Bolton Iraq Wankery

You’ve likely noticed that the office of Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a “letter”: describing State Department efforts to “conceal unclassified information about the role of John Bolton … in the creation of a [December 2002] “fact sheet”: distributed to the United Nations that falsely claimed Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.”

That fact sheet, by the way, was the first public mention about this attempted uranium transaction.

While writing a “chronology”: about the Iraq/Niger uranium fiasco a while back, I looked into Bolton’s role in the creation of that fact sheet, but couldn’t get anyone to confirm his involvement. Members of Congress apparently faced similar obstacles.

Anyway, the relevant portion of the chronology reads as follows:

December 19, 2002: A State Department fact sheet charges Iraq with omitting its “efforts to procure uranium from Niger” from its December 7 declaration to UN weapons inspectors. UN Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted November 8, 2002, required Iraq to submit a declaration “of all aspects of its [weapons of mass destruction] programmes.” The declaration is supposed to provide information about any prohibited weapons activity since UN inspectors left the country in 1998 and to resolve outstanding questions about Iraq’s WMD programs that had not been answered by 1998.

The fact sheet is “developed jointly by the CIA and the State Department,” according to an April 29, 2003, letter from the State Department to Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA). Boucher later says July 14, 2003, that the Niger information was “prepared in other bureaus of the State Department,” but he does not say which bureaus were involved. The fact sheet was not cleared by the State Department’s intelligence bureau, according to knowledgeable sources.

A State Department official interviewed August 21, 2003, however, said the State Department’s Public Affairs Bureau developed the fact sheet from a draft of a speech U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte gave December 20, 2002, to a closed session of the Security Council. The State Department would have discussed the information for that speech “at several levels with the National Security Council (NSC),” the official added. The final draft of Negroponte’s speech did not contain the reference to Niger.

The IAEA requests information from the United States on the uranium claim “immediately after” the fact sheet’s release, according to a June 20, 2003, letter from the IAEA to Waxman. This information is not supplied until February 4, 2003, according to a July 1, 2003, State Department letter to Waxman.

(Thanks to “Steve Clemons”: via “Laura Rozen subbing for Kevin Drum”:

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