"Missing in Action" "Weapons of Mass Destruction" "What the fuck?" "George W. Bush President of the United States of America"?

09 July 2003 -- White House Daily Breifing from Pretoria, South Africa

09 July 2003

White House Daily Breifing from Pretoria, South Africa

This transcript wasn't availible through the White House website but AmericaBlog knew where to find it.



Q: What's the final language, Ari, your final position on the State of the Union speech and the uranium -- I know they were working on stuff last night, but I never got a chance to read it. ... Is this on the record?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, we're back on the record. After the speech, information was learned about the forged documents. With the advantage of hindsight, it's known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech. This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech. There was reporting, although it wasn't very specific, about Iraq's seeking to obtain uranium from Africa. It's a classic issue of how hindsight is 20-20. The process was followed that led to the information going into the State of the Union; information about the yellow cake was only brought to the White House's attention later.

Q: Ambassador Wilson said he made a case months before that there was no basis to the belief --

MR. FLEISCHER: No, he reported that Niger denied the allegation. That's what Ambassador Wilson reported.

Q: Was that report weighed against other --

MR. FLEISCHER: And of course they would deny the allegation. That doesn't make it untrue. It was only later -- you can ask Ambassador Wilson if he reported that the yellow cake documents were forged. He did not. His report did not address whether the documents were forged or not. His report stated that Niger denied the accusation. He spent eight days in Niger and concluded that Niger denied the allegation. Well, typically, nations don't admit to going around nuclear nonproliferation.

Q: But he said there was a basis to believe their denials.

MR. FLEISCHER: That's different from what he reported. The issue here is whether the documents on yellow cake were forged. He didn't address that issue. That's the information that subsequently came to light, not prior to the speech.

Q: Ari, back on the State of the Union, is there anything that the White House, that the administration is going to do differently to prevent something like that from happening, like how a piece of information that does not rise to the level that should be included in a speech, that ends up being inaccurate --

MR. FLEISCHER: There's always a thorough vetting process. We'll continue to follow the vetting process. But it is the nature of events that information can later be discovered after a speech -- and when that happens, as is in this case, it's important to be forthright, which is what this administration has done -- to discuss it openly, and that's what this administration has done.

Q: When you talked about the contemporaneous reporting right before the speech, what exactly do you mean?

MR. FLEISCHER: There was the national intelligence estimate, intelligence community.

Q: So you had other reports about Niger and about the yellow cake from Niger.

MR. FLEISCHER: -- part of the intelligence community's reporting leading up to the speech --

Q: There wasn't a lot --

Q: Some British --

MR. FLEISCHER: -- which subsequently -- no, the President in the State of the Union cited the British report. But there had been an independent American report which in the instance of yellow cake, subsequently turned out not to be valid. But keep in mind, again, we've said that about the yellow cake for an extended period of time. This administration has been forthright.

In this transcript Ari Fleischer the White House press secretary, goes on record to admit the information in the State of the Union address about uranium and Africa should not have been included. Ari also makes note of what "information" the ambassador was able to confirm, and that had nothing to do with the forged documents.