BUSH'S STATE OF UNION USED FALSE ALLEGATIONS, WHITE
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration acknowledged for the first time Monday that President Bush should not have
claimed in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa to reconstitute its nuclear
statement was prompted by publication of a British parliamentary commission report that raised serious questions about the
reliability of British intelligence that was cited by Bush as part of his effort to convince Congress and the American people
that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction program were a threat to U.S. security.
British panel said it was unclear why the British government asserted as a ``bald claim'' that there was intelligence that
Iraq had sought to buy significant amounts of uranium in Africa. It noted that the CIA had already debunked this intelligence,
and questioned why an official British government intelligence dossier published four months before Bush's speech included
the claim as part of an effort to make the case for going to war against Iraq.
findings by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee undercut one of the Bush administration's main defenses for including
the allegation in the president's speech -- namely that despite the CIA's questions about the claim, British intelligence
was still asserting that Iraq had indeed sought to buy uranium in Africa.
about the British report, the administration released a statement that, after weeks of questioning about the president's uranium-purchase
claim, effectively conceded that intelligence underlying the president's statement was wrong.
all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the
State of the Union speech,'' a senior Bush administration official said Monday night in a statement authorized by the White
administration's statement capped months of turmoil over the uranium episode during which senior officials have been forced
to defend the president's remarks in the face of growing reports that they were based on faulty intelligence.
part of his case against Iraq, Bush said in his State of the Union speech last Jan. 28 that ``the British government has learned
that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.''
International Atomic Energy Agency told the U.N. Security Council in March that the uranium story -- which centered on documents
alleging Iraqi efforts to buy the material from Niger -- was based on forged documents. Although the administration did not
dispute the IAEA's conclusion, it launched the war against Iraq later that month.
subsequently emerged that the CIA the previous year had dispatched a respected former senior diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson, to
Niger to investigate the claim and that Wilson had reported back that officials in Niger denied the story. The administration
never made Wilson's mission public and questions have been raised over the past month over how the CIA characterized his conclusion
in its classified intelligence reports inside the administration.
report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee followed weeks of hearings by the panel into two intelligence dossiers
on Iraq's weapons programs -- one published in September and the other in January -- that the government of Prime Minister
Tony Blair used to justify supporting the administration in going to war against Iraq.
about the British government's handling of intelligence have mirrored many of the issues being raised in the United States.
But they have created a far greater political uproar in London.
response has been notably different than that of Congress. The House and Senate intelligence panels have moved cautiously,
with Democrats and Republicans divided over the necessity of full-blown public hearings into the administration's use of pre-war
intelligence. The House of Commons moved quickly to investigate the matter, with the Blair government battling accusations
that it misled Parliament and members of the Labor Party in persuading them to support an unpopular war.