“This may be the first time in recent history that a President knowingly misled the American people during the State of the Union. . . . It was not a mistake. It was no oversight and it was no error.”
So said Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe last July in reference to these 16 words spoken by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
McAuliffe’s excuse for attacking the President was a July 6, 2003, op-ed in the New York Times by former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who claimed that his own brief investigation in Niger in 2002 disproved the President’s words. Wilson pompously wrote: “I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” (The arguments Wilson presented in this op-ed had been previewed in a June 12, 2003, Washington Post story for which Wilson was the source.)
The liberal media invited Wilson on television more than 30 times, and Democratic politicians went into a demagogic frenzy seeking to convince Americans the President lied the country into war.
Calling for an investigation, then-presidential candidate Howard Dean said: “We need to find out what the President knew and when he knew it.” John Kerry said of the President: “He misled every one of us.”
Well, the Democrats got their investigation–in fact, they got two of them. But they didn’t get the answer they wanted.
In the past week, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and the British government released separate reports on pre-war intelligence. Far from showing that the Bush Administration tried to “twist” facts, the reports provide evidence Joe Wilson twisted facts.
“It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999,” said the Brits. “The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.”
The Senate report says that on Sept. 24, 2002, the CIA instructed the White House that it could say: “[W]e also have intelligence that Iraq has sought large amounts of uranium and uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, from Africa.” The report concludes that “no Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts or officials told the National Security Council (NSC) to remove the ’16 words'” from the State of the Union address.
The President said what the CIA told him was true.
The Senate report also concluded there was no evidence any administration official “attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities.”
It wasn’t President Bush who misled America. It was partisan Democrats, who risked national morale during war to advance their partisan interest.