SADDAM’S NUKES….When George Bush touted aluminum tubes and uranium from Africa as firm evidence of Iraqi nuclear ambitions in his 2003 State of the Union address, was he aware that the intelligence community had significant doubts about both of these items? Writing in the National Journal, Murray Waas claims there is documentary evidence that George Bush did know this ? and that Karl Rove was worried about the consequences if this ever became public.

In response, Greg Sargent lays out a sort of grand unified theory of the Valerie Plame affair that tries to explain a central question: why did Scooter Libby (and possibly others) lie to the grand jury about their role in outing Plame’s identity to reporters? After all, what they did probably wasn’t even illegal. So why take such a dangerous risk?

It is entirely plausible that Bush advisers calculated that if it came out that they?d outed Plame, Congress would have been forced by the resulting firestorm to run a far more aggressive investigation of Bush?s pre-war deceptions….

White House officials, including Bush himself, withheld critical information it had about doubts over supposed evidence of Saddam’s nuke ambitions in order to better make the case for war. Then they subsequently discovered that hard evidence existed of that duplicity. Then, anxious that this evidence might surface before the 2004 reelection, they engaged in a relentless campaign to cover up what really happened during the Iraq run-up and to prevent an aggressive congressional investigation until after the election.

Read the whole thing to get a better understanding of Greg’s theory. I’m not sure if I buy it or not, but it does fit my own theory that Saddam’s supposed nuke program was by far the most critical part of the prewar WMD argument and Bush’s team was hyper-sensitive about keeping it credible. Back in 2004, even hardened Bush supporters probably would have turned on him if they had believed he consciously deceived them about this.