The British government is unhappy that the Bush administration has distanced itself from the State of the Union claim that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Today's Telegraph reports that the British insist that their original conclusion was correct
The CIA secretly dispatched a US envoy, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger in 2002 to investigate the British claim. He reported to the CIA there was no evidence to support the British intelligence, but Mr Straw said that the report - which had not been shared with London by Washington - in fact had confirmed that a delegation from Iraq did go to Niger in 1999.
One Foreign Office official said: "Niger has two main exports - uranium and chickens. The Iraqi delegation did not go to Niger for chickens."
And I see that Condoleezza Rice put this issue to rest on FoxNews Sunday:
First of all, it is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa. This was a part of a very broad case that the president laid out in the State of the Union and other places.Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 13, 2003 09:16 AM
But the statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that. Not only was the statement accurate, there were statements of this kind in the National Intelligence Estimate. And the British themselves stand by that statement to this very day, saying that they had sources other than sources that have now been called into question to back up that claim. We have no reason not to believe them.
What we have said is that we have a higher standard for presidential speeches than just, "Was this accurate?" ... We want it to be based for the president on the firmest possible intelligence, and that's why we go through the clearance process.