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Iraq: CIA Takes Responsibility For False Claim In Bush Speech

Washington, 12 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director has taken responsibility for a false claim by President George W. Bush that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear material from Africa. Director George Tenet said yesterday that the CIA doubted the validity of the claim and should have cut the accusation from Bush's State of the Union address in January after reviewing portions of the a draft speech.

The White House said earlier this week the information on Iraq's alleged attempts to buy the uranium had been based on forged documents.

The president's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters today that Bush considers the controversy over the false claim to be over now, and said Bush still has confidence in the CIA and in the director. He made the comment in Nigeria as Bush was touring a hospital.

But leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are calling for an independent investigation into whether the White House misled the public over the Iraqi threat before the U.S.-led war.