I. The State of the Union
(U) On January 27, 2003, the DCI was provided with a hardcopy draft of the State of the Union address at an NSC meeting. When he returned to the CIA, he passed the draft to an executive assistant to deliver to the office of the DDI. No one in the office of the DDI recalls who the point of contact for the speech was, or if a point of contact was ever named. No one recalled receiving parts of the speech for coordination and because the speech was hand carried, no electronic versions of the speech exist at the CIA. The DCI testified at a July 16, 2003 hearing that he never read the State of the Union speech.
(U) In late January, the Director of WINPAC discussed, over the phone, the portion of the State of the Union draft pertaining to uranium with his NSC counterpart, the Special Assistant to the President for Nonproliferation. Neither individual can recall who initiated the phone call. Both the WINPAC Director and NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that the WINPAC Director's concerns about using the uranium information pertained only to revealing sources and methods and not to any concerns about the credibility of the uranium reporting. The WINPAC Director said because the Niger information was specifically and directly tied to a foreign government service, his concern was about releasing classified information in an unclassified speech. He told Committee staff that this had been the CIA's longstanding position and was the reason the CIA wanted the reference removed from the British white paper. Both the WINPAC Director and NSC Special Assistant agreed that the discussion was brief, cordial, and that they mutually agreed that citing the British information, which was already unclassified, was preferable to citing U.S. classified intelligence.
(U) The WINPAC Director and the NSC Special Assistant disagreed, however, about the content of their conversation in some important respects. First, when the WINPAC Director first spoke to Committee staff and testified at a Committee hearing, he said that he had told the NSC Special Assistant to remove the words "Niger" and "500 tons" from the speech because of concerns about sources and methods. The NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that there never was a discussion about removing "Niger" and "500 tons" from the State of the Union and said that the drafts of the speech show that neither "Niger" nor "500 tons" were ever in any of the drafts at all. He believed that the WINPAC Director had confused the State of the Union conversation with a conversation they had previously had in preparation for the Negroponte speech in which they did discuss removing "Niger" from the speech because of the WINPAC Director's concerns about revealing sources and methods.
(U) A few days after his testimony before the Committee, the WINPAC Director found the draft text of the State of the Union in WINPAC's files and noticed that it did not say "500 tons of uranium from Niger." In a follow up interview with Committee staff, he said that he still recalls the conversation the way he described it to the Committee originally, however, he believes that he may have confused the two conversations because the documentation he found does not support his version of events. The draft text of the State of the Union he found said, "we know that he [Saddam Hussein] has recently sought to buy uranium in Africa." The White House also told the Committee that the text they sent to the CIA in January said, "we also know that he has recently sought to buy uranium in Africa."
(U) Second, the WINPAC Director also told the Committee that the NSC Special Assistant came up with the idea to source the uranium information to the British during their conversation when he was attempting to come up with an unclassified way to use the uranium reporting. The NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that the reference to the British came from the White House speech writers who were working to come up with publicly usable sources for all of the intelligence information in the speech. Because the speech writers obtained information regarding Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium from Africa from both the intelligence underlying the NIE and the British white paper, the speech writers sought to attribute the State of the Union reference to one of those sources. The NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff the discussion with the WINPAC Director was focused on which of the two sources would be better to use and that the WINPAC Director preferred sourcing the information to the British paper because it was unclassified. Both the WINPAC Director and NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that there was never a discussion about the credibility of the information.
(U) Finally, the two disagreed about the WINPAC Director's account that he had told the NSC Special Assistant that the CIA had urged the British to remove the uranium reference from their white paper, also because of concerns about sources and methods. The NSC Special Assistant told Committee staff that the WINPAC Director did not tell him the CIA had asked the British to remove the reference from their white paper.
(U) The CIA has told the Committee in a written response that the agency did not coordinate with any other NSC directorates on the reference to Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Africa.
(U) On January 28, 2003, the President noted in his State of the Union address that ". . . the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." At the time the President delivered the State of the Union address, no one in the IC had asked anyone in the White House to remove the sentence from the speech. CIA Iraq nuclear analysts and the Director of WINPAC told Committee staff that at the time of the State of the Union, they still believed that Iraq was probably seeking uranium from Africa, and they continued to hold that belief until the IAEA reported that the documents were forgeries.
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