Yesterday morning a
few of the usual suspects pointed to the National Intelligence Estimate and said, "Look, it has the claims about Iraqi uranium purchases in Africa.
End of story. The Agency gave the White House bad intelligence, period."
Today the White House has declassified and released selected portions of the NIE, including a claim, according to this AP article, that there was "compelling evidence" that Saddam was trying to reconstitute his nuclear program and that "if left unchecked...probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." It also cited unsubstantiated reports that the Iraqis might be trying to buy uranium in Africa.
Now, first of all, I think we need to know more about just what the NIE said on this issue, in its totality. But let's assume that it said it more or less flat out.
Even if that's true, it still seems like the CIA made subsequent and multiple attempts -- some successful, some not -- to keep the president from making this claim publicly because they had very real doubts about whether it was even true. The NIE may give the White House something to hang its hat on but only as a debating point, no more.
If the White House were interested in getting the story right, rather than just getting it scary, you'd think they would have paid attention to the repeated messages from the CIA saying, in essence, "Yes, we know it's mentioned in the NIE. But we're now not so sure it's true. The president shouldn't say it."
They kept pushing and pushing even after Agency personnel seem to have made their views on the evidence pretty clear.
Like the female employee and her grabby boss, how many times does she have to say 'no' before the behavior becomes inappropriate?