So awfully nice to know, as the media and certain Democratic presidential candidates would have us believe, that Saddam Hussein never, ever tried to buy uranium in Africa. The claim to the contrary -- specifically, that the British government learned the now-deposed Iraqi dictator sought uranium in Africa -- first came to public attention during the last State of the Union address. It was one point among many bolstering the president's case to use force to disarm the maniacal dictator, who, if memory serves me, was still using a decade's worth of United Nations disarmament orders to line his favorite camel's stable stall.
But now the word -- make that, The Word -- is that the sentence about uranium in the president's 4,000-plus word speech was "false intelligence," as ABC's Claire Shipman put it, and "wrong," according to NBC's Brian Williams. "The president campaigned for the job, in part, on the notion that he was the anti-Clinton, a man who said what he meant and meant what he said, no sentence parsing needed," said CNN's Aaron Brown, opining about the president's uranium statement. "Square that with today and critics who say you've got a bonanza for sentence parsers and at least the makings of a credibility gap."
A bonanza for sentence parsers? The makings of a credibility gap? Never mind that both Tony Blair and Jack Straw adamantly vouch for the uranium claim -- insisting that British intelligence relied on secret information independent of now-discredited forgeries. And never mind that the U.S. government hasn't denied the British claim, but rather has been unable to corroborate it.
The fact is, the American media have summarily condemned the single sentence about uranium as a "hoax," as New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof put it, and "part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence," according to his colleague Paul Krugman -- who, not incidentally, went on to do a little politicizing and corrupting of his own by inflating the original claim that Saddam Hussein had merely "sought" uranium (a verb that conveys a built-in sense of failure) into "the case of the bogus uranium purchases."