The Oct. 22 front-page story "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" was both substantively flawed and a distortion of what the president has said.

The story also compared recent presidential statements to those of other presidents, including Bill Clinton, who the story says "fibbed famously and under oath," and to Richard Nixon's "Watergate denials." Those were crimes that shook the nation. President Bush's statements are facts supported by the record.

For example, in his Cincinnati speech on Iraq, the president said, "We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these [unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs] for missions targeting the United States." The story declares that sentence to be "dubious, if not wrong," because the writer wrongly interprets the president to be saying that Iraq would launch the UAVs from Iraq. The president never suggested that. The threat from UAVs would come from their being launched from a ship or a truck or by their being smuggled into the United States.

True, the president stated that the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iraq could possess nuclear weapons in as few as six months. It was in fact the International Institute for Strategic Studies that issued the report concluding that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons in as few as six months. The source may be different, but the underlying fact remains the same, despite the story's declaration of the president's argument, once again, as "dubious, if not wrong."

Each point in The Post's story is refuted by the facts. It is The Post's reporting that is dubious, if not wrong.

ARI FLEISCHER

Press Secretary

The White House

Washington