Monday, July 14, 2003
What we do is that we put together a lot of documentation from all kinds of sources and give that to the speech writers as grist to write from...What was given to the speech writers was, in effect, data from various sources about the nuclear activities of Saddam Hussein. The National Intelligence Estimate had references to uranium acquisition, not only to the specific source, the specific case. And that was, I understand, given to the speech writers; they wrote it.
--Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday
The sharp eye of the Media Horse links to a facinating slide show available on WhiteHouse.gov of the President working on the State of the Union with speechwriters Matthew Scully, Mike Gerson and John McConnell on January 23, 2003.
Every word seems to have been closely examined by the President and his advisors.
From the BBC's Paul Reynolds, the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction" and the broad evidence which has emerged about them:
1. "Iraq has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents."
No evidence of Iraq's useable capability has been found in terms of manufacturing plants, bombs, rockets or actual chemical or biological agents, nor any sign of recent production.
A mysterious truck has been found which the CIA says is a mobile biological facility but this has not been accepted by all experts.
2. "Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles... He is determined to retain these capabilities."
He may well have attached great importance to the possession of such weapons but none has been found. The meaning of the word "capability" is now key to this.
If the US and UK governments can show that Iraq maintained an active expertise, amounting to a "programme", they will claim their case has been made that Iraq violated UN resolutions.
3. "Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of shells, bombs, sprayers and missiles."
Nothing major has been found so far. There was one aircraft adapted with a sprayer but its capability was small.
4. "Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons... Uranium has been sought from Africa."
The UN watchdog the IAEA said there was no evidence for this up to the start of the war and none has been found since. It is possible, though, that a case could be made from a shopping list of items needed for such a programme.
These include vacuum pumps, magnets, winding and balancing machines - all listed in the British dossier. No details about these purchasing attempts have been provided.
A claim that aluminium tubes were sought for this process was not wholly accepted by the British assessment though it was by the American and has subsequently not been proved.
The uranium claim is currently under question, though the British Government stands by its allegation.
5. "Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the Scud ballistic missile."
No Scuds have been found. The British said Iraq might have up to 20, the CIA said up to 12.
6. "Iraq's current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons."
That may have been the case but direct evidence from serving Iraqi officers will be needed to prove it.
7. "The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons (chemical and biological) within 45 minutes of a decision to do so."
The 45 minute claim is currently under question. It is said to come from "a single source" probably a defector or Iraqi officer. It has not been proven.
8. "Iraq... is already taking steps to conceal and disperse sensitive equipment."
This is a focus of the current American and British investigation being carried out in Iraq by the Iraq Survey Group. One Iraqi scientist has come forward to say that he hid blueprints of centrifuges under his roses but that was in 1991.
If a pattern of concealment can be established, it would add to the credibility of the allegations that Iraq wanted to defy the UN.
9. "Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programme are well funded."
Evidence will be needed from serving Iraqi officials backed up by documents. Again, if a pattern of funding can be established, a case against Iraq could be made but if the actual programmes did not exist, was the funding of much use and in any case, how much was it?
President tells First Dog, Spot, that he gave a speech cleared by the intelligence services.
Bush Lands on Aircraft Carrier Abraham Lincoln Again
Declares major news coverage of his lying in State of the Union address over.
Photos: Eric Draper, Reuter's