For the last two weeks, I have been subjected — along with my wife, Valerie Plame — to a partisan Republican smear campaign. In right-wing blogs and on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the National Review, I've been accused of being a liar and, worse, a traitor.
I cannot speak for all right-wing blogs, but I can say this - there are bigger right wing blogs, and better, but no one has posted more about Joe Wilson than I have.
And I have simply not called Joe Wilson a traitor. Nor, I suspect, have the NRO or the Wall Street Journal. Given Wilson's many apparent problems with the truth, we are going to score this as another Wilson lie, pending rebuttal evidence (which I, BTW, am not spending a lot of time looking for). Perhaps one of his many supporters could undertake this seemingly minor task - find a cite in the last two weeks where the Journal called Wilson a traitor.
I went to Niger, investigated and told the CIA that the report was unfounded. Then, in July 2003, I revealed some details of my investigation in a New York Times Op-Ed article.
My goodness, he is awfully coy about his anonymous leaks to the media before he went public. Those leaks drove the public debate, and do not seem to have stood up to careful examination. Perhaps his memory betrayed him - he ought to re-read his own book, pages 330-332. Or re-read his chat with Vanity Fair. One wonders whether this is when Mr. Wilson acquired his familiarity with smear campaigns. Was he also orchestrated, or simply a one-man band?
And why did the Ambassador go public?
I did that because President Bush had used the Niger claim to support going to war in Iraq — to support his contention that we could not wait "for the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud"....
The President said that on Oct 7, 2002; the 16 Words with which Mr.Wilson is more famously associated were from the State of the Union in January 2003, and it is that to which he refers in his July 6 op-ed.
In the last two weeks, since the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on intelligence failures, the smear attacks have intensified. Based on distortions in the report, they appear to have three purposes: to sow confusion; to distract attention from the fact that the White House used the Niger claim even after CIA Director George Tenet told Bush that "the reporting was weak"; and to protect whoever it was who told the press about Valerie.
Gee, some might call it "reporting", although we shouldn't rule out simple, monomaniacal gloating. Media accountability, Kerry's judgement in having Wilson associated with his campaign, yeah, yeah.
Let us not tarry - I know you are wondering (as am I) whether Mr. Wilson actually has anything to add to the record. Here we go:
The primary new charge from the Republicans is that I lied when I said Valerie had nothing to do with my being assigned to go to Niger. That's important to the administration because there's a criminal investigation underway, and if she did play a role, divulging her CIA status may be defendable.
Wilson then recycles his "believe the anonymous leaks" defense, which has not grown less silly with the passage of time. To respond briefly, a bipartisan committee had a chance to gather evidence from these people, who would have had an opportunity to both defend Wilson and endure the consequences of any possible lies. Anonymous leaks don't reach that level (and given Mr. Wilson's own grim history with anonymous leaks, my confidence in his friends and the press process is less than 100%).
On another front, my enemies claim I based my conclusions about the Niger claim on documents that the Senate report now suggests I couldn't have seen. But the truth is that I made it clear in the New York Times article that I had never seen the written documents concerning the alleged sale between Iraq and Niger.
The Senate report noted his problems with anonymous leaks prior to his July 6 op-ed, a point Mr. Wilson declines to acknowledge here.
Finally, it has been suggested that my work for the CIA, rather than debunking the Niger claim, supported it. Although some analysts continued to believe that the Iraqis were interested in purchasing Niger uranium, that is a far cry from Bush's claim in the State of the Union: "British intelligence has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." My report said there was no evidence that such a thing occurred in Niger.
His report included mention of Iraqi contacts that senior Niger officials thought might be about the purchase of uranium. His report also included his belief that such a sale had not ocurred. These are different points. If I see a teenager walk out of a liquor store with a look of disgust and say to his friends, "Darn, they wouldn't fall for my fake ID", do I conclude that this kid will never succeed in scoring some liquor for a hearty party? And am I even wasting my time and yours explaining this? Just see conclusion 13 in the Senate report on p. 73.
Wilson's big finish - the attacks on Wilson should not obscure the facts - the Adminstration backed down on the 16 Words, his wife was outed, and we went to war without finding WMDs.
Those are certainly some of the facts. We continue to be interested in media accountability, and the judgement of John Kerry in keeping a guy like Wilson around. And I will continue to be interested until the orchestrated campaign ends and the fillings in my teeth go silent.
UPDATE: Bring 'em in for questioning! What about this "patriotic fervor" quip, anyway?