SHIT, MEET FAN….If Josh Marshall and Chris Nelson are to be believed, the shit is about to hit the proverbial fan this week. After two weeks of softening up George Bush’s credibility via African uranium and the ever changing explanations for it, we’re now set for brand new battles on two fronts:

  • First, Josh links to a UPI story saying that the congressional 9/11 report, due to be released tomorrow, will show that we knew all along that Saddam Hussein had no connection to al-Qaeda:

    Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official’s statement.

    Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: “I do … There’s no connection, and that’s been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden’s terrorist followers.”

    ….”The reason this report was delayed for so long — deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created — is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over … before (it) came out,” he said.

    “Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration.”

    George Bush, of course, repeatedly said otherwise. In his State of the Union address, for example, he said “Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.”

    This is no minor “16 words.” The al-Qaeda connection was key to Bush’s case, and if it turns out that he knew it was dubious in the extreme but kept repeating it anyway, he’s in big trouble.

    UPDATE: UPI has since retracted this story.

  • Second, Josh reprints a few bullet points from today’s Nelson Report suggesting that the CIA is about ready to declare war on Bush and the entire neocon establishment:

    The Iraq/Niger debacle is but one of “a whole series of stories which are ready to break”, a source told us today, adding, “I’ve never seen such hostility and disdain as now being expressed between the White House and the CIA. Never?”

    ….Three weeks ago, this source speculated that it would be “difficult” for Bush to fire the senior officials responsible, for obvious reasons, since they would include Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice, at a minimum, and that Tenet seemingly had so ingratiated himself at the personal level, he could escape punishment.

    — today, while no one wanted to speculate about Rummy and Cheney, in the absence of new disclosures, disparate Administration sources confirm that it is “generally accepted” that Tenet will be fired from the CIA, if only because of what he started last week.

    Apparently the neocons aren’t taking this lying down. Nelson says that if Tenet is fired, they have a whole bunch of folks they’d like to see moved into senior positions.

Stay tuned.