In the audio link below, you can hear me roll audio of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday night’s News Hour. Dr. Rice, once again, took the hit for these 16 words in President Bush’s State of the Union speech. I continue to be amazed at the fallout, but the fallout didn’t come from Bush’s 100% true statement that Bush tried to buy uranium “from Africa.” We know Saddam tried to buy yellowcake from three nations other than Niger, and shopped for the stuff in Niger in the 80s. The fallout comes from the White House’s unnecessary apology!
Gwen Ifill asked Dr. Rice if she felt any personal failure or responsibility. She responded that she did, and that in the future they’d examine speeches more carefully. Then she said something key on the overall Iraq case: ‘[W]hat I feel really most responsible for is that this has detracted from the very strong case that the president has been making. There are people who want to say that somehow the president’s case was not strong, the intelligence case was not strong. I read a lot of intelligence cases over my almost 20 years now in this field, and this was a very strong case.’
In President George W. Bush’s morning press conference – which the press uniformly panned as an abysmal failure, claiming he was too uptight, defensive and unable to handle adversity, etc. – the questions were rude, obnoxious and disrespectful. Bush should’ve answered Kate Snow’s question on holding Dr. Rice accountable this way: ‘Why didn’t I hold her accountable? Because there was nothing to be accountable for. I don’t hold my staff responsible for issues created by my political opponents.’ That’s the answer to this rambling question which basically amounts to, ‘Why haven’t you fired Condoleezza Rice?’ That’s what ‘accountable’ means.
Gwen Ifill made the false claim that there ‘wasn’t enough of a case to be made on this nuclear option.’ Rice corrected her. ‘The key judgments in the NIE are quite the opposite from that. It says, for instance, if left unchecked Saddam Hussein would possibly have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade…. Five of the six intelligence agencies believed that he had an active program of reconstitution of his nuclear weapons program. And one has to remember that this is against the context of someone who had in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, been proven to be much closer to a nuclear weapon than the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought.’ So what did the administration do? They ‘connected the dots,’ just as the Democrats and their partisan lackeys in the press insisted they should have done before 9/11.