O'Reilly echoed false Bush claim that Kerry saw "same intelligence" as Bush

››› ››› GABE WILDAU

Referring to prewar intelligence on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, FOX News Channel host and radio host Bill O'Reilly claimed that Senator John Kerry "saw the same stuff" as President George W. Bush and judged that, in O'Reilly's words, "Saddam was a threat." But a recent New York Times investigation into available pre-war intelligence documented that the administration did not share with Congress or the public all the relevant intelligence on Iraq, particularly the widespread doubt about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program.

On the October 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly offered Bush advice on arguments he should make at the presidential debate that evening: "Bush has gotta be blunt so even I can understand him. He's gotta look at Kerry and he's gotta say, 'Hey, look. You saw the same stuff I saw. You saw that Saddam was a threat. You went along with it. So knock it off with the Monday-morning quarterbacking, pal.'" Indeed, Bush himself often makes this "same intelligence" claim.

But The New York Times' recent investigation into the internal debate in the U.S. intelligence community surrounding aluminum tubes that Hussein had allegedly purchased (which were crucial evidence for the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program) revealed that the Bush administration was making alarming, seemingly definitive public declarations about Iraq's supposed nuclear program -- even as many of the most qualified nuclear experts in the U.S. intelligence community were raising doubts about whether the tubes could be used to make centrifuges to enrich uranium. But Kerry and other members of Congress were not privy to this internal debate.

The Times reported:

Mr. [Vice President Dick] Cheney went on the NBC News program ''Meet the Press'' [on September 8, 2002] and confirmed when asked that the tubes were the most alarming evidence behind the administration's view that Iraq had resumed its nuclear weapons program. The tubes, he said, had ''raised our level of concern.'' Ms. [Condoleezza] Rice, the national security adviser, went on CNN [the same day] and said the tubes ''are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs.''

Neither official mentioned that the nation's top nuclear design experts believed overwhelmingly that the tubes were poorly suited for centrifuges.

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