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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bush: I was just briefed on the NIE report last week

You're kidding me right?

Q Mr. President, thank you. I’d like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in ‘03 had already come to light to this administration. So can’t you be accused of hyping this threat? And don’t you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?

THE PRESIDENT: David, I don’t want to contradict an August reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it’s not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it’s real, then what does it mean? And it wasn’t until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.

C&L's John Amato saves me the time in debunking Bush's latest misleading statement...
And here’s what Stephen Hadley said yesterday.

Q: Steve, when was the first time the President was given the inkling of something? I’m not clear on this. Was this months ago, when the first information started to become available to intelligence agencies?

MR. HADLEY: You ought to go back to the intelligence community. We will get you an answer on that. There’s two questions: one, when did they first get the information? — you ought to ask that to them — two, when was the President notified that there was new information available? We’ll try and get you a precise answer. As I say, it was, in my recollection, is in the last few months. Whether that is October — August, September, we’ll try and get you an answer to that.
Is it Jan. 2009 yet?

UPDATE: The Washington Post has more:
President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.

[...]

Still, the administration understood how explosive the new conclusions would be and kept them tightly held. Hadley said Bush was first told in August or September about intelligence indicating Iran had halted its weapons program, but was advised it would take time to evaluate. Vice President Cheney, Hadley and other top officials were briefed the week before last. Intelligence officials formalized their conclusions on Tuesday and briefed Bush the next day.