Bush says he still has faith in CIA directorBy Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 13, 2003
ABUJA, Nigeria - President Bush said Saturday he has faith in his intelligence chief after CIA director George Tenet accepted blame for Bush's erroneous claim about Iraqi weapons.
Asked in Nigeria whether he continued to trust Tenet, Bush said, "Yes, I do. Absolutely. I've got confidence in George Tenet."
The 16-word miscue in Bush's Jan. 28 State of the Union speech has turned into a firestorm of skepticism challenging the credibility of one of the president's primary justifications for the war - that Iraq was trying to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the charge - that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa - was based on a British intelligence report.
While the Bush administration worked to quiet the controversy, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Britain's publication of the disputed charge, saying the CIA expressed doubts about the allegation but did not say why.
In a letter to a House of Commons committee that was released Saturday, Straw said the charge was based in part on intelligence information it did not share with the United States.
Prime Minister Tony Blair's office insisted he believes the disputed charge was true, saying Britain has reliable information it cannot share with Washington because it comes from foreign intelligence sources.
Bush and Blair are scheduled to meet Thursday in Washington, where the British leader plans to address a joint session of Congress, according to his office.Iraqis take over police role from troops in Fallujah
FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S troops are handing Iraqi officials responsibility for policing the restive city of Fallujah, where American forces have come under increasing attack from Saddam Hussein loyalists, the military announced Saturday.
Iraqi police and the U.S.-appointed mayor requested the transfer, saying it would help reduce anti-American ambushes and shootings in the city, located in the "Sunni Triangle," a swath of central Iraq where Hussein had strong support.
The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement that the transfer of responsibility began Friday after Fallujah police asked for more power "in patrolling and securing the town."Tab for war in Iraq might hit $100-billion, aides say
WASHINGTON - The cost of the war and occupation of Iraq could reach $100-billion through next year, substantially higher than anticipated at the outset, according to defense and congressional aides. It is raising worries that other military needs will go unmet while the government is swamped in red ink.
The $50-billion cost of the war represents a 14 percent increase to military spending planned for this year. Even before war broke out, President Bush had proposed defense budgets through 2008 that would rise to $460-billion a year, up 74 percent from the $265-billion spent on defense in 1996, when the buildup began.
This week, officials expect to announce that the federal budget deficit will exceed $400-billion for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the largest in U.S. history by a wide margin.
"It's already unclear whether (the Bush defense buildup) is sustainable," said Steven Kosiak, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "Add another $50-billion, and it's doubly unclear."
Administration officials concede that spending levels in Iraq are considerably higher than anticipated. At the onset of war, Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon's chief financial officer, said postcombat operations were expected to cost about $2.2-billion a month. By early June, he adjusted that forecast to $3-billion. With about 145,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, many under fire, costs have continued to climb.
"We've peaked out," Zakheim said, "but we are still there in a way that we perhaps didn't think we would be at this point."
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