Saturday, July 12, 2003

Bush, poodle to get stories straight soon


President Bush will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House July 17 for dinner and talks on a wide range of issues.

It's surprising Blair feels it's safe to leave home. The Guardian's leader:

The government's insistence in the run-up to the war that Saddam Hussein was "continuing to work on developing nuclear weapons" was a crucial part of its case that Iraq should be disarmed, if necessary, by force. And the most striking evidence was its claim put forward in the September 24 dossier that Iraq was seeking "significant quantities of uranium from Africa". The prime minister told the house then that "if he (Saddam) were able to purchase fissile materiel illegally, it would only be a year or two (before Iraq acquired a 'usable nuclear weapon')". This image of the Iraqi tyrant shopping around for uranium was a compelling one: "Saddam 'could have nuclear bomb in year'", the Times headlined its defence editor's story the next day. The Sun summed it up more bluntly: "He's got'em ... Let's get him." The British assertion then received the ultimate accolade: it was quoted by President Bush in January in his state of the union address.

Nine months later, this claim has now come unstuck to the extent that, far more seriously than the famous "45 minutes" prediction or the much later dodgy dossier, it threatens to become a real smoking gun - not for Saddam Hussein but for Tony Blair.

The White House has now admitted that Mr Bush's information (which he sourced directly to the British) was wrong and should not have been used.

The British response, reiterated yesterday by Downing Street, is to insist that their evidence is based not on the forged documents but on entirely separate material from a foreign intelligence agency. If so, why has Britain been unable to convince Washington that the claim is genuine? Whitehall's answer that it cannot reveal the identity of its source - even to its US intelligence "cousins" - is simply unbelievable.

The whole business is, in the words of the foreign affairs committee, "very odd indeed"...

"Very odd indeed!" Love that British understatement.

The Brits say they have other evidence besides the forgeries, but can't produce it, and won't give a source... And the administration says it had other evidence too, and doesn't produce it, and won't give a source...

Maybe the source of the British "other evidence" is the administration, which in fact has got nothing; and the source of of the administration's "other evidence" is the Brits, and in fact they've got nothing. The doubles version of playing both ends against the middle...

Naah... It's too late at night... Just let me go now and wrap some tape round my skull ...