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August 01, 2005

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» Plame Game Update - 6 "Novak Speaks" from Macmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense
As I said here, Harlow is/was full of crap. He didn't have to hang up and go and check out Plame's status - he could have found out by the computer on his desk. Additionally I have real doubts, having worked there, that the Spokesman of the CIA didn'... [Read More]

» Novak Breaks His Silence from Decision '08
Infuriated over what he considers a slur on his reputation by ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, Bob Novak has, against the advice of his attorneys, spoken out at last about the Plame affair. Specifically, Harlow implies that Novak went to print with an a... [Read More]

» Rove Was On The Grassy Knoll, Update VI from Flopping Aces
In the end there was no crime committed by naming her, but there may be some interesting stuff coming from this grand jury....I have a feeling it won't be going the left's way once again. [Read More]

Comments

Martin

Remember when Rove told Cooper information would be declassified soon? What information" would that be?

What if the WH had ordered Plame's status be declassified before they started the newsfeed-so everything would be hunky-dory when the cloums came out?

What if somebody at the CIA refused to declassify it as a revenge play, or maybe it was just incompetence, e.g. they lost the request and it never got processed?

Novak was then calling the CIA as a formality, and thought he was dealing with a not in the know press hack-so he felt comfortable going ahead.

Yet somehow Plame's status stayed classified-and not only do Rove, Libby, and Novhack all have egg on their face-it's a traitor omelette.

Jimmy's Attack Rabbit

Nada-gate is still going on? I thought Jimmy C. was sending clear signals it was time to get back to Club Gitmo wailing. (j/k).
I'd like to thank the Plame Blogcasting Network for keeping track of this burning issue. ......Really! It just cracks me up to read who burns up their credibilty attacking the Administration on this.

Christopher Fotos

What galls me about the latest Novak go-round is that we need an opinion columnist to correct the record about Joe Wilson's claims--unrebutted in last Wednesday's Pincus/VandeHei story--that Plame had nothing to do with Wilson going to Niger. Then there's the other claim that Wilson established Iraq had not sought uranium in Niger. The Senate Intelligence Committee found otherwise, but Wilson's original claims seem to have a new lease on life--partly thanks to the Washington Post.

Guess we're all waiting for the day when Novak can tell all. What are the chances that after Fitzgerald wraps it up, Novak declares some new wringle prevents him from ever telling his side of the story?

Crank

TM, I'm starting to picture a room in your house with copies of stories about Plame plastered all over the walls, with color-coded highlighting and everything. Keep up the great work.

Jeff

TM - Another item that points to a concerted effort to maximize, even falsify, Plame's role in Wilson's trip is Pincus' report that his source told him that Plame set up the trip as a boondoggle. Recall that Pincus wasn't buying it even at the time, and for me there is still the question of why that is. But in any case, you've got another SAO telling a reporter that the White House's story is that Plame set up -- not a synonym of "authorized" but of pretty equal strength and falsity, I would say -- Wilson's trip. On what Novak asked Harlow -- suggested, or authorized -- we really do have a he said, he said, with several suggestions that Novak's allies were pushing the stronger version.

Remember too that we have plausible claims that the SSCI went too far even in saying that Plame suggested Wilson for the trip. All we've got is a brief quote out of a memo from Plame, which could very well, as has been suggested, been written in response to a request of some kind. This jibes with the information coming out of the CIA itself. I'm glad you're willing to characterize the Senators as aggressive, in any case. I think that's right.

One other thing: there's something strange going on with this INR memo business, at least in the TIME article. Look at the description and the relevant dating of the memo discussed in the article. It is probably sloppy writing, but it sure doesn't sound like the INR memo we've all been talking about.

Christopher Fotos - Could you cite the relevant text for the claim Wilson made about his wife having nothing to do with it, and cite it fully. I've never seen a substantial citation, which means at least a couple of sentences around the one allegedly self-condemning sentence. I'm not ready to defend Wilson on this ground. But I'd like to see it. I think somewhat more strongly that Wilson did not claim that he had established that Iraq had not sought uranium in Niger. I'd like to see the evidence for that one as well. I'll add this too: Novak's initial effort at restoring his honor and dignity -- the column of October 1, 2003 -- is filled with falsehoods that look to me like deliberate ones. Not impressive at all. It's curious to me too that Novak always says he's not talking at the advice of his lawyer, as opposed to everyone else, who seems to say it's at the request of the prosecutor. I wonder why that is.

Appalled Moderate

Jeff:

This is how the NYT describes the INR memo:

"The memorandum was dated June 10, 2003, nearly four weeks before Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for The New York Times in which he recounted his mission and accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq. The memorandum was written for Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, and it referred explicitly to Valerie Wilson as Mr. Wilson's wife, according to a government official who reread the document on Friday."

This would be utterly consistent with the Time Magazine squib:

"The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research."

The Time piece then goes on to indicate the White House also requested information, though when these requests were made is vague. Frankly, because everyone has their eyes on Rove, they are forgetting the more obvious question -- what did the Vice President's office (and chief of staff) know about an operation that was allegedly run at their behest.

Don't follow the reporters. They need motion and novelty and a new angle. Usually, the result is another irrelevancy or a red herring. Follow the investigators. The ultimate end of their work is where there will be a scandal or a lack of it. (Because, the world has now adjusted to the fact Rove lied about his involvement and Bush is not going to fire him over it. The goalposts, they are a movin.)

Christopher Fotos

Jeff--as recounted by Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post on July 10, 2004:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly...

The story is based on the Senate Intelligence Committee report released last summer.

The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said. ...

For more context, including more of what you're after, you need to go to the Senate Intelligence Committee report itself. The link to the report is available at the Schmidt story.

There's also a little bit in there about Novak et al.


Joe Mealyus

"....superficially, the Harlow/Novak dispute looks like an insoluble "he said/he said" problem."

But only superficially. The Daily Howler is very good on this point (see July 29) - "Novak and Harlow *disagree* on nothing," as he says.

"However, this sort of debacle - a nationally syndicated columnist ignores a clear warning from the CIA press office and outs a covert agent - does not happen every day, or even every decade."

And as any close follower of this whole case should know, one of the key facts in dispute is whether there was any "debacle"
at all - how much the CIA (as communicated by Harlow or as an institution, either way) cared about Plame's status. (Somerby is very good on the pointless argument Rove-haters make that the CIA referral by itself proves anything).

"In any proper bureaucracy, a miscommunication of this magnitude would have produced a mountain of memos."

Sure. And if intelligent assets overseas were truly imperiled by the outing of Plame, then somewhere those assets are awaiting an intrepid NYT or Wapo reporter to find them and tell us their story - but nothing of this sort has occurred, as far as I know. (This doesn't mean that people weren't imperiled, of course, just as no news about the "mountain of memos" doesn't mean they weren't written).

The Daily Howler is not only the go-to parser on the Novak v. Harlow angle, it's also doing yeoman work on another JOM specialty - detailing the poor reading comprehension of Daily Kos posters (see July 30).

Jeff

Appalled Moderate - Unless the public affairs office of the CIA contacted Plame's unit during the second week of June, then there's this inconsistency: the INR memo is reportedly dated June 10 -- second week of June. TIME seems to say Grossman asked for and received the memo during the first week of June. Second inconsistency: the INR memo, I thought, was reported to mention Wilson's trip and his wife only tangentially, marginally, and/or in a footnote or two. TIME describes the memo as "a memo on the Wilson trip." Any explanation for those two inconsistencies? Sloppy reporting? They really are referring to the second week of June, as that's when the CIA public affairs office contacted Plame's unit?

I have not had my eyes only on Rove -- and I remain appalled that Rove has brought such dishonor and indignity to the White House. Even if he is not ultimately indicted.

Christopher Fotos - No, I've already addressed the SSCI report, which is what you give me along with Steno Susan Schmidt's quote unquote reporting on it. You did remind me, however, that the only basis for the claim by the SSCI I can see is actually the CIA official's recalling that Wilson's wife "offered up" his name. You can see that the aggressive Senators (as TM is now calling them) who produced the SSCI report were out to get Wilson. For instance, I am pretty sure that Wilson never asserted that the CIA did tell the White House that it had qualms about the reliability of the intelligence that led to the 16 words in the SOTU. (Even though I believe it did -- though that is another issue, having to do with the fact that the CIA told the president it had qualms about the intelligence earlier, leading to a similar claim in the Cincinnati speech being removed, but then Tenet failed to do so again regardint the SOTU, or something like that. It's another topic where there has been a lot of obfuscation from the administration and their supporters in the Senate.)

What I want is the claim by Wilson that you all say is untrue and contradicted. The memoir - what page is the reference? I'd like to have a look at more than one or two sentences. What was "the matter" he referred to?

Appalled Moderate

Jeff:

Put your money on sloppy writing in Time. The new info in that article is the Pincus request and vague inferences the White House asked for info. This feels like a sentence thrown in to bring these new items into some kind of timeline with the already known information.

Rove should be fired. He won't be. My behind is chapped on this because if that lie had not been told in 2003 (he's not involved), I think the outrage over the disclosures people did know about (the Hardball call -- Plame is "fair game") would have combined with the other disclosures to force him out.

Jeff

Joe Mealyus - Okay, let's talk reading comprehension. Here's the WaPo on Harlow:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

From this, it certainly appears that the incorrect story Novak had related to Harlow, according to Harlow, included the claim that Plame authorized Wilson's trip. Novak appears to dispute that. That is a pretty clear disagreement.

Jeff

TM - Looking over the WaPo story on Harlow reminded me of another piece of testimony suggesting that Novak et al - in this instance, Novak himself - were deliberately and concertedly pushing the line that Plame authorized, set up, had arranged Wilson's trip. This is the unnamed individual, stranger to Novak and friend of Wilson, who approached Novak on the street and heard about it from Novak -- to be sure, our source for this information is Joe Wilson, but apparently the person has been questioned by the grand jury, and according to Wilson's book, if I remember the reports, this individual immediately went to Wilson's office, recounted what s/he had experienced, and wrote out and signed and dated some kind of text to that effect. So this one is provisional - but it seems to me there is a pretty significant body of evidence so far that Novak was involved in a deliberate effort to circulate a known falsehood - that Plame, not the Vice President, had authorized Wilson's trip. It is of course true that Cheney did not authorize Wilson's trip, and I don't believe Wilson ever claimed that he did. In his op-ed he laid out the chain of events that led to his trip, best as he understood them, with great precision and clarity. Kristof was less clear and precise, though not incorrect -- "at the behest of" is rather ambiguous, but I've not heard anyone explain why we should blame Wilson for that.

Florence Schmieg

I think that I read that Joe Wilson adamantly stated on "Meet the Press" that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Niger. I have read so much that I don't really have a reference to give for it.

I still don't see why some of you want to fire someone for not committing a crime as I suspect is the truth. And, most appalling, not believing in the innocent until proven guilty aspect of American justice.

Syl

Jeff

What Novak said in his piece was "Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him..."

Note the word 'suggested', not 'authorized'.

Joe Mealyus

"Joe Mealyus - Okay, let's talk reading comprehension."

Note first of all that Somerby and the Kos guy were writing before Novak wrote this.

Then note that there has never been any contradiction - re "Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission" - since Novak did not put any such statement into his article. That's one of the reasons why Somerby is saying they don't disagree - Harlow says he told Novak she didn't authorize the mission, and Novak didn't write that she did. The "pretty clear disagreement" is about what Novak said to Harlow, not about what he wrote in his column - i.e. it's trivial.

boris

It is difficult for me to take the following at face value ...

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

I have no problem with the logic that V.P. could have CIA designated status of undercover operative, who was not in fact undercover at the time.

I have a big problem with the idea that she was undercover while openly working at CIA headquarters as an analyst.

Jeff

Florence Schmieg - What a tiresome response! The whole point of my asking for actual text on Wilson is that the sort of information you're floating yet again gets passed around until it is what the Red Staters call a Known Fact - roughly, something everybody supposedly knows that in fact is not a fact. So cites and links would be helpful.

I already anticipated this sort of response on Rove. Are your morals really so stripped by just five years of the Bush administration that as long as someone has not committed a crime, their job in the most important place in the world -- the White House -- is safe? Are you serious? I believe -- I bet more than you -- in the legal standard that someone is innocent until proven guilty. But again, it is not only legal guilt that qualifies someone -- in this case, far and away President Bush's most improtant and trusted advisor -- for being fired from being the President of the United States' closest advisor. Karl Rove dishonored the White House, and robbed it of some of its dignity, whether he committed a crime or not, and those are President Bush's standards themselves. I have no idea whether Rove is going to be indicted. But I think Rove should be fired on the basis of what we already know. Evidently, for you only a criminal indictment is enough.

boris

it seems to me there is a pretty significant body of evidence so far that Novak was involved in a deliberate effort to circulate a known falsehood - that Plame, not the Vice President, had authorized Wilson's trip.

It seems to me there isn't.

I don't believe Wilson ever claimed that he did.

True, but if reporters were bringing up the subject to Rove under the misunderstanding that that was the case, it doesn't matter what Wilson technically wrote or what impression he intended to imply. The misunderstanding itself was reason enough to address it and set the record straight.

Jeff

Joe Mealyus - You acknowledge that there is a disagreement over what Novak said to Harlow. You call it trivial. I don't think it is, since the story that Plame authorized Wilson's trip appears to be a major, false talking point in the twin attacks launched from the White House against Wilson and the CIA.

Syl, to be crystal clear, look at today's Novak piece and the WaPo piece on Harlow. It's not a question of what Novak wrote in his original piece, it's a question of what Novak said to Harlow.

Which reminds me: I'm not quite sure why TM says that Novak's first source had it right. On a scenario consistent with Harlow's version, Novak's two sources push the line that Plame authorized Wilson's trip. Harlow shoots that down. Novak can't publish it, and doesn't. Unless TM has some reason to think Novak's version is the definitive one.

One last thing to bolster the idea that Novak's version is right. It's plausible that Harlow would deny that Plame suggested her husband, since it appears quite plausible that Plame did not suggest her husband. Or maybe she offered up his name along with five others. Who knows? The SSCI report doesn't tell us much, or as much as they tell us they tell us.

Syl

Jeff

Known Fact? You mean like Bush lied and plastic turkey?

chortle

Anyway, you've got fingers. You can use Google yourself.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'What I want is the claim by Wilson that you all say is untrue and contradicted. The memoir - what page is the reference? I'd like to have a look at more than one or two sentences.'

Then go to the library, grab a copy of The Politics of Truth, look in the index for 'Valerie Plame', and READ IT for yourself.

'It is of course true that Cheney did not authorize Wilson's trip, and I don't believe Wilson ever claimed that he did. .... Kristof was less clear and precise, though not incorrect -- "at the behest of" is rather ambiguous....'

You are a blithering idiot. If you can find your way to a library, after you read Joe Wilson writing that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Niger, wander over to the dictionaries and look up 'behest'.

Hell, I'll do it for your little lost self:

Behest n. A command. A mandate. An injunction

Patrick R. Sullivan

'I'm not quite sure why TM says that Novak's first source had it right.'

That's because you appear not to comprehend simple English

.On a scenario consistent with Harlow's version, Novak's two sources push the line that Plame authorized Wilson's trip. Harlow shoots that down. Novak can't publish it, and doesn't. Unless TM has some reason to think Novak's version is the definitive one.'

Other than what Novak ACTUALLY WROTE in the July 14, 2003 column?

Jeff

Okay, Patrick, you're ridiculously abusive, so I'm inclined not to respond, but I don't want you to think I concede you're right, since you're not. On Novak v. Harlow, it actually appears to be you who doesn't understand. Here's my reading: TM implies Novak's other administration source beside Rove told Novak Plame suggested, not authorized, Wilson's trip. I say that requires believing Novak's version of his interaction with Harlow, rather than Harlow, and it's unclear to me why we should. I then laid out the alternative scenario where Novak publishes "suggested" on the 14th of July not because of what his first source told him but because of what Harlow told him. Now you tell me what I'm misunderstanding. Or confess your own.

I will in fact read all of Wilson's book myself, I was just hoping that those who were making the accusations could provide the evidence for discussion.

On Kristof's phrasing, here's what I had in mind. Aside from the fact that "behest" can also mean "bidding" -- which is less strong, less obligatory than command, injunction etc -- what Kristof does is condense a several step process, probably explained to him by Wilson as he explains it in his op-ed, into that phrase. Cheney or Cheney's office tasks the CIA with looking into the reports about Niger-Iraq-uranium. The CIA comes up with the idea of sending someone to Niger to fulfill that injunction. The CIA comes up with Wilson as the specific person to go to Niger, hence to look into the reports, hence to fulfill the injunction from Cheney's office. Would I have written it that way? No. I have no brief for Kristof. Was Kristof being deliberately misleading? I doubt it. But let's say I'm a blithering idiot, as you suggest, and Kristof was crystal clear, and incorrect, in claiming that one fine day Dick Cheney walked up to Joe Wilson and said, "My young man, go to Niger to look into reports that Iraq tried to acquire uranium there." Guess what? When he published in his own name, Joe Wilson set the record straight on that one. And then the actual point of the sentence you take me to task for stands. Wilson is not to blame for what Kristof wrote.

MJW

Jeff denies Wilson said he was sent by the Vice President's office or that he claimed the information from his report made it back to the White House. I believe this CNN report shows he is mistaken. In it, Wilson says he was sent "at the request I was told of the office of the vice president, which had seen a report in intelligence channels about this purported memorandum of agreement on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq." Later, in discussing whether his report made it back to the VP's office, he said, "the standard operating procedure when we were there, of course, was that if you tasked at my level and above an executive branch agency with a specific question, you received a specific response. Now, clearly somebody in the vice president's office is within that circle that Dr. Rice is speaking of. That person or that office asked the question and that office received a very specific response."

Martin

The fact that you guys are castigating Wilson by pushing the "his wife sent him" ON THIS VERY THREAD is exactly why the White House leaked it in the first place.

What tools you are.

MJW

Jeff claims behest doesn't necessarily imply a command because it can also mean bidding. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines bid as "to issue an order : TELL." In a usage note under command, it says: "BID suggests giving orders peremptorily as to children or servants."

Martin

Yes MJW and the White House bid you to trash Wilson and you have complied. Are you a child or a servant?

Jeff

MJW - Yeah, no, even aside from the fact that Wilson specifies that he's reporting what he was told, what he's saying is that his trip was the result of Cheney's office's tasking the CIA with looking into the intelligence reports, which it was. He had just explained it in greater detail in his op-ed. Clearly, Wilson is interested in tying his trip to the administration, and the VP's office more particularly. Is he misleading here, is he suggesting the VP came up to him and said, Joe, I've got a trip for you? Certainly not more misleading than the administration was in response.

As for what happened with the report generated by his trip, I think Wilson is very clear that he is talking about what should have and ordinarily would have happened -- and he is very explicit about the basis for that claim. So he is very clearly not making a claim about what he knows did happen.

A really interesting question, for me, to which I don't think we have an answer, is: did the Vice President's office receive a response to its question that included information about WIlson's trip? Tenet's statement of July 11 2003 and the SSCI certainly seek to leave the impression that the report generated by Wilson's trip was not seen by anyone high up in the administration, but I don't think they actually assert that. (Uh oh, here comes Patrick R. Sullivan to call me a blithering idiot who can't read English, just when I think I'm being a pretty careful reader and a thoughtful analyst of this whole nest of issues. Or maybe not.) So it would be interesting to have someone in the Vice President's office authoritatively answer the question, Did the VP or anyone in his office ever see, hear about, or otherwise access the report generated by Wilson's trip, or gain any information about the results of Wilson's trip before May 2003? If so, when, how, and what, exactly? This should happen in the name of openness, transparency and the public's right to know about our democratic government.

Jeff

MJW - Two things. I'm using the OED, which trumps Webster's any day, in my book. I also just think in ordinary usage doing something at someone's behest is less strong, less obligatory than doing something at someone's command. But anyway, even if I'm wrong, even if I give you that one, the substance of my response stands. That's why I wrote, "Aside from the fact . . ."

This is an example of something I find a little frustrating here, which I may also participate in. People go after this point or that point, without keeping track of the points that their adversaries get right, which is not important in itself but is important for keeping track of the main lines of interpretation of argument over Plame et al.

MJW

Martin asks: "Remember when Rove told Cooper information would be declassified soon? What information would that be?" He then proceeds to spin a theory based, essentially, on nothing. It seems reasonable to assume Rove was referring to the statement issued later that same day by George Tenet concerning the situation surrounding the "sixteen words" in the State of the Uion address. A statement which undoubtedly contained some previously classified material.

I also should point out that if the President wants to declassify something, he doesn't need the CIA's permission. He, not the CIA, is the boss of the executive branch.

MJW

So, Jeff, just out of curiosity, what is the OED's definition of bidding?

MJW

Jeff - I read the CNN interview differently. It sounds to me like Wilson is saying the White House received his report and chose to ignore it. I believe there's plenty of other evidence to support my interpretation. For example, in the same interview, Hemmer quotes Rice about not knowing about Wilson's report, ending with, "You say that is not possible. Why not?" Wilson doesn't say, "Well, it might be possible." Instead he explains why it allegedly isn't possible.

In regard to whether Wison claimed the trip was at the bidding of the VP's office: First, I'm not sure why the comment "it was reported to me" substantially alters the meaning, unless Wilson was hinting he had doubts about the accuracy of the report -- which I don't see. Second, even if we ignore this more-or-less direct claim, Wilson clearly implied he was sent by the VP and did nothing to dispel that impression. I suggest anyone who doubts this read the articles written at the time of the original controversy. For instance, this CNN story stating that "In an op-ed piece published in Sunday's New York Times, Wilson wrote that the CIA sent him to Niger in February 2002 at the request of Vice President Dick Cheney's office." Or this newspaper story which says, "Wilson says he was sent on behalf of Vice President Cheney." Or this blog which says Wilson was sent "at the behest of Dick Cheney to investigate the veracity of the Niger evidence." Or this much publicised open">http://www.counterpunch.org/vips07142003.html">open letter from the self-styled "Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity" claiming that Joseph Wilson was "the former US ambassador who visited Niger at Cheney's request."

TM

The English as she is spoke...

A word we haven't fought over (but the day is young... is "boondoggle".

From my Merriam webster - "a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft."

Now, most folks associate "corporate boondoggle" with good times - the companygolf outing, for example.

But the word is also used in the "waste of time" sense. Which might be all that Pincus was trying to say here - no one claims that a trip to Niger is a fun-filled frolic, buit it looked like (to the INR staffer, certainly) a waste of time.

As to Jeff's notion that Novak moved from "authorized" to "suggested" after talking to Harlow, I suggested that myself a few days back, so I am not in a position to say it is a terrible idea.

However, Novak ought to be reporting, not editorializing - unless he went back to his source for clarification, or checked his notes, or something, he had a bit of a problem.

Of course, he eventually wrote "suggested", as did Cooper - maybe he did check back, or maybe his first source used "suggested" or "involved", or maybe Cooper misquoted Rove.

TM

Let's get the Noval quote from the Wilson book (p. 343 / firstpage of Ch. 17):

My friend then asked whaT Novak thought of me and Novak answered:

"Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him".

The CIA sent him, she sent him... what does it mean, and who dares enter the mind of Bob Novak? Maybe he is completing a syllogism in his head, and trying it out on a live audience.

This will be unambiguous for some, I presume.

There is also a full paragraph on p. 346 explaining the perils of the appearance of nepotism, and denying her involvement. I don't get paid enough for this, but:

Quite apart form the matter of her employment, the assertion that Valerie had played any substantive role in the decision to ask me ot go to Niger was false on the face of it. Anyone who knows anything about the government bureaucracy knows that public servants go to great lengths to avoid nepotism or any appearance of it... Valerie could not havce stood in the chain of command had she tried to. Dick Cheney might be able to find a way to appoint one of his daughters to a key decision-making position in the Staet Dept's Middle East Bureau, as he did; but Valerie could not - and would not if she could - have had anything to do with the CIA decision to ask me to travel to Niamey.

[SKIP A Few Paragraphs...

So what of she conveyed a request to me to come to the Agency to talk about Niger? She played absolutely no part in the decision to send me there.

Lots of folks took that to be a denial of her involvement. It also suggests he is quite sensitive about the nepotism thing.

Lesley

"So what of she conveyed a request to me to come to the Agency to talk about Niger? She played absolutely no part in the decision to send me there."

It really does beg the question, had Valerie Plame not worked at CIA, would Joseph Wilson had been their first choice for the Niger mission?

MJW

I'm skeptical of the notion that Novak moved from authorized to suggested after talking to Harlow. The CIA line at the time seems to be that Plame had NOTHING to do with the trip, as evidenced by this quote:

"A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked 'alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger. But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. 'They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,' he said. 'There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,' he said. 'I can't figure out what it could be ..."

Perhaps the "senior intelligence official" was Harlow, himself. In any case, this still seems to be Harlow's opinion, despite evidence to the contrary.

I don't think it's logical that Novak decided to "split the difference" between authorized and no invlovement to come up with suggested.

But, then again, he did credit Rove as a second source because he'd "heard that too," so, who really knows?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Okay, Patrick, you're ridiculously abusive...'

Oh no, I'm just soft tossing a few from in front of the mound in the bullpen right now.

'... I don't want you to think I concede you're right, since you're not.'

Suppose a group of Vikings had been on a voyage of rape and pillage and, having had their ship filled with booty, turned around and went home. But, on the way back, at this dinky little hamlet they'd ignored before, they see that the inhabitants have hung up a banner reading, 'Vikings are nothing but big stupid idiots.'

How do you think that would have played out?

'TM implies Novak's other administration source beside Rove told Novak Plame suggested, not authorized, Wilson's trip. I say that requires believing Novak's version of his interaction with Harlow...'

No, just the plain English sentence he wrote in his July 14, 2003 column.

'...I then laid out the alternative scenario where Novak publishes "suggested" on the 14th of July not because of what his first source told him but because of what Harlow told him. Now you tell me what I'm misunderstanding.'

Occam's Razor.

'Or confess your own.'

That I should have simply dropped a Daisy Cutter on you in the earlier post.

'I will in fact read all of Wilson's book myself...'

After you finish posting several thousand words talking about it?

'...I was just hoping that those who were making the accusations could provide the evidence for discussion.'

What did you think referencing his own book was, if not evidence?

'On Kristof's phrasing, here's what I had in mind. Aside from the fact that "behest" can also mean "bidding" -- which is less strong...'

Same dictionary; bidding, n. a command, an invitation, a summons.

'...less obligatory than command, injunction etc...'

The question is one of the CONNECTION between Wilson and Cheney, not if he was obliged to accept the mission.

'...what Kristof does is condense a several step process, probably explained to him by Wilson...'

No kidding.

'....The CIA comes up with Wilson as the specific person to go to Niger, hence to look into the reports, hence to fulfill the injunction from Cheney's office. Would I have written it that way? No. I have no brief for Kristof. Was Kristof being deliberately misleading? I doubt it.'

He was reporting what Joe and Valerie told him.

'But let's say I'm a blithering idiot...'

We could simply let you continue talking.

' as you suggest'

More like 'authorize'.

'...and Kristof was crystal clear, and incorrect... Guess what? When he published in his own name, Joe Wilson set the record straight on that one.'

By writing on July 6, 2003:

'The vice-president asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and have every confidence that the answer I provided...'

And, then, on Sept. 14, 2003 in the San Jose Mercury News:

'At the request of the Administration I traveled to the West African nation of Niger in February 2002...'

Which is exactly what he told Kristoff.

'And then the actual point of the sentence you take me to task for stands. Wilson is not to blame for what Kristof wrote.'

Wilson is absolutely to blame for what Kristoff wrote, because Kristoff wrote up Wilson's delusions of grandeur as related by Joe Wilson.

Joe Mealyus

Jeff (1): "I don't think [the disagreement over what Novak said to Harlow] is [trivial], since the story that Plame authorized Wilson's trip appears to be a major, false talking point in the twin attacks launched from the White House against Wilson and the CIA."

Jeff (2): "So this one is provisional - but it seems to me there is a pretty significant body of evidence so far that Novak was involved in a deliberate effort to circulate a known falsehood - that Plame, not the Vice President, had authorized Wilson's trip."

If Novak had written on July 3, 2003 that "Plame authorized Wilson's trip," or anything that could be construed as such, your point would make perfect sense. But since he didn't, I'm simply perplexed as to what your possible point might be. Novak is guilty of colloboration in the plot to spread a "false talking point" or "known falsehood" even though he didn't put it into his column?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'...I think Wilson is very clear that he is talking about what should have and ordinarily would have happened...So he is very clearly not making a claim about what he knows did happen.'

Joe Wilson in his own words (7-6-03):

'...in United States government archives confirming my mission....a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally)....

'...I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.'

Back to Jeff:

'A really interesting question, for me, to which I don't think we have an answer, is: did the Vice President's office receive a response to its question that included information about WIlson's trip? Tenet's statement of July 11 2003 and the SSCI certainly seek to leave the impression...'

By flatly denying that Cheney was informed of Wilson's trip.

'...that the report generated by Wilson's trip was not seen by anyone high up in the administration, but I don't think they actually assert that.'

'I don't think', ought to be your tag line.

'(Uh oh, here comes Patrick R. Sullivan to call me a blithering idiot who can't read English, just when I think I'm being a pretty careful reader and a thoughtful analyst of this whole nest of issues. Or maybe not.)'

By being ignorant of the facts, by ignoring Occam's Razor, by employing circular reasoning.

' So it would be interesting to have someone in the Vice President's office authoritatively answer the question, Did the VP or anyone in his office ever see, hear about, or otherwise access the report...'

From Meet the Press, Sept 14, 2003:

---------quote---------
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Ambassador Joe Wilson...says he came back from Niger and said that.... Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. ....And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.
----------endquote---------

'This should happen in the name of openness, transparency and the public's right to know about our democratic government.'

Think of me as your civics teacher.

Jeff

There's a lot to address, but for the moment, going from the bottom. Patrick R. Sullivan - Cheney speaks the truth and does not answer the question. He says, "He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back." We know that Wilson himself never submitted a report. A report was generated by others after debriefing him on the day of his return from Niger (or maybe it was the day after). Hence the care of my initial formulation, including the part after the ellipses that you quote from me. So try again on that one.

Joe Mealyus

Jeff (1): "This is an example of something I find a little frustrating here, which I may also participate in. People go after this point or that point, without keeping track of the points that their adversaries get right, which is not important in itself but is important for keeping track of the main lines of interpretation of argument over Plame et al."

Jeff (2): "It is of course true that Cheney did not authorize Wilson's trip, and I don't believe Wilson ever claimed that he did. In his op-ed he laid out the chain of events that led to his trip, best as he understood them, with great precision and clarity."

JustOneMinute I believe has made some essential points about Wilson's claims that Jeff has apparently not kept track of, here:
http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/07/josh_marshall_n.html

boris

It does no good to provide facts to consipracy nuts. For them nothing is as it appears so the apparant truth of any fact is just evidence of it's falshood.

SteveMG

I find Bill Harlow's half-hearted attempts to convince Novak not to mention Valerie Plame puzzling. Very puzzling.

Novak's been in Washington a million years; he's probably had thousands of discussions with the CIA over the use of classified intelligence or covert agents. He knows the secret words, so to speak, from the CIA to indicate when something needs to be redacted.

Harlow, too, I'm sure, knows the moves in this kabuki dance. And yet from his and Novak's own account, Harlow never emphatically warned Novak not to mention Plame AT ALL. He just warned Novak not to use her name.

This is just a bizarre case.

Boy, Allen Drury could have really weaved an interesting book out of this affair. 'Course, who reads novels anymore?

SMG

AlanDownunder

It starts when Cheney says "I didn't authorize it - make that clear". Then the admin duly jumps to it to negate what Wilson didn't allege.

kim

Armando's 'false smear'.
=======================

Jeff

MJW - From Wilson's op-ed of July 6 2003:

In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip.

And more (emphasis added):

Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.

So Wilson did not claim that Cheney asked him directly. One thing I realized. You and others may be calling into question the claim that Wilson's trip originated with the Vice President's office. It did, and that is in fact confirmed by the facts presented in the SSCI report -- although the report does toss in the claim that the trip had multiple questions from multiple places (State and DoD, I think) at its origins as well -- although since the CIA's participation seems to have been triggered on the very day that Cheney asked his briefer the fateful question(s) about Niger-Iraq-uranium, the role of State and DoD seems rather more marginal, and the VP's office's role rather closer to exclusive, than the aggressive Senators wanted to make out. My sense is that when right wingers go after Wilson on this, they are trying to blur together two targets: whether Cheney personally asked Wilson -- he didn't -- and whether Cheney (or his office) initiated the process that led to Wilson's trip (he/they did).

This should also serve as a response to Patrick R. Sullivan's previous post on Wilson, which also makes misleading use of ellipses in its citation of Wilson's op-ed. I challenge you, Patrick, to cite where in Tenet's statement or the SSCI report it is flatly denied that Cheney was informed of Wilson's trip. And read more carefully before you cite, this time. I can already tell you it won't work to cite Tenet's line that the CIA did not brief the report to the President or the Vice President, because that, again, does not fully answer the question -- having the report briefed to Cheney was only one way in which he or his office may have become informed of it. Note that Tenet's statement also says that the report received normal and wide distribution. Is it hard to imagine that that normal and wide distribution included Cheney's office, or someone who told Cheney's office about it? I can't recall everything relevant in the SSCI report, so maybe you'll have a better time there. But again, try to be precise. Occam's razor, non-circular reasoning, knowledge of facts and all. I'm not going to reply to your other post, because while it has a couple of funny lines, there's nothing substantive in there not already covered by TM's earlier response. My point is not, of course, that I know for sure that Novak was, in effect, working with White House officials, only that what I'm claiming is coherent (which you've denied).

So Joe Mealyus, yeah, that is the idea, that perhaps Novak was in on the White House's effort to spread disinformation about Wilson. Would that really be so shocking? And for what it's worth, check out Murray Waas' reporting on related matters . (Also at the American Prospect.) And without trying to get into Novak's mind, of course, nor denying ambiguity, this all fits with reading Novak telling Wilson's friend on the street, as cited by TM above, that "She sent him." And from what TM cites from Wilson's book about Wilson's account of his wife's role, he denies any substantive involvement in the decision, and acknowledges explicitly that she played some role in the overall thing. She conveyed a request to Wilson. From what I can tell, all we have of more substantive involvement is the SSCI report saying one CIA official recalls that she "offered up" his name. When? How so? Did she list off five people who the CIA could send, including her husband? Did she only offer up his name? Did someone say, "Hey, your husband, what's his name, he's the perfect candidate for the job, let's get him. Wait a sec, Valerie, what's his name again?" "Joseph Wilson." It would be great to know more -- and I don't see why the SSCI can't or couldn't have been more forthcoming (and please don't start in, "Sources and methods! Compromised! We can't have anyone knowing that there are five people an individual at the CIA thought were perfectly qualified for a trip to Niger to check on discounted reports of Iraq's efforts there!") Plus the SSCI cites a memo she wrote, which was apparently at the request of her superior, a fact unacknowledged by the SSCI report.

Anyway, whatever Wilson's cockiness or sensitivity about nepotism, and even if he was inaccurate or misleading after the fact about how substantive his wife's role was, SO WHAT? And more specifically, so what between May 2003 and July 14 or so, 2003? Go further: say we can settle it outright that she nepotistically suggested Wilson for the trip. SO WHAT? How on earth does that justify Novak outing Plame as an operative? Or more generally, why is that relevant to the twin attacks on Wilson and the CIA carried out by Rove et al? If this was all about setting the record straight, I fail to see how Plame's role is relevant. (Ah, but it all starts to make sense if the idea was to push the idea that not Cheney but Plame was at the origin of Wilson's trip. Authorized, set up, arranged by Plame -- thereby clearing Cheney from his role in the causal chain that led to Wilson's trip.) If it was pushback against the CIA, why not just say, This was the CIA's doing, not ours, and everybody knows the CIA was at odds with the VP's office (only, it turns out that the CIA, or those parts at odds with his office, was closer to the truth than the VP's wishes). Novak could have said to Wilson's friend, "Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent him."

Seven Machos

This conversation is going nowhere.

kim

It's turning blue in the typeface.
===================================

boris

LOL

It's like one of the old Star Trek episodes where Kirk makes the artificial computer brains go bonkers.

Jeff

My blue bad. Sorry about that, and thanks Seven Machos for fixing it so quickly.

Tommy V

Jeff,

Your thoughts rely in certain things that just aren't true.

1. Wilson's conclusions from his trip somehow contradicted the President. Wilson claimed it did, but closer inspection by SSCI determined that, not only did it not contradict the SOTU, but may have even added supporting evidence.

2. Someone was spreading "didinformation" about Wilson. As it turns out, the so-called "pushback" was entirely accurate.

3. That because Wilson didn't specifically say the Vice-President actually sent him, that no one inferred it and there was no misperception circulating in the MSM and DC. Deliberately or not, Wilson's op-ed was interpreted as the VP having something directly to do with Wilson's trip. The VP's office was asked about it, the WH was asked about it, most importantly, Wilson did not correct the record when he was asked about it. It was very clear how is op-ed was being interpreted, whether he specifically stated it or not.

These facts do not lend themselves to a conspiracy of lies issued in order to punish Joe Wilson through his wife for "speaking the truth". It just doesn't add up.

I'm afraid this is going to cost the dems even more credibility when all is said and done. Just because a guy hates Bush like you do, it doesn't mean you hang your hat on him. Joe Wilson? He's just not a serious man.

I mean, come on, Novak is the bad guy now? This is the guy that the Dems are going to fundraise on now? This is what this was all about?

I don't see how you'll get much mileage on Novak for outing a CIA analyst whose husband was very publically taking on the president while simutaneously heralding another reporter for being in jail for contempt of court.

I'm afraid Novak being morally chastised is a very poor replacement for Rove being frog-marched out of the WH.

It becoming increasingly clear that this whole thing is nonsense.

Seven Machos

NOVAK HINTS BOOK WAS SOURCE OF CIA OFFICER'S NAME...

"Developing..."

Seven Machos

Another Novak note: while I recognize that Novak is no liberal Democrat, I'm pretty sure he is a registered Democrat in Illinois.

We all know how well it worked out when the Bush-Rove-evil-bad crowd decided to go after Zell Miller...

kim

J is only two letters from H, and E is the next vowel to A, and FF together look a little like L.

HAL
===

Jeff

Tommy V - If your 1. is true, why all the fuss from the Bush administration? 2. Which part of the pushback was accurate? That Wilson's wife sent him? authorized his trip? set it up? arranged it? That Cheney had nothing to do with it? That there really was a lot of other evidence of Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium in Africa?

3. Perhaps most importantly, the VP's office did have something directly to do with Wilson's trip. Wilson's trip was part of the CIA's effort to respond to the VP's office asking for followup on intelligence about Iraq-Niger-uranium. You accept that, right?

I don't hate Bush, by the way. I hate what he's done to our country. Of course we can disagree over that. I don't even know what it means to hang my hat on him, sorry.

Of course Novak is what we're talking about now because Novak is in the news today. This is something funny about Bush defenders here. When we focus for a while on a particular character and his role in all this, we're accused on being obsessed with that individual. Last week it was Rove. Right now it's Novak. Next week it may well be Hadley. I thought we all recognize that 1)we're doing our best informed speculating, based on extremely imperfect information; 2)that the case clearly has a lot of moving parts and players, so, for instance, focusing on Novak today doesn't mean he's the only potential bad guy or whatever. We're trying to fit him into the larger puzzle. I don't even see any reason to assume that Fitzgerald is only pursuing one line of investigation. Maybe there was lots of different kinds of wrongdoing he's interested in.

Or, obviously, maybe it will turn out that there were none. Which is to say no one will be indicted. Which isn't to say there was no wrongdoing.

You make all sorts of assumptions that are just not correct. The point of what we're doing here, from our different perspectives, I take it, is enjoyable informed speculating and interpretation, along with checking our own against those with different perspectives (this is why I like reading TM). Yeah, I'd be pleased if Karl Rove really did the worst we can imagine he did and he gets indicted for it. I also still think that even from what we now know, Rove acted dishonorably, among other adverbs, and should be fired. But I am also mostly able to keep that separate from trying to look at the evidence we have and figure out how it might and how it cannot fit together, while checking that against others' interpretation like TM's.

Here's an example of your assumptions being out of whack: who on earth are you talking about heralding Miller for being in jail for contempt of court?

kim

NYT
===

Seven Machos

Jeff -- I disagree with you. I bet we disagree on a lot. But you are an evenhanded person. When you make points that I think are wrong, you make even those in a fair way. Ver little of what you say is absurdly loaded or dogmatic.

I wish all the lefties here could be as un-snarky and un-sanctmonious as you are.

vnjagvet

What do you all make of this passage in an article by Anne Kornblut, New York Times Reporter following up on Novak's latest column today (August 2)? It is in the article's last paragraph.

"In the "Who's Who" directory for 2003, personal information about Joseph Wilson includes his origins in Bridgeport, Conn., and the names of his previous wife and his four children. His current wife is listed as Valerie Elise Plame, and their date of marriage, April 3, 1998. There is no mention of her employer."

The last sentence is a red herring, isn't it? This national publication had already revealed the identity of Mrs. Wilson. It was no secret by then that Mr. Wilson's wife was working at the CIA.

Many on this blog have made much of Rove's confirmation of the revelation that Mrs. Wilson was formerly Ms. Plame, asserting that that was the career ruining factoid.

This article establishes that was not the case by showing that the Wilsons themselves had no problem making that connection, doesn't it?

Tommy V

Jeff,

To see how much you have to contort yourself to get to conclusions you want is a little too frustrating for me.

"If your 1. is true, why all the fuss from the Bush administration? "

The SSCI was wrong because if it was right there wouldn't have been such a fuss. That doesn't really work for me.

"2. Which part of the pushback was accurate? That Wilson's wife sent him? authorized his trip? set it up? arranged it? That Cheney had nothing to do with it? That there really was a lot of other evidence of Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium in Africa?"

Well some things are overstated there, but basically, yeah.

"3. Perhaps most importantly, the VP's office did have something directly to do with Wilson's trip."

You're clinging. This has been discussed ad nauseum. Wilson created an impression that wasn't true. If this was accidental, he failed to clarify the obvious misunderstanding, and even encouraged it in later interviews. The specific words used in the op-ed (and important ommissions) is not an intellectually honest defense.

"who on earth are you talking about heralding Miller for being in jail for contempt of court"

Tom Brokaw visits her in jail, and speaks in her defense, lawmakers on the hill offering up changes in the law, NYT, the collective lawyers of the entire MSM. Perhaps you can take issue with the word "heraldng" but using language ("who in the world?") to suggest that there has been a complete absence of moral attention to her position is simply not as reasonable as you try so hard to make yourself sound.

Again, just a whole lot of nothing.

Tommy V

vnjagvet ,

Could you clarify? I'm confused.

Lesley

Tommy, let me take a stab at this. It puts to rest the notion that the only way anyone could have possibly known her name (ie. Valerie Plame vs Valerie Wilson) was to have stumbled upon this knowledge via classified information. Obviously, the name Valerie Plame was in the public domain, placed there by her husband as he would have been the person who supplied the data to the 2003 Who's Who listing.

MJW

Jeff -- I suppose in the most nebulous way you could say Wilson's trip was a result to the VP's questions about uranium from Africa. However, since the VP's office didn't know Wilson was being sent and wasn't told of his conclusions, to say the VP's office was directly involved is just plain wrong.

Why does it matter whether the VP sent Wilson? Just read Robert Scheer's rant to find out. The anti-Bush forces were having a field-day charging that the White House had learned the truth about the Niger uranium from Wilson but lied about it. Wilson is quoted in this column as saying, "That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address." Is it any wonder that the White House sought to set the record straight regarding the VP's lack of involvement?

That charge that part of the so-called push-back was dishonestly claiming Plame authorized the trip is questionable, at best. Novak accurately reported that she had "suggested" Wilson for the trip. Cooper's memo to his editor uses the word "authorized," but what does that prove? Perhaps Rove did, as he reportedly claims, get the information second or third hand, and it was distorted along the way. Or perhaps Cooper simply mischaracterized what Rove said. Rove may have, for example, said Plame was behind Wilson's selection. I tend to the later theory. From what I've seen of the weasely Mr. Cooper, I don't think getting a story straight is his strong point.

jukeboxgrad

LESLEY: "Obviously, the name Valerie Plame was in the public domain"

I don't think anyone is claiming that it was hard to figure out that Valerie Plame, Valerie Wilson, and "Joe Wilson's wife" are all the same person. What was not widely-known, however (notwithstanding various unsubstantiated claims to the contrary), was that this person worked at the CIA. That information was definitely not in Who's Who, or in Joe's online biography.

The key part of what VN posted is this claim: "It was no secret by then that Mr. Wilson's wife was working at the CIA." I'm interested in knowing the basis for that claim.

jukeboxgrad

On the subject of what Wilson said about Cheney's role:

Daily Howler is not known as a lefty blog, but even they acknowledged: "No, Joe Wilson didn’t really say that Dick Cheney sent him to Africa."

How odd that the RNC says this: "Wilson Falsely Claimed That It Was Vice President Cheney Who Sent Him To Niger."

Some folks here think that Wilson should be held accountable for what Kristof says. Who should be held accountable for what the RNC says? Somewhere along the way I've developed the vague impression that those folks report to Bush.

jukeboxgrad

On the subject of what Wilson said about Plame's role:

Wilson's book is browsable and content-searchable at amazon.

Wilson didn't flatly say "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," although many people (including Schmidt) more-or-less quote him that way. He said "apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger's uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter."

Funny thing is, this account by Wilson is corroborated by multiple reports from within the CIA. More on this here.

jukeboxgrad

MJW quotes Wilson as saying "That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address."

Even putting Wilson's report aside, it's clear "they knew ... That information was erroneous" ahead of the SOTU, because the lines had already been removed from the earlier speech (Cinncinati, October, right?), and then mysteriously everyone forgot about that, so the line sneaked back in. Kind of like how Rove is forgetting where he first heard about Plame.

"Is it any wonder that the White House sought to set the record straight regarding the VP's lack of involvement?"

How interesting that folks like Rice decided to "set the record straight" by twisting it in the opposite direction. Rice said "No, this is simply not true [that 'it came at the request of the VP']." An honest answer would have been "Cheney did not send him, but he was sent by the CIA as a result of a request by Cheney" (since that's what SSCI indicates).

Some are suggesting that many people listened to Wilson and ended up with the impression (although he never said it) that he was personally dispatched by Cheney, which is obviously not the case. What about all the people who listened to Rice et al and ended up with the opposite impression, that Cheney had no connection whatsover to Wilson's trip? Why is that OK?

Lesley

Juke: don't you kinda remember when there was some head scratching and finger-pointing going on about where the heck did they (whoever they was)come up with the name Plame? I recall wondering about it.

Also, as to Valerie Plame working at CIA. Lots of people - State, Administration, Defense - pass through the doors at Langley for various reasons, some classified, some not. What if one of these aforementioned persons (possibly lots of these people) saw her at a meeting or a conference, possibly even as a presenter at a classified briefing? Moreover, what if she was introduced as an analyst? That's a key question, because if she was introduced as an analyst, one would be totally clueless as to the fact that she might be covert. It would be very easy for any of these people to say when asked about her, "Oh yeah, I know who Valerie Plame is. Great looking gal. She works over at CIA."

Honestly, Juke. It could be as simple an explanation as that. You may not agree, but its possible.

MJW

Jukeboxgrad -- I suppose if Rice had answered that even though it wasn't true that the VP's office sent Wilson, he was sent as a result of a request by the VP, she would have been more precise. But she wouldn't have been more truthful, since her original answer was entirely accurate. Cheney's office didn't send Wilson to Niger, despite the widespread belief at the time that it did.

What possible significance would it have had for Rice to give the more precise answer? The only reason it mattered who sent Wilson is that if it was the VP, then the White House would have no excuse for being unaware of Wilson's conclusions about uranium sales. That was the point harped on in countless left-wing opinion pieces (such as this one). If, however, Wilson was sent at a much lower level, even if it was a result of questions from the VP, the whole "the White House had to know" argument falls apart.

I think it's worth noting that the main thing the White House supposedly should have known from Wilson's report is that a document proving Niger sold uranium to Iraq was a forgery (see the second paragraph in the linked article). However, as Wilson later admitted, not only did he not report on the document, he never saw it and would therefore have had no way of knowing whether it was a forgery.

MJW

Let me add to my previous post that I'm well aware that the document was actually a crude forgery. It's just that Wilson, contrary to his claims, had nothing to do with revealing that fact.

I'm also aware that some believe Wilson may have had unauthorized access to the document, then lied about it to avoid getting into trouble. I have no idea what to make of that theory.

kim

One of the links to the Daily Howler has another link to an erudite discussion of the forgery(ies). He tries to make the connection from admin to two copies of the same forgery, and fails, but has some interesting points. Among others, he believes the CIA did figure out the forgery early.

I sincerely hope Fitz is on the Yellowcake trail. He should be. However, I don't think its source is the administration, I think it might be CIA or Wilson.
============================================

kim

Speaking of the Daily Howler, the liberals here should go read Bob's Saturday, July 30 column(er..uh....his post).

The erudite discusser was Eriposte but I can't find the link now.
==================================================

Patrick R. Sullivan

At least Jeff is smart enough to avoid responding to most of my rebuttal, which I take as a concession. But, he's not smart enough to avoid providing more evidence that he is indeed a blithering idiot:

'I challenge you, Patrick, to cite where in Tenet's statement or the SSCI report it is flatly denied that Cheney was informed of Wilson's trip.'

Cheney flatly denied it, and no one has ever provided a shred of evidence that he was. Meaning Kristoff's two columns saying Cheney had Wilson sent to Niger--which was what Wilson told Kristoff personally--have no basis in fact.

'And read more carefully before you cite, this time. I can already tell you it won't work to cite Tenet's line that the CIA did not brief the report to the President or the Vice President...'

Of course, it won't work. Logic and evidence don't 'work' for you the way they did for Aristotle.

'... because that, again, does not fully answer the question -- having the report briefed to Cheney was only one way in which he or his office may have become informed of it. Note that Tenet's statement also says that the report received normal and wide distribution. Is it hard to imagine that that normal and wide distribution included Cheney's office, or someone who told Cheney's office about it?'

Your argument is: 'I have no evidence of X, those knowledgeable deny X, but if I imagine X it's probably so.

boris

'I have no evidence of X, those knowledgeable deny X, but if I imagine X it's probably so ...

... because nothing is as it seems ... '

kim

And we're all wandering around in the dark misperceiving what we bump into. What a wonderful game.
==================================================

Jeff

First, Patrick, I let TM's comment in this thread do the work of rebutting you for me. Second, all you're doing is repeating your previous claims, which I've already rebutted -- as with your reassertion, already addressed, that Cheney flatly denied he gained any information about Wilson's trip. He didn't. He said on MTP that he never saw any report that Wilson produced. But there is agreement on all hands that Wilson himself did not produce a report. Someone else did. And Cheney does not flatly deny that he ever saw, heard, learned of it.

More generally, politicians -- and in this affair journalists involved -- are adept at using weasel words. It is clear from this matter that the Bush administration did so with regard to Rove's involvement; this should be enough to give the lie to the belief that only the Clinton administration used weasel words, legalism, casuistry and other rhetorical tricks and sleights of hand. One of the distinctive things about TM's site here is that he is very attentive to when those rhetorical maneuvers may be being used. I though we were all on board with that. Here's an example: Tenet in his statement of July 11 says that the report produced as a result of Wilson's trip was not briefed by the CIA to the VP or President. It also says that the report received normal and wide distribution. Is the VP being briefed by the CIA the only conceivable way that Cheney could have had access to the information contained in the report? So my argument is not "I have no evidence of X, those knowledgeable deny X, but if I imagine X it's probably so . . ." My argument is, "I have no evidence of X, but isn't it curious that Y, which is a subset of X, is denied by the relevant party, so that credulous people like Patrick and others who don't pay careful attention think X has been denied, while in fact X has never been denied." So, yes, it is perfectly possible that Cheney never heard, saw, gained any information about the results of Wilson's trip. But then I don't understand why he wouldn't just come out and say that.

Again, it's not just the Bush administration that does this, it's the stock in trade of politicians, and I've paid attention to what others involved here say as well, for instance Tim Russert. And I've expressed frustration and suspicion at the fact that he doesn't seem able to come out and make a clear statement that he was not a source for anyone in the administration for any information about Valerie Plame.

boris - you truly are a hack.

boris

But then I don't understand why he wouldn't just come out and say that.

Obviously ... because nothing is as it seems ...

Jeff

One quick note on boris. boris has taken to replying to my post's by saying. ". . . because nothing is as it seems . . ." The funny thing is that this is just about the opposite of what I'm saying. My suggestion with regard to Cheney, for instance, is: maybe the fact that Cheney has not denied that he learned of the results of Wilson's trip is exactly as it seems: it's because he did learn of those results.

The other, definitely, funnier thing is that on another thread boris confronts the fact that the -- frankly rather convoluted -- interpretation regarding Plame's covert role at the CIA he's been pushing over and over is exactly an instance of a "nothing is as it seems" argument. Here's what boris says:

I DON'T CLAIM this is the truth, only that it makes sense. Unlike all the other "nothing is as it seems" BS floating around in the toilet bowl.

However implausible boris' claim, the distinction between claiming something is truth and claiming that it makes sense is right on target, and boris is right to try to claim the latter for his interpretation. The only trouble is that that is exactly what many of us whom boris attacks -- including myself -- have been doing as well. I don't claim it as truth that Cheney did learn of the results of Wilson's trip, only that it makes sense that he may have. So it would be nice if boris recognized that, not only for us, but that way he wouldn't have to try to contort his way out of his own contradictions.

kim

Well, so what were the results of Wilson's trip? That Cheney supposedly learned?
===============================================

TM

Bob "I Would Die For Al" Somerby does not run a lefty site? Well, at the North Pole everything is to the south, and I guess from where Jukebox stands, almost everyone is to the right. However, for most of us, the Daily Howler is a lefty.

As to whether Wilson claimed Cheney sent him to Africa, well, he certainly helped create a news environment in which people thought that - his early leaks to Kristof, or his insinuations in his signed op-ed,may have done that.

For example, here is Wolf Blitzer, chatting with Coni on July 13 - *after* Wilson's op-ed supposedly made it clear that he had not been sent by Cheney, after Tenet's statement saying the same thing:

BLITZER: But 11 months earlier, you, the Bush administration, had sent Joe Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to Niger, to find out whether it was true. He came back, reported to the CIA, reported to the State Department, it wasn't true, it was bogus. The whole issue was bogus. And supposedly, you never got word of his report.

RICE: Well, first of all, I didn't know Joe Wilson was going to Niger. And if you look at Director Tenet's statement, it says that counterproliferation experts on their own initiative sent Joe Wilson, so I don't know...

BLITZER: Who sent him?

RICE: Well, it was certainly not a level that had anything to do with the White House, and I do not believe at a level that had anything to do with the leadership of the CIA.

BLITZER: Supposedly, it came at the request of the vice president.

RICE: No, this is simply not true, and this is something that's been perpetuated that we simply have to straighten out.

The vice president did not ask that Joe Wilson go to Niger. The vice president did not know. I don't think he knew who Joe Wilson was, and he certainly didn't know that he was going...

Maybe Wolf fell victim to WH spin and lies about what Wilson was saying.

Here are reporters on July 7 at the White House, after Wilson's op-ed cleared up any confusion about Cheney's role:

MR. FLEISCHER: But, again, the information on -- the President did not have that information prior to his giving the State of the Union.

Q Which gets to the crux of what Ambassador Wilson is now alleging -- that he provided this information to the State Department and the CIA 11 months before the State of the Union and he is amazed that it, nonetheless, made it into the State of the Union address. He believes that that information was deliberately ignored by the White House. Your response to that?

MR. FLEISCHER: And that's way, again, he's making the statement that -- he is saying that surely the Vice President must have known, or the White House must have known. And that's not the case, prior to the State of the Union.

Q He's saying that surely people at the decision-making level within the NSC would have known the information which he -- passed on to both the State Department and the CIA.

MR. FLEISCHER: And the information about the yellow cake and Niger was not specifically known prior to the State of the Union by the White House.

Q What does that say about communications?

Well, the reporters are semi-right - they don't claim Cheney sent Wilson, only that the WH / NSC ignored his answer.

kim

At least partly because he had two answers. And probably no one at the CIA gave Joe any credibility, including his wife.
==============================================

boris
One quick note on boris. boris has taken to replying to my post's by saying. ". . . because nothing is as it seems . . ."

Other than it does cariacture your posts, it also is a joke, which unfortunately you probably didn't get (lacking the irony gene).

In context ...

Obviously ... because nothing is as it seems ...

See obviously doesn't actually go with nothing is as it seems yet that is in fact the gist of most of your postings.

How utterly obvious and clear everything is to you that in fact nothing is as it seems (I paraphrase).

boris
One quick note on boris. boris has taken to replying to my post's by saying. ". . . because nothing is as it seems . . ."

Other than it does cariacture your posts, it also is a joke, which unfortunately you probably didn't get (lacking the irony gene).

In context ...

Obviously ... because nothing is as it seems ...

See obviously doesn't actually go with nothing is as it seems yet that is in fact the gist of most of your postings.

How utterly obvious and clear everything is to you that in fact nothing is as it seems (I paraphrase).

boris

Double obvious apparantly

Jeff

TM - Do you accept that Wilson's trip was responsive to Cheney's request for more information on a piece of intelligence? That Cheney asked a specific question, and Wilson's trip was part of answering that question?

I take it it makes a difference whether Cheney personally asked Wilson or whether Wilson's trip was planned by the CIA in response to Cheney's question because the former scenario supposedly makes it more likely that Cheney would have received a response. But is that really true? Shouldn't Cheney have received a response that included the information from Wilson's trip anyway? Isn't it a massive screw-up if he did not? Is that what the reporters are asking? Moreover, the reporters don't claim that the WH/NSC ignored Wilson's answer. They confront Fleischer with Wilson's allegations, which are presented as allegations. Fleischer responds that the VP didn't know -- which by the way is the closest to a flat denial I've seen, though what exactly he didn't know could be clearer than Fleischer makes it -- along with others. The reporters accept that answer (they might have asked for clarification on what they didn't know and when they didn't know it), and ask an appropriate follow-up, which is, in effect, Well, if the WH/NSC didn't know, isn't that a huge screw-up with communicating info that was responsive to a question from the VP? What's wrong with that? Isn't it a massive screw-up, deserving an explanation?

boris

You also miss the potty humor joke in my toilet bowl post ...

#2 is where you all get confused, your symbolic reality conflators short out and go into broken record mode.

... like all the other "nothing is as it seems" BS floating around in the toilet bowl.

kim

Jeff: Which answer Joe brought back from Africa would you have Cheney informed of? On the face of it that is an explanation for why Joe's information went nowhere; it was internally contradictory.
===============================================

boris

Which answer Joe brought back from Africa would you have Cheney informed of?

That's not really his point. He's trying to make a case that Cheney used weasel words in his Wilson denial based on pure speculation.

It has been pointed out what Wilson said a number of times and in several different ways, some of which clearly imply that Cheney deliberately instigated the trip. It has been pointed out that even had he not, the false impression was out there and coming back to the administration in the form of reporter's questions based on that premise. Setting the record straight was certainly in the administration's interest.

None of the seems to matter, because it is out in the open for everyone to see and appreciate. Therefore it is dismissed because ... wait for it ...

Nothing Is As It Seems.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'One quick note on boris. boris has taken to replying to my post's by saying. ". . . because nothing is as it seems . . ." The funny thing is that this is just about the opposite of what I'm saying.'

Not only do you not understand what others are saying, you don't understand what YOU are saying.

Here's the SSCI in plain English on the report on Wilson's debriefing:

'...no one [emphasis for our distinguished semanticist; NO ONE] believed it added a great deal of new information to the Iraq-Niger uranium story.

'....DIA and CIA analysts said that when they saw the intellignece report they did not believe that it supplied much new information and did not think that it clarified the story on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal. ....

'Because CIA analysts did not believe that the report added any new information to clarify the issue, they did not use the report to produce any further analytical products of highlight the report for policymakers. For the same reason, ***CIA's briefer did not brief the vice President on the report***, despite the Vice President's previous questions about the issue.'

[My: *** in the above.]

That UNANIMOUS BI-PARTISAN declaration is as clear as it gets, Jeff. NO ONE thought Wilson had anything new, except confirmation that at one time Iraq was interested in uranium from Niger. So, nothing was said to the Vice President or other policymakers about it.

It's only Joe--Walter Mitty--Wilson (and possibly his blushing bride) who thought he added anything worth knowing. Tenet said it was nothing. 14 senators said the same. Cheney told Russert he didn't know anything about it.

But, Jeff, reasoning from his premise that Bush, Cheney, Rove are evildoers, concludes that...Bush, Cheney, Rove are evildoers.

boris

boris confronts the fact that the -- frankly rather convoluted -- interpretation regarding Plame's covert role at the CIA he's been pushing over and over is exactly an instance of a "nothing is as it seems" argument.

I would quibble with this ... my argument is based on plain english:

1. Working at the CIA
2. Designated status of undercover operative
3. Working undercover

Three different things.

V.P. had no cover and #1 was not hidden, therefore #3 is out.

I claim this attempts to maximize "things are what they seem" based on documented quotes.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative.

former Deputy Director of the CIA:
"... but she was working in an analytical organization, and there’s nothing that precludes anyone from identifying analytical officers."


boris

Just checking ...

TM

Do you accept that Wilson's trip was responsive to Cheney's request for more information on a piece of intelligence? That Cheney asked a specific question, and Wilson's trip was part of answering that question?

The gist of the Wilson critique, if I may attempt to summarize the state of mind he created, was that Cheney asked for information about Niger/Saddam/uranium, got an answer he didn't want to hear, and ignored it.

It seems, from Tenet's statememnt and the SSCI, that (a) Cheney did ask a question; (b) the CIA gave him their then-current answer, and, in a burst of energy and initiative, tried to upgrade their information; (c) the upgrade (Wilson) didn't add anything to the story.

Now, would Wilson have been sent if Cheney had not pricked their curiousity? Maybe not (although one might wonder, why not - just what is their job, anyway?).

But is it true that Cheney asked for an update and ignore the answer when he didn't like it? Apparently not.

BONUS - would Cheney have ignored an unfavorable response? Well, in his March 16, 2003 pre-war Meet the Press appearance he was quite dismissive of the IAEA reports (which said Saddam was pretty benign on the nuke front).

What keeps the wind at Wilson's back is that he is thematicaly correct (or at least, defensible) - Saddam had no nuclear program to speak of, the documents really were forgeries (Joe just hadn't seen them), the war has not gone well, Cheney is a hard-ass, and so on. It's only the details that give Joe trouble. Which is one of the many reason evil righties love it when the debate turns to Wilson.

kim

Or wear their fingers to the bone turning the debate to Wilson.
==================================

jukeboxgrad

LESLEY: "don't you kinda remember when there was some head scratching and finger-pointing going on about where the heck did they (whoever they was)come up with the name Plame?"

Yes, I realize there's been a lot of discussion about that, but I don't find that question quite so interesting, because I think there are too many fairly simple answers.

"It would be very easy for any of these people [meeting attendees] to say when asked about her, 'Oh yeah, I know who Valerie Plame is ... She works over at CIA.'"

I wouldn't say "very easy," because I think it's reasonable to surmise that the kind of folks attending those meetings generally take their SF-312 seriously (unlike Rove).

Anyway, you're answering a question I didn't ask. I was questioning this statement by VN: "It was no secret by then that Mr. Wilson's wife was working at the CIA." You're suggesting that she and the CIA weren't doing enough to maintain her cover, and there are various ways her identity might have leaked out. Maybe so. But this is different than demonstrating that such a thing actually happened. Note that various people are making such a claim (paraphrase: "lots of people knew") without, as far as I can tell, a shred of evidence.

This very much reminds me of how folks pretend there's no difference between claiming that Saddam desired to have WMD, as compared with claiming that he did have WMD. The difference between potential and actual is material.

jukeboxgrad

MJW: "But she [Rice] wouldn't have been more truthful, since her original answer was entirely accurate."

No (unless I'm confused by what you mean when you say "her original answer"). Blitzer said "Supposedly, it [Wilson's trip] came at the request of the vice president." Rice responded "No, this is simply not true." In my opinion, that's far from "entirely accurate." It's at best an incomplete picture. The fact is that Wilson's trip did indeed come as a result of a request of the vice president. It would have been better if Blitzer had spoken more carefully. This isn't an excuse for Rice to further the confusion.

"Cheney's office didn't send Wilson to Niger"

True. But Cheney asked the CIA a question, and the CIA decided to send Wilson to Niger as part of an effort to provide a response to that question.

"If, however, Wilson was sent at a much lower level, even if it was a result of questions from the VP, the whole 'the White House had to know' argument falls apart."

Sorry, I don't buy that. Imagine for a moment that Wilson had returned with opposite results, the kind of results for which Cheney was obviously digging. Are you seriously claiming that news of those results would not have landed on Cheney's desk within a few nanoseconds of Wilson stepping off the plane?

In other words, there was one thing (and only one thing) that determined whether or not Wilson's report would get a spotlight: if it said what the White House wanted it to say. Not how he was sent, not who he was, not whether or not he did a thorough job. Just whether or not the report had political value.

"the main thing the White House supposedly should have known from Wilson's report is that a document proving Niger sold uranium to Iraq was a forgery"

That's a matter of opinion on your part. I disagree. In my opinion, the main thing the White House should have known from Wilson's report was that there was no basis for "recently" and "significant quantities," words that appeared in the SOTU. And, more generally, the idea that if Saddam was going to spirit away a very significant portion of Niger's uranium production, this was simply not something likely to go unnoticed. Lots of people in the IC already knew this. Wilson added confirmation.

"I have no idea what to make of that theory [about Wilson allegedly having unauthorized access to the forged documents]."

Same here. I find that particular subplot to be an especially murky portion of an overall picture that's already murky, so I find that branch of the discussion fairly uninteresting.

jukeboxgrad

TM: "Somerby does not run a lefty site?"

My mistake. Thanks for pointing it out. I have to stop drinking at the keyboard.

"As to whether Wilson claimed Cheney sent him to Africa, well, he certainly helped create a news environment in which people thought that ... "

Let me know when we get to start evaluating Bush according to vague ideas about how he "helped create a news environment." Or let me know when we get to hold Bush accountable not just for what he actually said but for what "people thought." Hell, you guys aren't even willing to hold Bush accountable for his own statements, or the statements of his official spokesman. But when the shoe is on the other foot, suddenly Wilson is the puppetmaster behind Blitzer. Sorry, that double-standard doesn't fly.

When your attempt to damage Wilson consists essentially of recounting statements by people other than Wilson, that's not a good sign for the quality of your argument.

"Maybe Wolf fell victim to WH spin and lies about what Wilson was saying."

Now you're getting somewhere. Or maybe Wolf was being deliberately provocative. Or maybe Wolf's words were innocently sloppy and oversimplified (and I think there are more than a trivial number of occasions that defense has been invoked on Dubya's behalf). Either way, if you have a problem take it up with Wolf. Likewise for the other reporters you cite.

By the way, when Blitz says "you, the Bush administration," he is arguably referring to the fact that the CIA is, to a great extent, under the control of the POTUS.

"they don't claim Cheney sent Wilson, only that the WH / NSC ignored his answer."

Excuse me for repeating myself. Imagine for a moment that Wilson had returned with opposite results, the kind of results for which Cheney was obviously digging. Are you seriously claiming that news of those results would not have landed on Cheney's desk within a few nanoseconds of Wilson stepping off the plane? My point is this: the system was set up in such a way that "wrong" answers were indeed being ignored, up and down the chain of command.

"evil righties love it when the debate turns to Wilson."

True, because it's a distraction from Rove. Trouble is, that's just misdirection. Even if one fully accepts the idea that both Wilson and Plame are creeps, liars and traitors (or even, horror of horrors, Democrats), none of that gives Rove a free pass to out an agent.

jukeboxgrad

BORIS: "Setting the record straight was certainly in the administration's interest."

And for some odd reason which no one can explain, the administration could not find a way to set "the record straight" without discussing the identity of a CIA employee with more than one reporter.

One would think that "setting the record straight" would be a simple matter of talking openly and plainly about the facts the White House knew which disproved the content of Wilson's report. As we now clearly understand, the White House knew no such facts. So it resorted to the next best thing, which was to attack the messenger, and his spouse. Even though, as the WSJ pointed out: "That Ms. Plame recommended her husband doesn't undercut Mr. Wilson's credentials for the job of trying to figure out whether Saddam Hussein was seeking the raw material for a nuclear weapon in Africa."

And for some odd reason which no one can explain, the administration decided that "setting the record straight" should include promoting the idea that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip, even though this claim appears to be false. So this requires a peculiar understanding of the word "straight."

kim

I could pouind on so many mnails I've driven before, but one of them has workeda itself loose from your head so I'll have at it. IL'm sorry that the words 'recently' and 'significant' don't mean in Bush'ls mouth what they mean in your ear. Where the failure to communicate occurs, I can't say. I will say that those two words have a plasticity of meaning that you don't appreciate.
===============================================

boris

peculiar understanding of the word "straight."

I'm guessing that fits you to a T.

Nash

Let me know when we get to start evaluating Bush according to vague ideas about how he "helped create a news environment." Or let me know when we get to hold Bush accountable not just for what he actually said but for what "people thought." Hell, you guys aren't even willing to hold Bush accountable for his own statements, or the statements of his official spokesman. But when the shoe is on the other foot, suddenly Wilson is the puppetmaster behind Blitzer. Sorry, that double-standard doesn't fly.

jukeboxgrad correctly calls "foul" over the double standard being followed here and elsewhere. Either everything that anyone infers, whether correctly or not, from anything President Bush or his administration has ever said become the direct responsibility of President Bush or they do not. You cannot have it both ways.

And since you argue that it is unfair to say that just because someone supported invading Iraq because they incorrectly inferred that President Bush was telling them Iraq was an imminent threat when he never said that, well, it's not President Bush's fault that that they didn't understand what he was saying, then you also cannot ethically apply a different standard to Joe Wilson when others incorrectly inferred what he was saying.

And since you argue that it is not fair to attach responsibility to President Bush when people in his administration, including his Vice President, his National Security Advisor and his press secretary either directly described the Iraq threat as imminent or used other words that people incorrectly inferred to mean that that Iraq threat was imminent, then you cannot ethically apply a different standard to Joe Wilson when others (e.g., Blitzer, Kristof) similarly misstate or misrepresent what he has said in claiming to speak for him.

You decry moral relativism, but you are into bigtime moral relativism if you think it is ethical to treat President Bush and Amb. Wilson differently concerning "responsibility" for what other people do with their words and positions. You cannot have it both ways and keep any respect.

boris

Nobody wants your respect.

Especially since you don't get that Wilson's respnsibility is not the point. His statement is consistent with the interpretation that Cheny requested info from Tenet who suggested sending someone to find out and Cheney agreeing.

This is in fact the interpretation inferred by many professional journalists because it is how most people would expect reasonable government to work.

It is in fact the interpretation coming back to the administration in the form of questions from Cooper, Novak and Russert.

This false impression (consistant with Wilson's statement) is what the administration was responding to and correcting with the truth.

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