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Sen. Jay Rockefeller: WMD Flap 'Far From Over'

In a conversation with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) -- the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee -- says the White House unfairly made CIA director George Tenet the scapegoat for faulty intelligence on Iraq.

Rockefeller also told Inskeep that National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice "had to have known" a year before Bush's 2003 State of the Union address that intelligence claiming Iraqi agents were attempting to purchase uranium from African officials was bogus.

Referring to recent White House and CIA statements meant to defuse the controversy, Rockefeller said, "I think it raises more questions than it settles, and I think it's far from over.

"I cannot believe that Condi Rice... directly, from Africa, pointed the finger at George Tenet, when she had known -- had to have known -- a year before the State of the Union."

"The entire intelligence community has been very skeptical about this from the very beginning," Rockefeller says. "And she has her own director of intelligence, she has her own Iraq and Africa specialists, and it's just beyond me that she didn't know about this, and that she has decided to make George Tenet the fall person. I think it's dishonorable."

In an interview with Fox News, Rice insisted that Bush's statement was accurate -- but conceded that the assertion of Iraqi uranium shopping in Africa should have been deleted from the address.

"The statement that (Bush) made was indeed accurate," Rice said. "The British government did say that. Not only was the statement accurate, there were statements of this kind in the National Intelligence Estimate," a document compiled by U.S. agencies detailing threats to the United States.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.