What the president knew

Bush was told about new findings about Iran even as saber rattling continued.

By Tim Grieve

Published December 4, 2007 12:10PM (EST)

What you need to know about the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran: George W. Bush was first told in August or September that "fresh intelligence" suggested that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Yes, that was before Bush said that he took "the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously," and that the best way to prevent "World War III" would be to prevent the Iranians from obtaining the "knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

It was before Condoleezza Rice said Iran is "pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to nuclear weapons-grade material."

It was before Dick Cheney said that the United States should "reach for any tool that's available" -- including the "possible use of military force" -- to "discourage the Iranians from enriching uranium and producing nuclear weapons."

It was before Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the United States should "have no illusions about the nature of [the Iranian] regime or its leaders -- about their designs for their nuclear program, their willingness to live up to their rhetoric, their intentions for Iraq, or their ambitions in the Gulf."

It was before Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said of the Iranians: "We are convinced that they are developing nuclear weapons."

It was, however, four years after the Bush administration started a different war based on similarly false and misleading claims.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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