The Washington Monthly: "One of the advantages of living in Orange County is that I have plenty of centrist and conservative acquaintances, and one thing I've learned from them is that even among Bush's own supporters it was the possibility of Saddam getting hold of nukes that really scared them. Chemical and biological weapons were a bit of a yawn. Without nukes, even Bush sympathizers were skeptical about the whole Iraq adventure.
Since Karl Rove has much more sophisticated means of gauging public opinion than my occasional lunches with friends, he obviously knew this full well. And that means that he was hellbent on making a case in the SOTU that Saddam had an active nuke program. The problem is that even after sifting through every available rumor, analysis, and unconfirmed report, they were only able to come up with two meager pieces of evidence:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
That's it. Uranium from Africa and aluminum tubes. It was pretty thin stuff.
But it turned out to be even thinner. Although conservatives insist with bilious disdain that the CIA was staffed by do-nothing bureaucrats afraid to follow the Iraqi WMD evidence where it led, the exact opposite was true. Although it's unclear how much of this was due to CIA culture and how much to White House pressure, the reality is that the CIA was far more bullish about Saddam's WMD programs than it should have been. They continued to report the uranium connection long after State Department analysts had made it clear that it was based on forged documents, and they continued to insist that the aluminum tubes were designed for centrifuges long after Department of Energy experts had conclusively debunked it."
Joe Wilson outed them on this claim so he had to be smeared.