NO, HE DIDN’T

Clifford D. May is getting tired of the “Bush Lied” meme that’s going around.

The president’s critics are lying. Mr. Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Niger. It is not true — as USA Today reported on page one Friday morning — that “tainted evidence made it into the President’s State of the Union address.” For the record, here’s what President Bush actually said in his SOTU: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Precisely which part of that statement isn’t true?

Good point. He continues:

Since Saddam never demonstrated — to the U.S., the U.N., or even to Jacques Chirac — that he had abandoned his nuclear ambitions, one has to conclude that he was still in the market for nuclear materials. And, indeed, many intelligence analysts long believed that he was trying to acquire such material from wherever he could — not just from Niger but also from Gabon, Namibia, Russia, Serbia, and other sources.

Maybe there was no reliable evidence to support the particular intelligence report saying that Saddam had acquired yellowcake (lightly processed uranium ore) from Niger. But the British claim was only that Saddam had sought yellowcake — not that he succeeded in getting a five-pound box Fedexed to his palace on the Tigris.

And is there even one member of the U.S. Congress who would say that it was on the basis of this claim alone that he voted to authorize the president to use military force against Saddam? Is there one such individual anywhere in America?

Indeed, while I’ve been critical of our lack of success finding WMD in Iraq, I don’t understand the corollary argument that’s going around that “therefore we now know that Saddam posed no threat to us.”

(Hat tip: Venomous Kate)

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.