Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

George W. Bush and the Uranium

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This one line in President George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address overshadowed all the others, becoming infamously known as the "16 words." For critics of the Iraq war that began just months later, the line is often cited as one of the faulty premises for invasion. The claim motivated Ambassador Joe Wilson to write an op-ed in the New York Times directly countering what President Bush claimed — that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger for weapons of mass destruction. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA officer, was later outed in a column by Robert Novak in what was widely believed to be a form of punishment to Wilson for disputing the President. Plamegate, as it was later called, resulted in a trial that reached all the way to Vice President Dick Cheney's office.