July 10, 2004

Is That Yellowcake I Smell, Or Just Your Pants Burning?

Or maybe a little bit of both? Seems that perhaps Joseph Wilson was a little less than truthful when passing along information regarding Niger's alleged sale of "yellowcake" uranium to Iraq.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question.

Why does this matter? Well, as Lorie Byrd points out on PoliPundit, this was really the drop of blood in the water that began the "Bush lied" frenzy.
After Joe Wilson wrote his op/ed piece declaring the uranium story false, the President said he regretted it was included in the SOTU. The Democrats, like sharks in a sea of red, declared that Bush had admitted he lied. That was all it took. From that point on, the "Bush lied" mantra was repeated daily, and when WMD was not found in significant quantities in Iraq, the volume of those chanting it grew deafening.

While it doesn't mitigate other intelligence failures, I think it does illustrate the tendency to rush to judgment when considering things political.

Many of those who have opposed this administration looked upon Bush's "apology" for including the yellowcake in his SOTU address as some kind of admission of guilt. Can we expect apologies from them if this uranium story turns out to have some validity? Even begrudging acceptance would be a start.

UPDATE: Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn, as always, says it better than I.

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