16 Words

16 WORDS….Remember the “16 words” in the 2003 State of the Union address? About how Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa? In the Scooter Libby trial today, the defense played a tape recording of a Bob Woodward interview with Richard Armitage and the subject came up. Here’s what Armitage said:

Armitage: We’re clean as a [expletive] whistle. And George [Tenet] personally got it out of the Cincinnati speech of the president.

….Woodward: It was taken out?

Armitage: Taken out. George said you can’t do this.

Woodward: How come it wasn’t taken out of the State of the Union then?

Armitage: Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the White House. Condi doesn’t like being in the hot spot. But she–

So that’s Armitage’s take: the director of the CIA tried to get the uranium nonsense taken out of the State of the Union but Condoleezza Rice didn’t have the backbone to stand up to the hardliners in the White House and get it excised. Chemical and biological WMD just wasn’t enough. They wanted everyone to think Saddam was working on nukes too. Evidence to the contrary simply didn’t matter.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription