The White House is coming under increasing scrutiny over why President Bush told Congress and the nation in January that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from the African nation of Niger to rebuild its nuclear program.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that months earlier the CIA successfully removed references to the alleged sale from a presidential speech because the intelligence could not be substantiated.
But somehow the alleged sale made its way back into the President’s State of the Union address when Bush said “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
The Post reports CIA Director George Tenet personally argued the language not be included in Bush’s October address in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile the White House had been blaming the CIA for failing to remove Bush’s statement from drafts of his speech. On Friday Tenet took blame for the misstatement and admitted those 16 words should not have been included in an unusual public apology.
Despite the mounting evidence that Bush misled the public, top White House officials yesterday defended Bush’s statement.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the President’s statement was “indeed accurate. The British government did say that.”
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Bush’s statement was “technically correct.”
While the White House is saying Bush never lied, the London Independent yesterday in an article titled “20 Lies About the War” reported that the Iraq-Niger deal was one of just many falsehoods put forth by the Bush and Blair administration.
Among the lies:
Interim Iraqi Gov’t Created, U.S. Retains Veto Power
A 25-member interim governing council of Iraqis met for the first time yesterday after being assembled in part by the U.S.-led occupation administration in Iraq. The body will be given limited power and the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority will have veto power over all decisions made by the Iraqi council.
The council includes 13 Shi’a Muslims, five Sunni Muslims, five Kurds, one Christian and one Turkmen. The Guardian of London reports the composition of the council may make it the most representative government in Iraqi history. Former exiles hold a slight majority on the board. But only two of the council members are women. One woman in Iraq told the Guardian, “Men made a mess of this country. We should have at least half of the council.”
The body in its first official act yesterday banned all holidays connected to Saddam Hussein’s rule and declared April 9, the day Baghdad fell, as a national holiday. Among the banned holidays is today, July 14, which marked the fall of the monarchy.
The Iraqi council is deeply divided over the U.S. occupation. The New York Times reports that only Ahmed Chalabi of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress expressed gratitude toward the U.S. and Britain for removing Hussein.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday said more U.S. troops may be needed in Iraq because of the organized resistance against the U.S. occupation. For the first time, Rumsfeld admitted the guerilla attacks were being coordinated on a regional, if not national level.
In the latest attack on U.S. troops, one U.S. soldier was killed and six were injured this morning after a rocket-propelled grenade hit a military convoy in Baghdad. In a separate attack, at least one U.S. soldier was seriously wounded in an attack near the Baghdad airport.
Meanwhile the Washington Post reports that defense and congressional aides now believe the cost of the war and occupation of Iraq could reach $100 billion this year. This is substantially higher than anticipated at the war’s outset.
According to the website costofwar.com the U.S. has already spent $67 billion an amount that could have paid for the salaries of 1.3 million schoolteachers or provided health insurance for 29 million children.
Human rights groups are condemning a decision by the Belgian government to withdraw a law that gave Belgian courts the power to try any war crimes case in the world.
Recently re-elected Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said the law would be scrapped and a new bill would be put forth that only covers cases involving Belgian citizens or residents.
The U.S. had heavily pressured Belgium to rescind the law. Washington recently warned that it would block further funding for Nato’s new headquarters in Belgium unless the law was thrown out.
Among those targeted with war crime charges under the Belgian law include Israeli Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon, President George Bush and U.S. General Tommy Franks.
Biotech giant Monsanto is suing a small milk producer in Maine, Oakhurst, that advertises its milk contains no artificial growth hormones. Monsanto claims the advertisements give the public the impression artificial growth hormones are not safe. And Monsanto claims that by doing this Okhurst is directly disparaging Monsanto’s product Posilac, the only artificial growth hormone on the market.
Monsanto boasts the hormones help cows produce up to 15 percent milk, but there are concerns of the effect on the hormones on both the cows and humans. The president of Oakhurst responded by saying, “We ought to have the right to let people know what is and is not in our milk.”
The New York Times is reporting that the unemployment rate among African-Americans is rising at a pace not seen since the mid-1970s in part due to massive layoffs in the manufacturing sector. Since President Bush took office over 2.6 million jobs have been lost in the country. The Times reports that 90 percent of these jobs have been in the manufacturing sector.
In other economic news, The New York Times reports teenagers face the worst summer job market in 55 years.
The former superintendent of the Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. John Dallager, has been demoted from a three star general to a two star general in the wake of a rape scandal crisis on the Academy’s Colorado Springs campus. Female cadets report they were repeatedly pressured by school administrators not to report rapes and other forms of sexual abuse.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has found that only 10 percent of Americans believe new changes to the media ownership laws will have a positive effect. The FCC recently passed new rules that allow television and newspaper companies to greatly consolidate.
A new poll released in the British newspaper The Daily Mirror today concluded that two-thirds of people in Britain think prime minister Tony Blair misled them when he made his argument for attacking Iraq.
Researchers found that of those who feel misled, 39 percent believe Prime Minister Tony Blair did it inadvertently. But 27 percent surveyed think Blair knowingly misled the public.
The poll surveyed more than 1,000 adults in Britain this month.