April 01, 2006

Oh what a tangled web.

In an excellent piece in the National Journal, Murray Waas reports that, before the invasion of Iraq, Dubya was warned warned several times that Saddam Hussein's much ballyhooed purchases of high-strength aluminum tubes likely didn't have anything to do with building nuclear weapons. Those aluminum tubes were cited publicly by both Dubya and Secretary of State Colin Powell as part of the reason why toppling Saddam Hussein was necessary.

Saddam's aluminum tubes

The sinister aluminum tubes.
[Undated photo from US Department of State]

[Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true. The CIA had sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger in 2002 to investigate the purported procurement efforts by Iraq; he reported that they were most likely a hoax.

Just this material would be enough to make Waas' story important, but there's more. According to Waas, the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame — who's married to Joseph Wilson — was part of a larger scheme to keep the public from knowing that one of the prez's main rationales for going to war had been challenged — at least until after Dubya could be re-elected.

It's a complicated story and Waas' piece is dense, but it's essential reading. So go read it.

If you have trouble connecting all the dots, you should also look at the BooMan's annotated version of the Waas piece over here.

Posted by Magpie at April 1, 2006 02:06 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

Waas and Boo Man (spook)

'was part of a larger scheme to keep the public from knowing'

Posted by: anonymous at April 2, 2006 10:16 AM