Bush jumped the shark?

WIth the revelation that Bush lied in his State of the Union address, and the fact that the public isn't buying his rationalizations this time, I wonder if this will be seen as the "jump the shark" date for his Administration?

If you're unaware of the facts of the case, here is the requisite background material.

White House 'lied about Saddam threat' (Guardian UK)

A former US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration in the build-up to the Iraq war accused the White House yesterday of lying about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
The claims came as the Bush administration was fighting to shore up its credibility among a series of anonymous government leaks over its distortion of US intelligence to manufacture a case against Saddam.

This was the first time an administration official has put his name to specific claims. The whistleblower, Gregory Thielmann, served as a director in the state department's bureau of intelligence until his retirement in September, and had access to the classified reports which formed the basis for the US case against Saddam, spelled out by President Bush and his aides.

Mr Thielmannn said yesterday: "I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq."

He conceded that part of the problem lay with US intelligence, but added: "Most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided."

As Democrats demanded a congressional enquiry, the administration sharply changed tack. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told the Senate the US had not gone to war against Iraq because of fresh evidence of weapons of mass destruction but because Washington saw what evidence there was prior to 2001 "in a dramatic new light" after September 11.

A Diplomat's Undiplomatic Truth: They Lied

Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson publicly revealed over the weekend that he was the mysterious envoy whom the CIA, under pressure from Cheney, sent to Niger to investigate a document � now known to be a crude forgery � that allegedly showed Iraq was trying to acquire enriched uranium that might be used to build a nuclear bomb. Wilson found no basis for the story, and nobody else has either.

What is startling in Wilson's account, however, is that the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office were all informed that the Niger-Iraq connection was phony. No one in the chain of command disputed that this "evidence" of Iraq's revised nuclear weapons program was a hoax.

Yet, nearly a year after Wilson reported back the facts to Cheney and the U.S. security apparatus, Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, invoked the fraudulent Iraq-Africa uranium connection as a major justification for rushing the nation to war: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." What the president did not say was that the British were relying on their intelligence white paper, which was based on the same false information that Wilson and the U.S. ambassador to Niger had already debunked. "That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address," Wilson said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

White House Backs Off Claim on Iraqi Buy:

"Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech," a senior Bush administration official said last night in a statement authorized by the White House.

Bush Skirts Queries on Iraq Nuclear Allegation

PRETORIA, South Africa, July 9 -- President Bush today brushed aside questions about the accuracy of his claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa, declaring that there was "no doubt" his decision to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein from power was correct.

The president avoided answering questions directly about whether he regretted including the claim and whether he still believed the charge -- that Iraq had sought a form of uranium from Niger -- to be true despite White House aides' acknowledgments this week that the allegation was baseless and should not have been in the speech.

Bush dismissed the matter as "attempts to rewrite history."

I find that last quote hilarious, and classic Bush political jujitsu. Do wrong, then blame those who decry you. History is still being written, Mr. President.

UPDATE: CBS News reports that Bush knew the Niger claim was false, the CIA briefed the White House.

Earlier, in a rare press conference aboard Air Force One, the president's national security adviser said the CIA had vetted the speech.

If CIA Director George Tenet had any misgivings about that sentence in the president's speech, "he did not make them known" to Mr. Bush or his staff, said Condoleezza Rice.
But CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that before the State of the Union speech was delivered, CIA officials warned members of the president's National Security Council staff that the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.

According to sources, White House officials responded that a September dossier issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: "Iraq has�sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

As long as the statement was attributed to British intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate.

in other words, the White House argues that "factually accurate" depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

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