Evening Newscasts Wrap: ABC News Political Unit

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All networks lead with the Senate Intelligence Report. ABC: Linda Douglass/ NBC: Andrea Mitchell/ CBS: David Martin.


ABC's Linda Douglass notes the report concludes that the Administration based much of its case for war on false information, exaggerated claims and faulty assumptions by the CIA. The 500 page report paints a devastating picture of intelligence agencies that twisted the evidence to support their belief that Saddam Hussein was producing WMDs. In the fall of 2002, the CIA rushed to release a frightening report that warned Saddam Hussein was preparing to use Sarin gas, Anthrax, and Small Pox that could threaten the U.S. Today's report found that claim was inconsistent with anything the CIA had said before. Although the administration touted the intelligence claims in the months leading up to the war, the report found that much of the information Colin Powell presented to the UN before the war was "overstated" and "misleading." However, the report did not find evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce or pressure analysts to conclude that Iraq had WMDs. Democrats strongly disagree. The report found that the CIA was correct in concluding there were links between Iraq and Al Qeada, though no formal relationship. The next phase of the report will look at whether the White House manipulated information.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports according to today's report, President Bush went to war on false assumptions that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. 511 pages catalog misjudgments, no attempt by Saddam to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program, no stock pile of biological or chemical weapons, no formal terror connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. Even today in two appearances, President Bush insisted Saddam was a threat. The CIA says the White House did not pressure them to hype the pre-war threat. Dissenting views from committee Democrats call that an incomplete picture, insisting the agency was pressured.

CBS's Harry Smith says that the report found no evidence there was collusion with WH, and blamed the CIA for the failures. Reports CBS's David Martin, most conclusions were not supported by the evidence and that the report is "crammed" with specific details and mistakes. Sen. Pat Roberts claims officials suffered from "groupthink" for people to presume Iraq had WMD. Martin also reports that the aluminum tubes were likely for rockets. The report also finds there were no CIA agents in Iraq after 1999, and yet the committee did not blame the White House, even blaming the CIA for Bush's State of the Union gaffe. No need for a shakeup says John McLaughlin. McLaughlin denies there are "sweeping" problems that need to be fixed.


Ted Koppel reports, campaigning in Pennsylvania today, President Bush said the committee's report had not changed his mind, he would make the same choice to go to war. Mr. Bush said that Saddam Hussein was a threat for many reasons, and that the world is a better place... America is safer without Saddam.


ABC's Terry Moran reports joined in a rare appearance by his daughter Jenna, President Bush set out on a scenic bus trip today through rural Pennsylvania, carefully designed to send a message: Mr. Bush, the Republicans claim, shares the values of the heartland. Bush's small-town choreography today stood in pointed contrast to the huge Democratic fundraiser in New York last night, where John Kerry and John Edwards raised 7.5 million dollars, with the help of many celebrities. Jessica Lange SOT. Chevy Chase SOT. Inside the fundraiser, where media cameras were not allowed, the anti-Bush sentiment grew sharper. Whoopi Goldberg shocked the audience when she repeatedly played off Mr. Bush' last name to make crude references to her own anatomy. Rock singer John Mellencamp sang of the President: "He's just another cheap thug that sacrifices young lives." Kerry then said onstage that the stars "represent the heart and souls of this country." Today, Kerry tried to distance himself from the event. His campaign manager said "he does not approve of some of the remarks." The Bush campaign is already running a newspaper ad in the three states today, mocking Kerry's claim last week to rural Minnesota voters that "I actually represent the conservative values that they feel." With polls showing voters are anxious about the President's leadership in Iraq and the economy, the Bush campaign is trying to paint the Democratic ticket as out of the mainstream of American values.

NBC's Nora O'Donnell reports President Bush and his daughter Jenna rolled through Pennsylvania today. Also today, Kerry and Edwards used the word "values" more than 30 times in one event. But overshadowing the Democrats was Republican outrage over last night's star-studded fundraiser in New York, where Hollywood stars took turns calling the President names. The Kerry campaign said they represent the conservative values people feel. Nicolle Devenish: "You can't say that and then wrap your arms around this gross display last night." Even worse says the Bush campaign, was when Kerry took to the stage thanking the stars. Stephanie Cutter: "It's clear that those performers don't speak for John Kerry and John Kerry doesn't speak for them." The President's TV ads and his new attacks are a clear sign that even as Democrats wade into the values debate on their terms, the President isn't willing to give up any ground.

CBS's Bill Plant reports that Bush was "foraging" for small town voters in Pennsylvania and that daughter Jenna joins him for the first time. The values message is also being pushed by speeding up the gay marriage amendment, even though it has little chance of being passed, according to Plant. Bush says the bedroom is up to individuals, but that does not mean we have to redefine marriage. Values to Bush include patriotism and religious faith, reports Plant. Prof. Chris Borick says that when people hear values and don't like Bush, they tend to see it as a much more loaded issue, and that could hurt Bush.

CBS's Byron Pitts reports that Democrats are trying to play the values angle, but "those values came into question" after the fundraiser at which celebrities roundly bashed Bush. "Why are you asking me to come if you don't want me to be mean," said Whoopi Goldberg, according to CBS audio. Aids say Kerry was offended and told the staff after he left the stage. After Edwards bounce, this was not a discussion the campaign wanted to have today.


Ted Koppel reports the Pentagon said today that payroll records that could document part of President Bush's National Guard service were inadvertently destroyed. Democrats have questioned whether Mr. Bush skirted duty for a time. His aides said he did not. The records might have settled this. But the pentagon says that payroll records of Mr. Bush and other guard members from 1972 and 73 were ruined eight years ago.

CBS' Harry Smith reports the WH confirms military payroll records from the period where Bush was in the service were accidentally destroyed.


(Ted Koppel anchors)

1. Senate Intelligence Report. (Linda Douglass, Washington) 2. The Central Intelligence Agency held a rare news conference today to defend itself. 3. Political impact of the report. (Ted Koppel/ George Stephanopoulos two-way) 4. Campaigning in Pennsylvania today, President Bush said the committee's report had not changed his mind, he would make the same choice to go to war. 5. The American marine who went missing in Iraq and then turned up in Lebanon arrived today at the US base in Ramstein, Germany. 6. The International Court of Justice in the Hague said the barrier Israel is building in the Palestinian West Bank violates international law. (Dean Reynolds, Jerusalem) 7. Questions of values. (Terry Moran, York, Pennsylvania.) 8. Bush and his National Guard records. 9. Living longer. (Ron Claiborne, Boston) 10. In Massachusetts, a retired custodian claimed a 294 million dollar jackpot in the mega millions lottery. 11. Person of the Week: George Tenet.


(Brian Williams anchors)

1. Senate Intelligence report. (Andrea Mitchell, Washington) 2. How reliable is this week's warning based in part on CIA intelligence? (Pete Williams, Washington) 3. American values. (Nora O'Donnell, York, Pa.) 4. The UN world court in the Hague says barrier in Israel violates international law. 5. Hassoun arrived in Ramstein, Germany today. 6. Preview of U.S. teams heading to the Olympics. (Fred Francis, Long Beach, Ca.) 7. Fleecing of America: jobs making people sick. (John Seigenthaler, NY) 8. Russian editor of "Forbes", Paul Klebnikov was killed. 9. Fire danger on Honda model. (Don Teague, Atlanta) 10. A good day on Wall Street. 11. Mega-millions lottery winner. 12. Bass fishing is suddenly huge. (Roger O'Neil, Columbus, Miss.)


(Harry Smith anchors)

1. Intelligence Report (David Martin, Pentagon) 2. Democratic fundraiser under fire (Byron Pitts, Beaver, West Virginia) 3. Bush in Pennsylvania (Bill Plant, York, Pa.) 4. Bush Service Records 5. Missing military office, Hassoun, comes back and will be questioned heavily. 6. Threats and consequences in Iraq (Kimberly Dosier, Baghdad) 7. World Court rules Israeli barrier illegal 8. Triplets custody battle (Cynthia Bowers) 9. New restrictions for mad cow disease prevention 10. Orkin fraud 11. Consumer alert: dust (John Blackstone, San Francisco) 12. Meteor video 13. $294 Million lotto winner