These are the reasons I question what Bush knew and when he knew it. As I have said before, I believe Bush honest felt that we would find WMDs in Iraq. But, if he knew that the information he presented to the American people as fact was known to be faulty (or even highly suspected to be faulty), then yes, he did mislead us. In the world of international diplomacy and domestic credibility, the ends do not justify the means. Or, at least, the ends must closely mirror the means. There was a time in our history when an American president spoke, the rest of the world accepted it as fact. We have lost that, and it is as important to the fight against terrorism that we regain it as boots on the ground. Like it or not, we need the rest of the world on our side.
French Told CIA of Bogus Intelligence
By Tom Hamburger, Peter Wallsten and Bob Drogin, Times Staff Writers
PARIS — More than a year before President Bush declared in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear weapons material in Africa, the French spy service began repeatedly warning the CIA in secret communications that there was no evidence to support the allegation.
The previously undisclosed exchanges between the U.S. and the French, described in interviews last week by the retired chief of the French counterintelligence service and a former CIA official, came on separate occasions in 2001 and 2002.
The French conclusions were reached after extensive on-the-ground investigations in Niger and other former French colonies, where the uranium mines are controlled by French companies, said Alain Chouet, the French former official. He said the French investigated at the CIA's request.
Chouet's account was "at odds with our understanding of the issue," a U.S. government official said. The U.S. official declined to elaborate and spoke only on condition that neither he nor his agency be named.
However, the essence of Chouet's account — that the French repeatedly investigated the Niger claim, found no evidence to support it, and warned the CIA — was extensively corroborated by the former CIA official and a current French government official, who both spoke on condition of anonymity.