UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


[Table of Contents]

F. The Cincinnati Speech

(U) On October 4, 2002, the NSC sent a draft of a speech they were preparing for the President to deliver in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was draft six of the speech and contained the line, "and the regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa - an essential ingredient in the enrichment process."

(U) The CIA's former Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence (ADDI) for Strategic Programs, told Committee staff he was tasked by the Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) to handle coordination of the speech within the CIA. On October 5, 2002, the ADDI brought together representatives for each of the areas of Iraq that the speech covered and asked the analysts to bring forward any issues that they thought should be addressed with the NSC. The ADDI said an Iraq nuclear analyst - he could not remember who - raised concerns about the sourcing and some of the facts of the Niger reporting, specifically that the control of the mines in Niger would have made it very difficult to get yellowcake to Iraq.

(  ) Both WINPAC Iraq nuclear analysts who had followed the Iraq-Niger uranium issue told Committee staff they were not involved in coordinating the Cincinnati speech and did not participate in the speech coordination session on October 5, 2002. The WINPAC Deputy Director for Analysis also told Committee staff he did not recall being involved in the Cincinnati speech, but later clarified his remarks to the Committee in writing saying that he remembered participating in the speech, but did not recall commenting on the section of the speech dealing with the Niger information. Committee staff asked the CIA to identify who might have attended the Cincinnati speech coordination meeting and raised concerns with the ADDI about the sourcing and facts of the Niger reporting. The CIA told Committee staff that the NESA Iraq analyst, (                                                            ) believes he may have been the one who attended the meeting and raised concerns about the Niger reporting with the ADDI.

(U) Based on the analyst's comments, the ADDI drafted a memo for the NSC outlining the facts that the CIA believed needed to be changed, and faxed it to the Deputy National Security Advisor and the speech writers. Referring to the sentence on uranium from Africa the CIA said, "remove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory."

(                ) Later that day, the NSC staff prepared draft seven of the Cincinnati speech which contained the line, "and the regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa." Draft seven was sent to CIA for coordination.

(                ) The ADDI told Committee staff he received the new draft on October 6, 2002 and noticed that the uranium information had "not been addressed," so he alerted the DCI. The DCI called the Deputy National Security Advisor directly to outline the CIA's concerns. On July 16, 2003, the DCI testified before the SSCI that he told the Deputy National Security Advisor that the "President should not be a fact witness on this issue," because his analysts had told him the "reporting was weak." The NSC then removed the uranium reference from the draft of the speech.

(                ) Although the NSC had already removed the uranium reference from the speech, later on October 6, 2002 the CIA sent a second fax to the White House which said, "more on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points (1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. (2) The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. And (3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British."

(U) On October 7, 2002, President Bush delivered the speech in Cincinnati without the uranium reference. On the same day, the CIA prepared comments on a draft White House paper, A Grave and Gathering Danger. The comments suggested a change to the draft language saying "better to generalize the first bullet as follows: Sought uranium from Africa to feed the enrichment process" The original text from the White House had said "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." The White House did not publish the paper.

[Table of Contents]

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list