This Changes Everything

Atrios points to Oliver Willis, who remind us:

Condi June 8, Meet the Press: “We did not know at the time – no one knew at the time, in our circles – maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.”

Today’s news:

“There was even some discussion on that specific sentence, so that it reflected better what the CIA thought and the speech was cleared,” Rice said.

“Some specifics about amount and place were taken out…with the change in that sentence, the speech was cleared.”

What are we talking about here? CBS News:

CIA officials warned members of the President’s National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.

The White House officials responded that a paper issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: “Iraq has … sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that’s how it was delivered.

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Mr. Bush said.

The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.

Put the pieces together. They changed the speech to say “The British government has learned,” AFTER the CIA said the story was bogus. But on June 8, Rice said on Meet the Press, “We did not know at the time – no one knew at the time, in our circles – maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.”

We now know that June 8 statement was a flat-out lie. As far as I know this is the first instance of indisputable documentation of a flat-out, indisputable lie on the part of the Bush administration on this issue. This changes everything. This is no longer a “He said, She said” dispute. It is now a matter of how much of this was a lie, a plot to influence the 2002 elections, a plot to manipulate data to gain support for the conquest of a country?