Tuesday, July 22, 2003

# Posted 8:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE DAILY SCAPEGOAT: Now that George Tenet has declined the honor, NSC #2 Stephen Hadley has become the administration's whipping boy du jour. According to today's WaPo,
Hadley, in a rare on-the-record session with reporters, said that he had received two memos from the CIA and a phone call from agency Director George Tenet last October raising objections to an allegation that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore from Africa to use in building nuclear weapons.

As a result, Hadley said the offending passage was excised from a speech on Iraq the president gave in Cincinnati last Oct. 7. But Hadley suggested that details from the memos and phone call had slipped from his attention as the State of the Union was being put together.
Once again, the administration's latest apology raises more questions then it answers. Did Hadley simply forget that Saddam hadn't sought to buy uranium from Niger? Or did the final draft of the SotU get okayed by the NSC without Hadley having read it?

In addition, the removal of the uranium allegation from the Oct. 7 speech suggests that Rice herself was aware of the CIA objections. Unless, that is, no one ever explained to Rice why such an important allegation was taken out of a nationally televised speech. Yet presuming Rice was aware, did she also "forget" about the CIA's objections when it came time to draft the SotU?

While I don't claim any special expertise on the inner working of the Bush White House, it sure as hell seems like everyone is trying very hard to protect Condi Rice from taking the fall for Uranium-gate. First of all, I seriously doubt that either Tenet or Hadley offered his apology without first informing the President of his intention to do so. And given that Condi had to publicly embarrass Tenet before he offered his apology, one gets the sense that Tenet was ordered to apologize rather offering to do so of his own free will.

Now, is it any more likely that Hadley offered to go public of his own free will? I doubt it. If he were really in the wrong, he should've said so up front and not let Rice force Tenet to talk the fall (albeit temporarily). According to White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, the President
"has full confidence in his national security adviser, his deputy national security adviser and the director of central intelligence."
Translation: Hadley won't have to pay for his mistakes, Tenet will get away with withdrawing his apology, and no one expects Rice to apologize at all.

Also according to Bartlett, the 16 words survived the drafting process because "the process failed". Ah, yes, the passive voice. The last refuge of the scoundrel. Perhaps Bartlett will tell us next that "mistakes were made".

PLUS: Josh Marshall fisks Bill Kristol's defense of the adminstration. Marshall's criticism of Kristol is solid, but Kristol's attack on the Democratic response to Uranium-gate is also quite damning.
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