Howling at the Press

HOWLING AT THE PRESS….Today, Bob Somerby manages to write an entire column without once mentioning Al Gore’s treatment in the 2000 campaign. On the other hand, he does continue his odd crusade against the press for making a big deal out Uranium-Gate:

[David Ignatius’] reporting tends to suggest that Bush?s 16-word statement may have been accurate. That is, it may be true that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

We have cited this possibility many times, and many mailers have misread our claim. We have never said that Bush?s claim was ?technically accurate;? indeed, we?re not sure what that claim would mean in this context. (When Bush said ?learned,? he vouched for the accuracy of the Brit intel. We were among the first to make this pedestrian point, although readers continue to lecture us on it.) No, we haven?t said that the statement was ?technically accurate;? we have said that the statement may simply be true. That is, it may be true that the Iraqi government was trying to acquire uranium in Africa.

What to say about this? Of course it might be true, but that’s not the point. We now know that George Bush’s own head of intelligence sent multiple memos and made at least one call to the White House last October telling them that the claim wasn’t true. That’s a lot of effort, and Tenet must have been pretty serious about this to follow it up repeatedly and in writing.

It’s really not plausible that over the course of three months everyone who saw those memos just forgot about them, and this means that, regardless of whether the claims eventually turn out to be true, the White House decided to put them in the State of the Union address despite the fact that at the time the CIA felt there was nothing to them.

Why did the president ignore the advice of his own head of intelligence? Why did he feel that it was so important to include a paragraph about nuclear weapons in the speech, even though the CIA thought there was nothing to it?

Why?