Tuesday, July 19, 2005

About That Memo

Drip, drip, drip...
The document was prepared in June 2003 at the direction of Carl W. Ford Jr., then head of the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research, for Marc Grossman, the retired official said. Grossman was the Undersecretary of State who was in charge of the department while Secretary Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were traveling. Grossman needed the memo because he was dealing with other issues and was not familiar with the subject, the former official said.

"It wasn't a Wilson-Wilson wife memo," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. "It was a memo on uranium in Niger and focused principally on our disagreement" with the White House.

Armitage called Ford after Wilson's op-ed piece in The New York Times and his TV appearance on July 6, 2003 in which he challenged the White House's claim that Iraq had purchased uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Armitage asked that Powell, who was traveling to Africa with Bush, be given an account of the Wilson trip, said the former official.

[snip]

The former State Department official stressed the memo focused on Wilson's trip and the State Department intelligence bureau's disagreement with the White House's claim about Iraq trying to get nuclear material. He said the fact that the CIA officer and Wilson were husband and wife was largely an incidental reference.

The June 2003 memo had not gone higher than Grossman until Wilson's op-ed column for The New York Times headlined "What I Didn't Find In Africa" and his TV appearance to dispute the administration. Wilson's article asked the question: "Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion?"

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