Thursday, July 17, 2003

I was listening to the radio today and nearly fell over when I heard Tony Blair defending the Niger uranium claim:

"We know in the 1980s that Iraq purchased from Niger over 270 tons of uranium, and therefore it is not beyond the bounds of possibility let's at least put it like this that they went back to Niger again. That is why I stand by entirely the statement that was made in the September dossier."

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility . . . that they went back to Niger again. This remark drew gasps from British Members of Parliament, and I can see why. We're witnessing the public collapse of Tony Blair's reputation, and his lies to try to extricate himself from his problem are as bad as the lies of the Bush Administration. He dragged his county kicking and screaming into a disastrous and illegal war because it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger. Pathetic. Actually, even with this extraordinary weak test, the Niger uranium story is beyond the bounds of possibility:

  1. The Niger uranium industry is completely controlled by a French consortium, and all its production is accounted for by the French and is operated under the authority of the French atomic energy commission. Besides Ambassador Wilson (the Bushites are viciously trying to smear Wilson and ruin the CIA career of his wife - I keep asking: How much abuse of its credibility and its agents will the CIA take?), it now turns out that the Americans also sent Marine Gen. Carlton W. Fulford Jr. to Niger, who also confirmed that Niger's yellowcake was kept secure by the French consortium.

  2. Saddam would have required tons of the yellowcake to have manufactured the ingredients for a bomb, and it would have been impossible to divert any yellowcake from the Niger production, let alone tons. In fact, Iraq already had 500 tons of uranium, portions of which came from Niger, so it is difficult to see why Saddam would want to take the additional risk of buying more.

  3. The yellowcake itself is just the raw ingredient for producing the fuel for a nuclear bomb, and would have required a large factory to convert the tons required into bomb material. There is not a shred of evidence that Saddam had such a factory. In fact, the International Atomic Energy Agency was fully aware of and monitoring Saddam's nuclear facilities, including the famous one at Tuwaitha which the Americans allowed to be looted, and knew that the uranium that Saddam did have was not a problem because he lacked the facilities to process it. We have to always remember that the whole context of this debate was that the United States and Britain could not afford to wait for the weapons inspectors to do their work, as the United States and Britain were in imminent danger of attack (in the case of Britain, in danger of attack in 45 minutes). How was Saddam going to build a nuclear bomb without building an enrichment plant, and how was he going to build an enrichment plant under the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency?

  4. Iraq has uranium itself, and would have had no need to buy it from Niger, particularly if such purchases would lead to the risk of being caught in violation of sanctions (prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had attempted to enrich its indigenous uranium at the Tuwaitha plant).

  5. Niger vehemently denies that it tried to sell any nuclear material to Iraq. Prime Minister Hama Hamadou has said, accurately:

    "Niger cannot sell its uranium to whoever it likes: it has neither the technological means, nor the military capability, nor the ability to do so."

  6. Blair, obviously flailing around, claimed that the French were another of his mysterious sources for the Niger story (so mysterious, that Blair won't even tell the International Atomic Energy Agency, thus arguably subjecting the world to the danger of not having this issue of world security investigated - of course, there is really no danger because we all now know that Blair's mysterious other sources are fictitious). Besides the obvious facts that the French would have known that the Niger story was impossible, and they would have hardly given Blair evidence to support a war they were against, they have now expressly denied being a source for Blair's lies.

Since the Niger connection is beyond the bounds of possibility, Blair's claims that he has other sources for his claims, sources which he cannot reveal, must be seen for lies as well. Similarly, American claims of having other evidence for African sources of uranium must also be lies. Bush's 'darn good' intelligence can't be so 'darn good', because, simply speaking, it is impossible. The reason the Niger story ended up in the State of the Union address is explained by Walter Pincus:

"By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa - although now almost entirely disproved - was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier."

Someone is going to have to walk the plank for this. Blair seems to suggest Cheney (and note the case of the Niger embassy perfume robbery later in the story!), but as Cheney is the real power in the United States, and the pick of the Powers That Be to run the United States, I think Cheney would be the last to go. My guess for the American fall guy would be Wolfowitz (or here or here), who appears to be in the process of being prepared for the ritual sacrifice. He's clearly 'in the loop' and can be held responsible for the whole mess (the irony is that it is quite possible that he, unlike Cheney and Rumsfeld and Feith and Shulsky, had nothing to do with it). He's a neocon, which would allow the Bush Administration to pin the blame for the whole Iraq debacle on the neocons, and Wolfowitz's firing would then serve as proof that the neocons were punished for their arrogance. Wolfowitz is an egghead with a big mouth, and is the main source for the claims of how easy the attack would be and how few troops would be required and how inexpensive it would all be. If they remove Wolfowitz, they could depict Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice as victims of this evil intellectual, but leave all the rest of the Zionist neocons in place to plan the attacks on Iran and Syria after Bush wins the next election. Unfortunately for Tony the poodle, he has left himself open as the only obvious British fall guy.