According to a story in tomorrow’s Washington Post, there’s a critical new memo on the uranium-from-Niger claim that’s never been disclosed before now:
Tenet interceded to keep the [uranium] claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department “fact sheet.” After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.
The council’s reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.
Bush put his prestige behind the uranium story in his Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address.
The significance of this is the timing, and that the National Intelligence Council is supposed to be the final word.