AFP via Channel News Asia - 7,7,03
A former US ambassador to the West African nation of Gabon has added his voice to growing claims that Washington "twisted" intelligence on Iraq before the war.
The CIA had sent Joseph Wilson to West Africa in February 2002 to check if Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger, the world's third-largest producer of mined uranium.
Wilson concluded this scenario was "literally impossible."
"I came to the conclusion that was literally impossible for this to have taken place in the absence of a broad conspiracy," said Mr Wilson.
Yet a year after he briefed the CIA on his findings, the assertion that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Africa made its way into President George Bush's State of the Union address early this year.
Mr Bush had told his audience: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
About a month after Bush's speech, the United Nations determined the uranium reports were based mostly on forged documents.
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice defended Mr Bush's speech, saying doubts about the assertion were not passed on to the administration.
Mr Wilson, however, has another take on what happened.
"What they did is they made that decision and then they backfilled it with whatever they could come up with to justify the war they had decided to make."
The US House and Senate are still investigating whether pre-war intelligence had been exaggerated to justify an invasion of Iraq.
Last updated 29/06/2004