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WASHINGTON – The White House denies reports that
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice plans to
resign over the State of the Union controversy.

“Absolutely not,” NSC spokesman Michael Anton told
WorldNetDaily yesterday.


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Condoleezza Rice with President Bush

Rice has come under fire for her office’s promotion –
in spite of CIA warnings – of flawed intelligence on
Iraq before the war, including a dubious charge that
Baghdad was shopping for uranium to make nuclear
bombs. President Bush made the allegation in his Jan.
28 speech to Congress.

Rice claims she was out of the loop at the time concerns were raised about the uranium reference.

“If there was a concern about the underlying
intelligence there, the president was unaware of that
concern and as was I,” she said in a July 11 press
briefing.

But documents emerged last week that cast doubt on her
explanation.

According to a memo sent to Rice on Oct. 6, the CIA
warned her the uranium charge suffered from a
“weakness in evidence.” CIA Director George Tenet also
tried to wave Rice’s deputy Steve Hadley off the
charge in several phone calls. On Oct. 7, Bush dropped
the allegation from a speech he delivered on Iraq in
Cincinnati. Three months later, it reappeared in his
State of the Union speech.

Rice has yet to explain the inconsistency presented by
the memo.

She also has maintained that the U.S. National
Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, on Iraq – a 90-page
Top Secret report prepared by the U.S. intelligence
community, and sent to the White House on Oct. 2 –
did not raise doubts about the uranium evidence.

“If there were doubts about the underlying
intelligence to that NIE, those doubts were not
communicated to the president, the vice president or
to me,” Rice said on July 11.

And in a June 8 ABC News interview, she said, “The
intelligence community did not know at that time or at
levels that got to us that there were serious
questions about this report.”

But her remarks are at odds with the facts.

The six intelligence agencies that prepared the NIE,
which was sent to Rice’s office, had so little faith
in the veracity of the uranium reports that they voted
unanimously to leave it out of the NIE’s conclusions,
or “key judgments,” which were recently declassified.
WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of them from the NSC.

In fact, they are conspicuously absent from the list
of evidence supporting the key judgment that “Saddam
[Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment
effort for Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program.”

Here is the full text of that conclusion from the NIE:

“Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest
in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain
high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors –
as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets,
high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools –
provide compelling evidence that Saddam is
reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for
Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that
reconstitution of the nuclear program is under way,
but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of
the program.)”

The only mention of Iraq’s alleged uranium procurement
is contained in the “discussion” section of the NIE,
and is replete with qualifiers – such as “reportedly”
and “probably” – as well as caveats – such as “We do
not know the status of this arrangement” and “We
cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring
uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.”

In an “annex” to the discussion section, the State
Department dismisses the claims of Iraqi pursuit of
uranium in Africa as “highly dubious.”

Still, the president used the allegation in his State
of the Union address.

Hadley, for his part, says he forgot the CIA had
raised questions about the allegation – in phone
conversations and in at least two memos – just three
months before the address. A top agency analyst also
argued over the use of the allegation with another
Rice aide, Bob Joseph, during the drafting of the
State of the Union.

The White House says it will not release the CIA memos
sent to Rice and Hadley.

“They are both classified,” Anton said. “I don’t
expect anything to be released.”

Rumors that Rice may take the blame for the uranium
controversy and step down first appeared last weekend
in U.S. News and World Report.

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Previous stories:

Nuke group exposed Niger fraud in ‘days’

State letter: Niger hoax main source of U.S., U.K. uranium claims

Bush had hands-on role revising disputed speech

Secret report undercuts Iraq connection to WTC

State, Energy ruled out tubes as part of Iraq program

Energy task force documents reveal Iraqi oil maps

Rumsfeld corrects testimony – twice

Pentagon miscounted MPs, translators needed for occupation

Marine general slams ‘Chicken Little’ news

Marine general admits Iraq intelligence flawed

No shock, no awe: It never happened

Saddam’s ‘gruesome’ Gulf war crimes documented

Related column:

Anatomy of a lie

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