicion was later proven correct. In the spring of 2002, six months before the Senate Intelligence Committee demanded that an NIE be prepared, the White House asked the CIA for a document that could be used to make the public case for war with Iraq. this was the first declassified document we were shown.

        Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters, pp.180-182

        My interpretation is that the classified NIE was an NIE, and the declassified 'NIE' was propaganda.

        •  Well, one problem was (4.00)
          the NIE was a piece of crap. It took 3 letters from congress to get it commissioned (stall, stall) and was cranked out in 3 weeks. The normal time frame is 4-6 months.

          I think Graham saw the NIE and figured out what was going on, but he couldn't say anything because it was classified. Thus the declassified version for the public.

          But they subtly distorted it, as you say, to remove all the hedging.

          Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

          by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:18:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  eriposte's post (4.00)
      Sorry, I thought I had linked it. Really worth a read.


      This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

      by emptywheel on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:05:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The State Department (none)
      as well as some analysts from nearly every intel agency thought the Niger forgeries were fake from the very beginning. Follow the link to the Prewar Intelligence report and start searching on "Niger."

      This is why all the focus has been placed on the failure of the intelligence community to communicate.

      But Tenet and the CIA knew in October that Niger was incapable of supplying 500 metric tons of yellow cake to anyone. The CIA's memo to NSC on October 6, 2002 said one of the mines was flooded and the other was under French control. That's Niger.

      So, a couple of days later, when documents appeared claiming that Niger had agreed to supply Iraq with 500 mT of uranium per year to Iraq, why would CIA believe them at all?

      The Director of Central Intelligence, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- same guy, George Tenet --  told the NSC in October that Niger wasn't capable of supplying that much uranium.

      The only thing that changed between then and the SOTU was the appearance of some documents that making a claim they knew was impossible and that many intel analysts immediately pegged as probably "a hoax."

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 07:53:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two points (none)
        Analysts from some intelligence services (primarily INR, CIA not WINPAC, and DOE; DIA never doubted them, and WINPAC tended to be credulous) doubted the claims. But the reasons for the doubts varied from service to service and analyst to analyst. The primary reason for INR to doubt them, for example, was that Niger's uranium mines were controlled by the French consortium. Note that, after the second cable from Italy came, the Ambassador took it seriously enough even though she knew of the controls on the mines to do some more checking. Owens-Kirkpatrick is almost certainly one of the good guys on this. If a new report is enough to make her check again, I'm not surprised someone as ethically compromised as Tenet reconsidered.

        Which is why you need to look at the dates again. Tenet was telling Bush to get rid of Niger claims the first week of October. The Niger forgeries appeared in the US on October 15. Which is more new information than Owens-Kirkpatrick received to make her want to check again.

        I'm not saying this excuses the CIA. I'm saying that, according to the currently operative story, there is a perfectly plausible reason for CIA to reconsider the Niger claims that only appeared after they had complained about the Cincinnati speech.

        If you read eriposte's post (linked above) and buy his argument that the forger responded every time a new doubt of the Niger claim came up, then it would mean passing the memos to Burba (and therefore introducing one more reason to believe the Niger claim, at least until the IC had refuted the memos) was a direct response to the strong refutations of the Niger claims surrounding the Cincinnati speech.

        This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

        by emptywheel on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:18:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also (none)
        You should clarify slightly, if we're doing nuance.

        The INR (don't say State because Bolton always believed the Niger tripe) didn't believe the Niger allegations from the very beginning. Likewise, the INR  thought the Niger forgeries were fake from the very beginning.

        But the other intelligence agencies seem not to have analyzed them closely and we know that, somehow, CIA's copies all got buried. Sure, I don't believe this story, but it gives CIA plausible deniability. See, for example, the explanation about WINPAC on 63:

        WINPAC analysts told Committee staff that, even though they were still in teh process of analyzing the documents, their analytic position had not changed, so they believed it would have been premature to publish concerns about the documents without having investigated those concerns for themselves.

        This is in December, WINPAC (which from reading the SSCI is clearly one of the groups that was either most cowed by Cheney or most supportive of him) having a (somewhat) plausible excuse for continuing to support Niger allegations.

        This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

        by emptywheel on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:36:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Kudos to Todd (4.00)
    Many of us at ePM are credited with helping on this one, but I'd like to give Todd kudos for making this connection a couple of weeks ago and patiently building his case.

    It is a major find; others like dKos' BarbinMD and Roger Morris (whose piece is frontpaged at Counterpunch today) have also had the "Aha!" about Rice's role and the true nature of the Plame outing as a piece of the larger puzzle--the Big Lies of the Bush administration used to sell their pre-planned invasion of Iraq. I am pleased to see this connection being made by others.

    I hope this discovery isn't lost on the MSM.

    • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • ° • °

    by wanderindiana on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:44:20 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. :-) But please... (4.00)
      ...that list of names at the bottom of this page in no way does service to the researchers at ePMedia who dug up all this info.

      They are quite simply inspiring.

      Every day these honorable people log on and commit hours to seeking the truth. They use their free time to defend our country for no other reward than the satisfaction of standing by their principles.

      They choose action over complacency and they refuse to be cowed by bullies. While millions of Americans are watching "The Apprentice," they opt to wade in, embrace the suffering of others, and work to alleviate it.

      That list of names at the bottom represents the idea that is growing into ePluribus Media. And the aggregate of their spirit is what ends up on this page.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:48:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  seconded (4.00)
      Todd blew us all away when he posted the original thesis a few weeks ago.  I mean many of us had read those two press briefings over and over again but we never made the connection that Todd did: that Ari lied about Condi regarding the SOTU.

      Todd Johnston is a friggin' genius!

    •  Kudos indeed! (4.00)
      Great diary...very well done and like you, I'm glad to see people are making the connections.  And it really was an "Aha" moment, wasn't it?

      And on a related subject, have you considered what George Tenet actually said when he took responsibility for the yellowcake claims?  First of all this:

      "From what we know now, [CIA] officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct -- i.e., that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa," he said. "This should not have been the test for clearing a presidential address.

      "This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

      I think this helps show that it was the White House, not the CIA, who had the final say on including the uranium claim in the SOTU...their claims of, "If the CIA had said to take it out it would have come out" notwithstanding.  Tenet, speaking of the CIA says, " the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct."  That has to be one of the most disingenuous statements of all time.  Factually correct because the British believed their own intel, never mind the CIA knew it was false.  But if they were "concurring" it means they were agreeing with the administration to put forth that dishonest justification.

      And here is quite the contradiction:

      Tenet also said top administration officials -- including Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney -- were never briefed on the CIA's skepticism about the uranium purchase allegations. Nor did he tell members of Congress during briefings on Iraq last fall.

      As is in both our diaries:

      ...on October 6th, 2002 the CIA sent a second fax to the White House which said, "more on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa...(3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, [...]

      Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

      by Barbara Morrill on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 10:11:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This from the Whitehouse website... (4.00)
    dated April 2003

    "The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on methods of enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb. He recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, according to the British Government. He has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons, according to our intelligence sources. Yet he has not credibly explained these activities." (emphasis mine)

    Huh?  This seems way out of context regarding the date.

    I *gladly* donated to ePluribus Media. Support citizen journalism!

    by nancelot on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:45:06 PM PDT

  •  Wow (4.00)
    Great catch, and great narrative.

    It would be great if you could get this, in this narrative, out to other venues (TV, print, radio, etc).

  •  Frontpage material (4.00)
    But not at Dkos. It should have been front paged by the NYT, WAPO and any other reputable news organization --back in 2003.

    How sad that in our country the national media deliberately (yes -- deliberately) ignored this story.

    It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.

    by Steven D on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:52:25 PM PDT

    •  Most of this was front-paged in July 2003 . . . (4.00)
      Here's the Walter Pinus/Mike Allen story  that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on Sunday, July 27, 2003. It's all right there, what Rice said on the plane and all the efforts to back pedal after that: Ari's twist and how it didn't make sense; Rice's claim that no one told her or the pres or vp about any doubts, even though they were spelled out in the NIE; anonymous sources saying her workload was so "overwhelming" that she might not have actually read the NIE for herself; the line about not reading "footnotes", though the dissenting opinions were printed in standard-sized, boxed text in an annex; Hadley saying it "wasn't necessary" to tell Rice about removing the line from Bush's Cinci address and that he didn't recall whether he discussed it with her . . . The whole works.

      The difference between then and now is that people were still certain the Bush Brain Trust knew what it was doing and those WMDs would be found. Too many were unwilling to admit what Kurt Vonnegut knew back in 2002: that the Bush administration was a "C Students from Yale" reality show that would stand their hair on end.  

      Don't ask me nothin' 'bout nothin'; I just might tell you the truth -- Bob Dylan

      by ponderer on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 10:30:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (none)
        What strikes me in reading the W.Pinus/M.Allen story is the incredible loyalty--and synergy--within the Bush administration.

        If this ePluribus report is correct, then the Post article shows Rice falling on Bush's sword in order to disguise a highly concerted effort to fly under the Congressional radar and to then dupe the American public.

        Here's a question: Can the strategic withholding or manipulation of evidence be considered an impeachable offense under the war powers clause? More to the point, does it matter if that evidence is presented in a speech, rather than in a sworn hearing?

  •  Great Diary. (4.00)
    Amazingly well done -- thorough and compelling.  Also, makes me want to see even more people in jail....

    also known as Madhat

    by hr on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:52:29 PM PDT

  •  I LOVE you guys. Great story (4.00)
    Great find. Good investigating.

    I was thinking of you all earlier when I was reading the diary about Les Kinsolving being 'another' Jeff Gannon in the WH Press Corp. Same crapola questions, same agenda.......

    Thanks for all the great information.....

    Fix the Problems, Don't create new ones

    by BarnBabe on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:53:27 PM PDT

  •  An aha moment (4.00)
    Thanks for the mention of my diary on this subject...I appreciate it.  :-)  

    You guys did excellent work here...I'd just like to add something that I think is important to it.  What Tenet said on 7/11/2003:

    Tenet said CIA officials reviewed portions of the draft speech and raised some concerns with national security aides at the White House that prompted changes in language concerning allegations that Iraq sought to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger.

    Reading that was an "aha moment" for me.  It shows that Ari was lying on the 14th when he did his apples/oranges juggling act (yes, we knew that).  It also proves that the administration knew full well that the "sixteen words" were false when Bush said them on 1/28/2003.  They changed Niger to Africa, knowing the reference was to Niger and they knew the claim about Niger had already been proven false.  

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:07:09 PM PDT

    •  It's amazing (4.00)
      that the flim flam still works for some people and that they cannot see that changing the wording shows "intent" to obfuscate...

      Good diary, Barb.

    •  Tenet also testified that he received (4.00)
      but never read the State of the Union:

      On January 27, 2003, the DCI was provided with a hardcopy draft of the State of the Union address at an NSC meeting. When he returned to the CIA, he passed the draft to an executive assistant to deliver to the office of the DDL No one in the office of the DDI recalls who the point of contact for the speech was, or if a point of contact was ever named. No one recalled receiving parts of the speech for coordination and because the speech was hand carried, no electronic versions of the speech exist at the CIA. The DCI testified at a July 16, 2003 hearing that he never read the State of the Union speech.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:54:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so isn't it likely (none)
        that Tenet was told "It's exactly like Cincinnati" so he wouldn't/didn't bother with it? Somebody needs to ask Tenet that question. Or was it sent over on a Friday night at 5PM when the speech was Monday? or what reason is there for the CIA not reviewing SOTUS critically?  That seems crucial.


        by seesdifferent on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 07:15:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It would have been more accurate.... (none)
      To claim that Saddam was a witch because he floats and rocks float so Saddam is a rock and rocks are witches...or something like that....based on a British...ummmm.....documentary...

      Great Diary, thanks.

  •  Help me. I'm confused. (4.00)
    I hate to admit it, but I'm going to anyway...  I feel that you're on to something important here, but I just don't get your point.  I had a really hard time following your narrative (which read like a novel more than a news release).  I'm sure that folks who have already been following every nuance of this story "get it."  But I definitely do not.

    Is there a way someone from ePM could write a 3-4 sentence summary of exactly what this is evidence of?

    •  See Moronmike's comment above. n/t (none)
    •  Dave - i was (and remain) confused as well (4.00)
      Many people are commenting above that this is an incredibly important revelation and linkage.

      I read the piece, and I have been reading Todd's clarifying comments to questions from readers.

      The main thing I want to echo about dave's remark above is that it DOES read like a spy novel --- and that's not the aim, right?  I'm not at all trying to piss on intriguing writing style... But if some folks HERE are missing the point you absolutely positively want us to come away with, then it can't possibly get delivered to mainstream as is.

      Again, if I am the exception to the rule, so be it. I would like to see it re-presented, more clearly. I really suggest rte-titling it, because it seems to want to be clever - in the title -- as opposed to bluntly clear.

      Thank you for all the research and analysis that has gone into this piece. - Framing / messaging thinktank

      by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:18:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Department of State Position on Niger Uranium (4.00)
    Great diary! Thanks for the excellent insights.

    I have one major data point to add to the discussion.

    There was the October Cincinnati speech and the January State of the Union. But there was also the list of omissions from Iraq's December 2002 declaration. You'll never guess what Iraq was accused of omitting!

    On December 19, 2002, the Department of State published a list entitled "Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council". One prominent example was:

    Nuclear Weapons
    The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.*
     Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?

    The asterisked footnote references a press conference led by Richard Boucher on July 14, 2003. The lengthy section on Niger is extremely worthwhile reading. Here is the start of the questioning:

    QUESTION: Did Secretary Powell have the opportunity to read about the Niger reference or read the Niger reference in the State of the Union address before this speech was given in late January?
    MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary has been clear he did, yes.
    QUESTION: And how come he didn't express his concerns?
    MR. BOUCHER: Because we're not the intelligence agencies. When we read a speech like that, we want to make sure it is cleared by the intelligence agency. Director Tenet has made clear it was. They are responsible for sort of their areas of concern and we're responsible for the foreign policy areas.
    We don't necessarily second-guess everybody else's discussion.
    QUESTION: He did not make forth his concerns to the White House? He did not say, "I'm concerned?"
    MR. BOUCHER: It's not a matter of, you know, when any given speech is read, if it talks about military matters, we don't necessarily second guess. We don't fiddle with the military sides of things. We look at the foreign policy aspects of it. That's what the State Department did and does.
    QUESTION: Shouldn't one expect, perhaps, more of the very small number of very senior administration officials who are in on all of the key debates on foreign policy and intelligence and defense matters, that they should take a look at the speech in its entirety and in every particular and --
    MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure that if anything jumped out at people, they would. But remember, this has been the subject of a national intelligence estimate. This has been covered already in a national intelligence estimate that said Iraq was seeking to purchase materials. And that, you know, even today says Iraq was seeking to purchase nuclear materials. And they are confident in that judgment.
    We have said we've had reports to that effect. There's, you know, it's not a matter of us to second-guess the quality of intelligence that had already appeared in a national intelligence estimate.
    •  Wow! (none)
      I kept reading through the Q&A section, very interesting. Especially the part about the British intelligence used to back up the Niger claim. He admits that the British intelligence actually came from a third courtry's intelligence sources and wouldn't identify the country the British got the info from. Sure lines up with Josh Marshall's theory of laundered sources....

      Very interesting Q&A. Obviously, they had gone back to the original document sometime after July 14, 2003 at added the asterisk in order to reference the Q&A that happened 6 months later. I wonder when they did that?

      Canadians care too...

      by jbalazs on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 05:30:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  great question (none)
        "Obviously, they had gone back to the original document sometime after July 14, 2003 at added the asterisk in order to reference the Q&A that happened 6 months later. I wonder when they did that?"

        And I believe I can answer that question.  According to ...the page was updated - and asterisk added - on October 3, 2003.

        •  Is there anything relevant about Oct 3, 2003? (none)
          In this saga? Does it correspond to the timing of the investigation? Was there some other event at that time that would have prompted the change?

          This is very interesting to me....

          Canadians care too...

          by jbalazs on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 06:01:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In answer to my own question..... (4.00)
            Here are 2 nuggets about Oct. 3, 2003 from the Plame Timeline

            October 2, 2003 The investigation is extended to the Departments of Defense and State. The DOJ sends letters to ask that any relevant information be preserved. ("Leak Inquiry Extends to Defense and State Departments, AP, Oct. 3, 2003)

            October 3, 2003 The White House gives its staff until 5pm on Tuesday, October 7 to turn over documents, phone logs, etc. relating to the leak. White House counsel estimates that it will take two weeks to review the collection and turn it over to the DOJ. ("Bush Unsure if Leaker Will Be Caught," AP, Oct. 7, 2003).

            Canadians care too...

            by jbalazs on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 06:09:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I have a request... (none)
    and I apologize if this is not the right forum, but it seems folks reading this diary would likely know how to do this (or be willing to...)

    Can we get video footage of the 16 words Bush said in the State of the Union address?  I'm curious to watch Bush's mannerism's when he knows that he's lying.  A few seconds before and after as well would be awesome.

    If it's out there, I'd love a link to just that portion of the speech.  Then I'd like to send an email to my friends with the subject "When Bush Lies..." and in the body say ...This is What It Looks Like."

    Maybe I'm tired.  Bad idea?


    by Bob on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:58:48 PM PDT

  •  Outstanding post (none)
    There's a lot here.  Thanks for taking the time to pull it together and put it down carefully.
  •  Wow, what a great posting and great catch (none)
    ... especially since the WaPo now affirms that the Fitzgerald investigation has expanded exactly to the issue of the uranium misinfo and how it got into the SOTU and blamed on the CIA. That's great research, and bravo for giving the researchers shared credit!

    Does Fitz really have the courage to bring the house down on him by indicting Rove, Libby and Rice (minimum), and possibly Cheney, Bush, Fleisher, Miller, etc.?

    The moment of announcing the grand jury results and any indictments will be THE formative moment for our political period.

    "When minds are once aroused, they are not easily appeased." -- Voltaire

    by Valtin on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:08:45 PM PDT

    •  Rest assured, (4.00)
      if Fitz doesn't, I do. The process of unraveling this story leaves no doubt in my mind what these zealots have done and will continue to do.

      It's time for people to stand up and say enough is enough. Waiting for the pendulum to swing back the other way isn't a solution. As I type this, innocent people are dying and the criminals sleep like babies, protected by our unwillingness to risk the status quo.

      We have the power. What we lack is courage and motivation.

      Only you can prevent dictatorships. ePluribus Media is accepting donations. Thanks.

      by Todd Johnston on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 10:06:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ... THE formative moment for our ... period (none)
      Indeed. I so badly want to believe there are good people in our governmental apparatus who will do the right thing. Maybe that's naive. But I want to believe he'll follow the evidence and take the course of action that binds him to his oath of office -- or his job responsibilities, whichever applies. - Framing / messaging thinktank

      by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:35:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What would make this more clear (4.00)
    First off, incredible work here!

    What I think disrupts the flow is that Rice's statements, upon which much of the narrative depends, are held until far down in the piece. It seems they are not revealed for almost dramatic effect, but because so much of the essay is specifically about what she said, the fact that her statements are not specifically discussed until late in the narrative is confusing. I kept having to stop myself and ask if I had missed something.

    All the pieces are here, though, and this is another solid piece of the story that demonstrates the lengths to which the Bush Administration went to try and sell the notion of the war.

  •  This is freakin' brilliant: (none)
    "Imagine that on Friday, July 11, 2003, Condoleezza Rice was handing out oranges in the aft section of Air Force One and someone absentmindedly stuffed one into his pocket. On Monday, that someone remembered the orange, pulled it from his pocket, and showed it to Ari Fleischer.

    And Fleischer, after glancing down at the orange, calmly looked up and with a straight face said, "That's not an orange. That's an apple."

    Today, more than two years later, it's still an apple."

    Mr. Todd Johnston (assuming you wrote this), I want to bear your children.


  •  By Their Works (4.00)
    So, if Fleischer did lie on the 14th, why choose such an obvious one? What would justify the risk? Fleischer's diversion seemed to be blunt-force trauma compared to the more common application of a surgically interpreted word or phrase.

    There's actually a very simple reason for this: Ari Fleischer used a blatant and obvious lie on the 14th because that's what Ari Fleischer always did.

    That's Ari's schtick. It's his special genius.

    McClellan gets up there and sputters around like a student surprised by a pop quiz that he hadn't studied for, spouting gibberish, misunderstanding questions deliberately, and avoiding, at all costs, saying anything at all; Ari Fleischer, on the other hand, always said something. His every sentence was spoken with perfect clarity and a deep, passionate certainty, even if it completely contradicted the sentence before (which it often did). On a good day, he could even contradict the first half of a sentence with its second half, all without batting an eye. He was the human embodiment of John Cleese's character in the old "Argument Clinic" sketch.

    (That's also one reason why the Press Corpse liked him so much more than they like Scotty: Every last thing he said may have been a total and complete lie, but at least he said things, which meant that they could actually write news articles with actual quotes; when Scotty burbles, however, nothing even the least bit usable ever comes out of his mouth — his job is to stand in front of the Press Corpse every last day and never, ever answer any question at all)

    •  contradict 1st half of sentence w/2nd half (none)
      So right on. Lying was his M.O. .... How this guy has been able to escape culpability is beyond me. ... Then again, no one currently in the Admin has been nailed with culpability. So why am I surprised.

      (not quite Ari-esque, but complex enough in construction as to obfuscate meaning...) ... When Jon Stewart had him on the Daily Show, I wish he'd been tough on the guy. But my guess is that Jon plays his cards so as to enable him to get Ari, Colin, Santorum, etc on his show to begin with. I like that Stewart remains respectful... And at least with Ari I recall he did have some push-back. But with Colin he offered polite rebuttal once and then pretty much thanked the man for being there.

      I think in truth I would rather not have him land them at all -- if the etiquette for doing so is to enable them to even attempt to rehabilitate selves in eyes of the distrusting viewer. - Framing / messaging thinktank

      by rhfactor on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:47:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perfect Example of CEOs (4.00)
    A very great diary and thanks to all for working at distilling the essence.

    It is common knowledge that "governments lie" but the thousand and one ways that this Administration turns information into disinformation is the perfect example what it means to have CEOs in charge.

    I have some experience and expertise in how it is done and what we've gotten is a lot worse than "making sausages."

    This administration leaves me longing for, at least, "an honest lie."

    Please let's never again fall for the idea that it would be a good idea to run the nation like a business!

  •  Maybe I'm just sleepy this morning (none)
    but the organization of this diary is very confusing, as it jumps around in time to create drama.

    However it is very interesting and recommended.  I think it would benefit from a more chronological timeline.

    "Every act of becoming conscious is an unnatural act." - Adrienne Rich

    by marjo on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 07:32:56 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this (4.00)
    and let's not forget the other forgery plagiary that Powell cited at the UN. Somehow, a plagiarized paper of a California grad student found its way from MI6 to Powell's UN speech. When it was found to be a plagiary, some in the media said it was plagiarized off the web. But one may suspect that it was actually fed to MI6 through the White House first so as to cleanse it. Why? Because the article was published in a journal run by the neocons, at least one of whom was both on the white house staff and a board member of the journal.

    "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

    by upstate NY on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 08:08:34 AM PDT

  •  All the President's Men - and Women (none)
    What started with Karl Rove and Scooter Libby appears to be spreading to Alberto Gonzales, Andrew Card, Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Condi Rice, Karen Hughes, Stephen Hadley, John Bolton and more.

    For the details, see:

    "All the President's Men - and Women."

  •  ePluribus, (none)
    Good job.

    Are you guys working with Fitzgerald, or just working parallel to him?

    He needs to see this diary.

    Torture. It's what's for dinars.

    by Joon on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 08:37:01 AM PDT

  •  Condi mentions the FIAB... "ask them"... (none)
    Excellent work to all those contributing.

    One item in the 11 July, 2003 Press Gaggle on AF1 that stands out as "curious", perhaps relating to the infamous forged docs emptywheel was chasing down.

    From the gaggle reference British Intell and Niger docs:

    Q What do we know about the source, or sources of the documents? Are they people -- again, without getting into anything that would compromise anybody or any operation -- are they people with a proven track record? Did that come up?

    DR. RICE: There are a couple of bodies looking at this, including the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and I think they'll be able to answer those questions. We don't generally get into that kind of issue.

    Hmmm... that's a bit out of place, isn't it? A slip-up? A bit out of their normal SOP or area of responsibility isn't it?

    The Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board official tells-you-nothing site doesn't say who was on the FIAB at the time of the 2003 SOTU, but MemoryMole says "the WH stopped releasing the FIAB memberships in mid-August 2002 (go figure), but MM does have this list from October 2001.

    According to Executive Order No. 12537 establishing the FIAB:

    The FIAB "shall have access to the full extent permitted by applicable law to all information necessary to carry out its duties in the possession of any agency of the Federal government."

    Perhaps their were others with yellow-cake on their shoes in late 2002, or dare we wonder if any of them has had to testify having had access to Wilson-Plame docs in the summer of 2003?

    Why did Condi say "they'll be able to answer those questions" refering to the FIAB?

    Curious.  Love those flustered moments of hers.

    At least we know where to go when the real investigations begins, in ernest, into this war of choice in Iraq... and there will be one, I still believe American democracy, while a bit dormant, it will awaken again.

    •  Oops... Pincus did ask the FIAB... (none)
      Lesson learned, complete third and fourth round of googles, to avoid giggles.

      In his December 24, 2003 article Walter Pincus did complete the loop on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board conclusions:

      The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board has concluded that the White House made a questionable claim in January's State of the Union address about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain nuclear materials because of its desperation to show that Hussein had an active program to develop nuclear weapons, according to a well-placed source familiar with the board's findings.

      The White House later said the claim should not have been made, after reports that the intelligence community expressed doubts it was true. After reviewing the matter for several months, the intelligence board -- chaired by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft -- has determined that there was "no deliberate effort to fabricate" a story, the source said. Instead, the source said, the board believes the White House was so anxious "to grab onto something affirmative" about Hussein's nuclear ambitions that it disregarded warnings from the intelligence community that the claim was questionable.

      The source said that at the time of the State of the Union speech, there was no organized system at the White House to vet intelligence, and the informal system that was followed did not work in the case of that speech. The White House has since established procedures for handling intelligence in presidential speeches by including a CIA officer in the speechwriting process.
      [emphasis added]

      Is the FIAB Report out there?

      Well, we knew Condi was fibbing about "we have a higher standard for what we put in presidential speeches", "but we have a high standard for the President's speeches" and "We don't make the President his own fact witness, we have a high standard for them".


      Also Pincus writes:

      That request came at the same time that members of the Senate intelligence panel asked the inspectors general of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department to investigate the matter. The House and Senate intelligence committees are looking into the episode as well.
      [emphasis added]

      Of course, Sen. Robert$ and Rep. Hoek$tra, now apparently doing his own amateur intell with that nut case Weldon, "tabled" that "Phase II" policy part of the WMD investigation.  For which they got virtually NO MSM coverage of doing.

      Need to at least get that more prominately into the historical record.

  •  It's incredible Todd... (none)
    You nailed it!!!

    irishsprite ;-)

    ...when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen. ~Thoreau

    by ddr711 on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 12:26:00 AM PDT

  •  Check out the SSCI on SOTU (none)

    I've finally gotten around to reading Ari's briefing in detail, and there's a passage that I think clarifies your point and makes it a lot more incriminating:

    Q The follow-up to that is, if I understand your reconstruction of events right, you have a CIA that is nervous about a specific reference in the Cincinnati speech, puts that specific back into the NIE three weeks later. You go ahead to the State of the Union and you get a general comment drawn from the NIE --

    MR. FLEISCHER: Based on additional information from the NIE.

    Q All that information is in the NIE. And then a week later you have Secretary Powell show up at the United Nations with no reference to it at all, because all of that information as described by the President is suspect. Are you telling us that the CIA changed their assessment during that time three times?

    MR. FLEISCHER: No. I'm saying to you that the CIA, if they had said, take out the reference to seeking uranium from Africa, it would have been taken out, not because it necessarily was inaccurate, because it wasn't conclusive enough to rise to the Presidential level.

    Now, Secretary Powell, of course --

    Q It was conclusive enough for the NIE.

    MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct. That's why it was written into the early drafts of the speeches, because it was conclusive enough for the NIE.

    Fleischer's argument, if valid, would refute my points (that it's not a big deal, given the operative current story, that the info got into the SOTU, since new information (the forged documents) appeared after the Cincinnati speech was delivered. But here's where Ari really plays fast and loose with dates. The NIE, as we know, preceded the Cincinnati speech. But Ari's agreeing with a journalist that it appeared several weeks later because it gives them an excuse to use Niger without having to rely on the forged documents.

    There's also an explanation, I think, for the Ari lie (that she was talking about Cincinnati the previous week). Here's the problem:

    To take another apple, the draft of the State of the Union speech -- according to Dr. Rice's briefing on the plane on Friday -- included references to quantity and place, and we were told that that was Niger, they were taken out.

    If you go to the SSCI report, you see there was a discrepancy between what the WINPAC director and Bob Joseph. This appears right after an explanation that all changes to SOTU were made because of sources and methods concerns (they didn't want to expose SISMI as the source of these documents).

    The WINPAC Director and the NSC Special Assistant disagreed, however, about the content of their conversation in some important respects. First, when the WINPAC Director first spoke to Committee staff and testified at a Committee hearing, he said that he had told the NSC Special Assistant to remove the words "Niger" and "500 tons" from the speech because of concerns about sources and methods. The NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that there never was a discussion about removing "Niger" and "500 tons" from the State of the Union and said that the drafts of the speech show that neigher "Niger" nor "500 tons" were ever in any of the drafts at all. (65)[my emphasis]

    So here you have two people, Condi on July 11, 2003 and the WINPAC director sometime that fall (probably) alluding to drafts of the SOTU that contained Niger and amounts. But Ari and Joseph later testify there were no drafts with Niger and amounts.

    Note the bolded language. It appears that the SSCI never got a look at the drafts of the SOTU (the WH didn't turn over all the documents SSCI requested). Which makes me suspect NSC is lying here. That there are drafts with Niger in it. And that they buried those drafts as a CYA.

    I think your find suggests they carried out this CYA the weekend of July 12-14. They made up the story that there were no drafts mentioning Niger and amounts. So you've got Condi blabbing about Niger in earlier drafts of the SOTU while in Africa. But then over the weekend, they decide to pretend Niger never appeared in the early drafts. So they prop up Ari there, on his last day, lying that Condi was talking about Cincinnati, not SOTU.

    I have a strong suspicion, btw, that Ari got immunity and is cooperating with Fitzgerald. Which means, if I'm right about this, then Fitzgerald knows they're hiding info about the SOTU.

    This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

    by emptywheel on Sat Jul 30, 2005 at 05:19:04 AM PDT

    •  I posted on this (none)
      Specifically, the possibility that this was all about hiding the contents of early SOTU drafts, here, on The Next Hurrah.

      This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

      by emptywheel on Sat Jul 30, 2005 at 08:11:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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