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July 23, 2004



That's a wordy but ultimately weak attempt to turn focus away from the real issue. The onus to defend the 16 scary words in the SOTU is on the POTUS. Not the whistleblower you're trying so hard to smear.

It's really not for someone else, even if he was in a position to be the first to point it out publicly, to prove Bush's statements are baseless, when the White House has admitted they were.

Your kneejerk defense is threadbare, and endlessly twisting Wilson's words won't change what POTUS did: he fibbed to get his war approved. And got caught.


Great and well-deserved rejection of Drum's bizarre non-sequitirs and counter-factual dogma. However ....

The WH "backing down" isn't an argument, and like everything else in the Wilson non-case, is not relevant to the matter at hand -- whether in fact there were Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium in Africa. The backing-down doesn't even touch on the substance of the intel report cited in the SOTU -- nor does it constitute evidence of any dishonety or manipulation.

That was an incompetent White House, not a confused one. Wilson's limited information as presented in his op-ed didn't provide any evidence of manipulation, didn't even pretend to bear directly on the subject (the British assessment), and since it was focused only on Niger immediately raised the question of whether it even dealt with the right country or countries (surprise, seems it didn't). This was all obvious to many on July 6, 2003, who were utterly astounded by the WH's response.

Mimimally competent staff work would have produced a well-crafted dismissal of Wilson's off-topic slanders by dinner time (his report added little and maybe even corroboration, forged documents not part of Brit effort, etc. -- all readily ascertainable info to a WH thinking clearly and using the phone). Instead, we got the circular firing squad -- and the current situation, where it looks almost as if the only intel-related part of the SOTU deemed "unfit" for such a speech is looking like the most accurate one!

Don't you fundamentally misstate the situation here when you say "Now, the CIA eventually found out they were wrong ...."?

Maybe I'm confused, but I thought both the British (3 times) and the SSCI in fact found the Brit assessment that is the subject of the whole brouhaha (referenced in the SOTU) to be reasonable and well-founded. In the realm of public information, I thought the accuracy of assessments re Iraqi uranium acquisition efforts remained indeterminate, while they had been found reasonable by the several official reviews. Am I misreading this part of your post?


Pointing out lies about weapons of mass destruction used to be something the left was very big on doing... Now it's a "smear."


That's a wordy but ultimately weak attempt to turn focus away from the real issue.

I happen to think that the real issue is whether the Yankees have enough pitching to win the World Series.

But on the subject of Joe Wilson, I think the questions about his credibility, media accountability, and Kerry's judgement in keeping him around are at least as "real" as your belief that this is all about the (eminently defensible) 16 Words.

Especially since the 16 Words were true, well founded, and hardly the only basis for going to war.

Eric Anondson

Seems that the only times the anti-Bush partisans rave about the CIA is when the CIA's analysis concludes the US should do nothing to defend itself. Do folks forget so quick that this is the same agency that fell on its ass Sept. 11th, 2001? Besides the Patriot Act, what changed about the CIA since 9/11 and the "16 words"?

This deconstruction of what "evidence" actually means, and the raising of the bar by tin-foil helmet critics of Bush for what acting upon the "evidence" should be allowed is very distracting about what the state of the world was like between 9/11 and the "16 words".

Forgotten was how the US and UK were enforcing No-Fly zones that Ba'athists were in constant violation of. Forgotten is what happened that caused those No-Fly zones to get created; they were aspects of the armistice from the the 1991 Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Forgotten is that that war was never over, and that Saddam declared he would overcome his temporary defeat. Forgotten is that while the Kurds in the north were functionally independent, they were not free, nor sovereign, nor could protect their territory, and that the UN recognized only Saddam's territorial sovereignty upon the land; thus why Saddam let Ansar al-Islam (the al-Qaeda splinter) to exist within Iraq's borders, Ansar fought the rebelling Kurds to the north. Forgotten is that after a decade, weapons inspectors and ALL the world's intelligence agencies believed that Saddam was acting upon his publicly stated intent to rebuild (not shut down) his WMD industry. Forgotten are the thousands of dollars Saddam paid to each suicide-bomber's family to reward killing of Jews. Forgotten are the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that Saddam allowed to die of starvation while he violated the terms that ended hostilities from his 1991 invasion of Kuwait and diverted Oil-for-Food resources to rebuilding his military so as to tyrannize his country and sabre-rattle against his neighbors.

It is amongst this environment that the "16 words" have meaning. And amongst all this "evidence", they were only "16 words" more added to the encyclopedia-worth of evidence against Saddam that he was a serious potential threat in the US' post-9/11 worldview. Saddam's threat wasn't in direct action against the US, his threat (in the post-9/11 worldview) was in how al-Qaeda could leverage Saddam's resources against the US.


When someone such as Drum uses the word "overembellishing" (is there really such a word?), I think you can conclude that his argument is long over. Perhaps his writing career should be, too.

J Mann

To be more fair to Wilson than he deserves, Wilson didn't find evidence to suggest that Saddam had sought "significant" quantities of uranium in Africa.

He didn't disprove the statement either, of course. What he did find, according to him, was (1) some evidence that Saddam extended one or two tentative invitations to trade uranium in Niger and (2) some evidence that Saddam had not been successful in even opening negotiations.

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