The audiotape of Richard Armitage leaking the identity of Valerie Plame to Bob Woodward was released today and Wolfie has the goods.
John Amato: He has a bit of a potty mouth---doesn't he?.,.David Broder doesn't like bad language coming from bloggers...(h/t Duncan)
This exchange, IMO, is the most revealing:
Armitage: And George [Tenet] personally got it out of the Cincinnati speech of the President.
Woodward: Why wasn't [the yellowcake line] taken out of the State of the Union then?
Armitage: Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the White House.
So in other words, Tenet told the White House in October that the yellowcake claim was bogus yet Bush still decided to use it anyway nearly four months later. What this shows is that the accuracy of intelligence wasn't at all important; what was important was making the public believe Saddam was a grave and gathering threat. Leaving the "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" line in the SoTu -- albeit with the "The British government has learned..." caveat -- accomplished just that. It never really mattered if it was accurate or not. It was a convincing selling point. Therefore, it was left in.
Timmeh pressed Condi on this in the September 23, 2003, episode of Meet the Press. Her answer then is just as revealing (and troubling). Move over, Scooter, this is the original memory defense.
DR. RICE: It was taken out of the Cincinnati speech because whenever the director of Central Intelligence wants something out, it’s gone.
MR. RUSSERT: How’d it get back in?
DR. RICE: It’s not a matter of getting back in. It’s a matter, Tim, that three-plus months later, people didn’t remember that George Tenet had asked that it be taken out of the Cincinnati speech and then it was cleared by the agency. I didn’t remember. Steve Hadley didn’t remember. We are trying to put now in place methods so you don’t have to be dependent on people’s memories for something like that.