Rich at war with the truth

NY Sun Editorial:

Those who charge President Bush and Vice President Cheney with lying to get America involved in the war in Iraq, as the New York Times columnist Frank Rich did yesterday, have a special obligation to get the truth correct themselves. It's one thing for Mr. Rich to disagree with the decision to go to war in Iraq and to blame Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney for the decision. It's another for Mr. Rich to accuse our elected leaders of misleading the country while the columnist himself goes about misleading readers of The New York Times.

Mr. Rich's New York Times column yesterday refers to Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address with the "bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium." Those words were, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." But those 16 words are neither bogus nor fictitious. They were and are true. A July 2004 report of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported that an Iraqi delegation visited Niger in June of 1999 and met with Niger's then-prime minister, Ibrahim Mayaki. The committee relayed that Mr. Mayaki said the meeting was about "expanding commercial relations" between the two countries, which Mr. Mayaki interpreted to mean "that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales."

A July 2004 report by the British government's Butler Commission found that Mr. Bush's State of the Union comment was "well-founded." As the Commission put it, "It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible. ... The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it."

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Mr. Rich's New York Times column yesterday accuses Messrs. Bush and Cheney of "falsely claiming they've been exonerated by two commissions that looked into prewar intelligence - neither of which addressed possible White House misuse and mischaracterization of that intelligence." Yet two major reports that looked into the matter of the administration and intelligence did exonerate the president. Here is a quote from the report of the bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission: "The Commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. As we discuss in detail in the body of our report, analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."

Here is a quote from the report of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities." Yet, in contravention of those conclusions - reached by groups that included Democrats such as Senators Edwards, Levin, Wyden, and Durbin and Clinton administration officials Lloyd Cutler, William Studeman, and Walter Slocombe - Mr. Rich speaks of "the administration's deliberate efforts to suppress or ignore intelligence that contradicted its Iraq crusade."

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There is much more. Rich and the antiwar left attempt to rewrite history to fit their bias. Thankfully the NY Sun is willing to wade through their drivel and tell the truth.

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