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White House's NIE Story Unravels Even More

In the wake of a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran stopped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, the White House story on what Bush kn

In the wake of a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iran stopped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, the White House story on what Bush knew when has been burdened by contradictions and apparent falsehoods.

Yesterday, the White House's story changed.

President Bush was told in August that Iran's nuclear weapons program "may be suspended," the White House said Wednesday, which seemingly contradicts the account of the meeting given by Bush Tuesday.

Adm. Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told Bush the new information might cause intelligence officials to change their assessment of the Iranian program, but said analysts needed to review the new data before making a final judgment, White House press secretary Dana Perino said late Wednesday.

"Director McConnell said that the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran's covert nuclear program, but the intelligence community was not prepared to draw any conclusions at that point in time, and it wouldn't be right to speculate until they had time to examine and analyze the new data," Perino said in a statement issued by the White House.

The new account from Perino seems to contradict the president's version of his August conversation with McConnell and raised new questions about why Bush continued to warn the American public about a threat from Iran two months after being told a new assessment was in the works.

Of course it contradicts Bush's version. On Tuesday, the White House line was that Bush wasn't given any sense of what the latest Iranian intelligence said. On Wednesday, the White House line was that Bush was told the latest Iranian intelligence suggested Iran's nuclear program might not exist.

The president is stuck in a lie he can't get out of.

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