by James Lyons / The Press Association UK –
LONDON (January 13, 2004) — [According to former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill] George Bush was planning the invasion of Iraq from the moment he became US President…. His claims have been dismissed as the bitter attack of a sacked man by President Bush’s supporters. But they were backed today by Greg Thielmann, director of the Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the US State Department until his retirement last year.
Mr Theilmann told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “I’m afraid I think the American public was seriously misled.” The US administration “twisted, distorted, simplified” intelligence in a way that led Americans to “seriously misunderstand what the nature of the Iraq threat was,” he said.
Bush ‘Abused a Sacred Trust’
“I’m not sure I can think of a worse act against the people in a democracy than a President distorting critical information,” he said. “For a President to abuse that sacred trust … is to me a very serious development.”
Mr Theilmann said he was “not as knowledgeable about the British side of the question”. But he said: “I am disappointed by some of the statements made by Prime Minister Blair, even though I understand how difficult it is for a close ally of the United States to confront the United States on the use of intelligence information.”
British intelligence was still sticking to claims that Saddam attempted to obtain nuclear material from Niger even though the US now acknowledged that was based on forged documents, Mr Theilmann said.
Mr Blair would not have been working on more evidence than the Bush administration, he told Today. “It is unlikely that any really important intelligence here would not have been shared,” he said.
“We are talking about intelligence of extraordinary importance, intelligence that can make the difference between war and peace. I find it very difficult to believe that major intelligence has been withheld from one party to the other.”
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