- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stephen Hadley, President Bush’s deputy national security adviser, yesterday became the second administration official to apologize for allowing a tainted intelligence report on Iraq’s nuclear ambitions into Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address.

Mr. Hadley, in a rare on-the-record session with reporters, said he had received two memos from the CIA and a phone call from agency Director George J. Tenet last October raising objections to a charge that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore from Africa to use in building nuclear weapons.

As a result, Mr. Hadley said the offending passage was excised from a speech on Iraq the president gave in Cincinnati Oct. 7. But Mr. Hadley suggested that details from the memos and phone call had slipped from his attention as the State of the Union was being put together.

“The high standards the president set were not met,” Mr. Hadley said. He said he apologized to the president Monday.

Mr. Tenet previously issued a statement saying that he should have raised objections to the Iraq-Africa-uranium sentence when the CIA reviewed an advance copy of the president’s State of the Union message.

Mr. Hadley is the top aide to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The controversial passage citing a British intelligence report “should have been taken out of the State of the Union,” Mr. Hadley said. He said he was taking responsibility on behalf of the White House staff just as Mr. Tenet had for the CIA.

“There were a number of people who could have raised a hand” to have the passage removed from the draft of Mr. Bush’s Jan. 28 address, Mr. Hadley said. “And no one raised a hand.”

“The process failed,” said White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett.

Still, Mr. Bartlett said that Mr. Bush, while perturbed by the developments, “has full confidence in his national security adviser, his deputy national security adviser and the director of central intelligence.”

Mr. Hadley’s statement came as the administration went into full damage-control mode, reaching out to its Republican allies in Congress in an effort to counter criticism of Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy and his use of discredited intelligence to advance the case for toppling Saddam Hussein.

With Mr. Bush’s job-approval ratings slipping and U.S. casualties in Iraq climbing, the White House sought to move the debate away from the flap over Mr. Bush’s 16-word assertion that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium in Africa.

Mr. Bartlett said that he did not know if Mr. Hadley had offered to resign in his private conversation with Mr. Bush, but that no resignation was expected.

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