Monday, December 01, 2003

The national intelligence estimate and Cheney's nuclear weapons

The infamous October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate prepared by the CIA, which Cheney referred to as the 'gold standard', specifically stated that Saddam did not have nuclear weapons. On NBC's Meet the Press of Sunday, March 16, 2003, Cheney responded to the question "And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?" by stating (my emphasis):

"I disagree, yes. And you'll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. . . . We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong."

The attack began three days later. Of course, we know Cheney and the Bush Administration have tried to slide around the issue by saying that Saddam had a program - another assertion which we are certain is untrue due to the statements of all the reliable Iraqi scientists - but here Cheney is referring to both programs and weapons. He later claimed that what he meant was a program and not weapons, but you can see that he clearly referred to weapons, with the words after 'and we believe' extending the concept of 'kinds of efforts' - a program - to actual weapons. If Cheney's 'gold standard' National Intelligence Estimate, which he purported to rely on, specifically stated that Saddam had no nuclear weapons, just what was Cheney's basis for his clear statement that Saddam had such weapons?