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Report: Powell says Bush took 'misleading' Cheney advice, ignored State Department

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday April 12, 2006

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Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that, despite the fact that the State Department's experts did not suspect Iraq had nuclear capabilities, President Bush followed the misleading advice of Vice President Richard B. Cheney on the subject, according to claims made today by the website Truthdig.

In the report it is also disclosed that Powell characterized the President's mention of the Niger in the State of the Union "a big mistake."

The Truthdig story may be read here.

Excerpts from the article follow:

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On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.

The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.

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"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it."

When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the president: "That was all Cheney." A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it begs the question of how the president came to be a captive of his vice president's fantasies.

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