Rice: Time to Move On on Niger reference

July 17, 2003

Bush still on the hook

By: George S. Hishmeh*

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, protested in Shakespearean style on one of the Sunday talk shows: "It is 16 words, and it has become an enormously overblown issue." Her view: "It's time to move on."

But nothing of the sort. The 16 words that are still haunting this U.S. administration were uttered by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address last January. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussain recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Rice and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld were picked to protect the administration - both appeared on more than one talk show last Sunday - from the allegation that Bush has misled the country and the world. But despite all their spinning about the questionable allegation that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger for Saddam's nuclear weapons programme, the storm did not subside.

Even the administration's argument that the quotation was "technically correct" - the attribution was to the British government - did not satisfy anyone. In fact, The New York Times reported last Saturday that a member of Rice's staff, Robert Joseph, was the person who insisted on putting this sentence in the speech when alluding to Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Arabic Media Internet Network


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