Friday, July 18, 2003

Drip, drip, drip. No matter how much cover Tony Blair tries to give George W. Bush, the news for the White House keeps getting worse.

Today the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Dana Priest report that the State Department received those forged Niger uranium documents three months before the State of the Union address -- and four months before the documents were finally turned over to UN weapons inspectors. Write Pincus and Priest:

State Department officials could not say yesterday why they did not turn over the documents when the inspectors asked for them in December.

Both the Post and the New York Times' James Risen and David Sanger offer details on how National Security Council staffer Robert Joseph pushed to include the phony Niger connection in the State of the Union even though CIA director George Tenet had personally acted to keep it out of Bush's October 7 speech.

Meanwhile, former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger comes riding to Bush's defense with a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece (free registration required) that attempts to resurrect the Niger story. Earth to Cap: perhaps there is something to it, as Blair insists. The issue is the White House's cavalier treatment of a forgery. But, then, lest we forget, Weinberger received a presidential pardon from Bush's father.

Loyalty counts.

The sneering subhead on Weinberger's piece: "How many electoral votes does Niger have, anyway?" Well, gosh, I guess that would be zero. Can't argue with that.

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