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August 02, 2005

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» Journalistic Opportunities Await from Decision '08
Tom Maguire has given would-be journalists an invaluable gift by practically giftwrapping fruitful lines of inquiry for PlameGate (including Joe Wilson Interviewed By Fitzgerald - are you listening, AJ?)... Meanwhile, a terrible day in Iraq, as 14... [Read More]

» Plame On! from Instapunk.com
UPDATE 8-3-05. The story that keeps going and going... A very good way to catch up on the latest is to read Tom Maguire at Just One Minute. [Read More]

» Miller snubbed by broad assumptions from The Anchoress
This is pretty interesting: The board of The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, E&... [Read More]

Comments

kim

JBG, for my sake, read Bob Somerby.
===================================

Tollhouse

I thinks it's time for an intervention.

Steven J.

"And while on that point, we have yet to see a clear transcript or public citation of Andrea Mitchell making a similar admission in July 2005."

I don't think Mitchell ever said this because if Plame's identity were an open secret, Mitchell would not have gone on about how bad the leak was:

'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 14
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8551790/

ANDREA MITCHELL: The other thing is a lot of misreporting, including in some of the papers today about what her role was. She was back in the States, had been back in the States since 1997. But she was still covert. She was considered a CIA officer, and a covert officer at Langley. Now she had previously been what was considered under non-official cover, which meant that she was of the deepest type of undercover spy overseas, meaning she had a job in a CIA front organization, a company that took years and years to establish. And that revealing her name was serious because anyone who ever dealt with that company or with her, any foreign national CIA agent, agent that is a term used for foreigners, that person or persons could then be suspect and could then be under life-threatening conditions.


Dwilkers

You know what's funny about all this is it appears to me the whole thing could have been innocent and that - due to the OpEd Wilson wrote - everybody started talking about it at the same time, and by "everybody" I mean everybody.

Wilson to explain why he was qualified to go on the mission ("of course I'm qualified to judge WMD issues. My wife works at the CIA as an analyst FGS!), Rove etal to explain that Wilson didn't have anything to do with the White House ("the VP didn't send him. Those idiots at the CIA sent him because his wife works there!).

In fact, I kinda suspect that's what happened and tracking down who said it first may be impossible.

Steven J.

"We also know that in a typical bureaucracy, a monumental miscommunication of this magnitude - nationally syndicated columnist ignores CIA press officer and outs covert agent - would have resulted in some internal soul searching, which would have led to memos or minutes with themes of "What Went Wrong" and "How We Will Improve"."

Not necessarily. We outed a mole in Al-Queda for domestic political gain:

http://radamisto.blogspot.com/2005/07/rove-leak-nothing-new.html

Another Al-Queda leak, possibly done for domestic political reasons:

Exclusive: British, American security services clash over terror intelligence
Michael Smith
http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Exclusive_British_American_security_services_clash_over_terror_in_0801.html
American officials compromised another intercept operation during the investigation into the September 11 attacks when they leaked details of two mobile telephone conversations between al-Qaeda members that with hindsight appeared to refer to the attacks.
The conversations sent immediately before the attacks had not been processed until the day after because of the amount of material that was available and as a result became a controversial part of the evidence of intelligence failure.
British intelligence had barred its US counterpart from releasing details of the actual telephone conversations because it would alert those who made them to the fact that not only their phones but the phones of the people they were talking to were being monitored. But they were leaked anyway, cutting off another potential source of intelligence on al-Qaeda activities.


Steven J.

DWILKERS -

I think you are losing site of the real issue:

BUSH:The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.
George Tenet, 7/11/03, http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/press_release/2003/pr07112003.html

Steven J.

"sight" (ahem!) :-)

Martin

Hey TM-didn't you FPP the Andrea Mitchell thing before in a vain attempt at corroboration?

Give it up. It was a lie originally propagated by Powerlines.

Cliff May otoh indisputably said it-but has clammed up about that bigtime. Odd, since he should be repeating it at every opportunity... If it was true the first time.

J Mann

Here's my suggested headline:

What, If Anything, Did Harlow Know, and When Did He Know It?

If I understand Harlow's and Novak's stories right, their contacts happened as follows:

1) Novak calls Harlow to confirm that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA weapons analyst who suggested that Wilson be selected for the Niger trip.

2) Harlow confirms that Plame is a CIA employee, but quibbles with the details, saying that other CIA officials selected Wilson, then asked Plame to contact Wilson for them.

3) Then, after talking with Novak, Harlow checks the records, determines that Plame is undercover, and calls Novak to try to chill the story. According to Harlow, he doesn't say the word "undercover," because the fact that Plame is undercover is classified. According to Novak, Harlow tells him that Plame hasn't been active in years, but that publishing her name "could cause problems."

In what possible universe is it ok for Harlow to tell Novak that Plame works for the CIA, but not ok to tell Novak that Plame is undercover? If the CIA was going to classify anything, it should have been that Plame was a CIA employee, not that she was undercover.

Alternately, if Plame's cover was so unknown that even Harlow, a CIA spokesman, thought he could speak to the press without checking to see if she was undercover, why are we chasing Rove and not Harlow?

Jeff Z

"He did not know her name and he didn't call her an operative."

Translation: Russert said that Joseph Wilson's wife works for the CIA.

Cool.

Jim E.

"And while on that point, we have yet to see a clear transcript or public citation of Andrea Mitchell making a similar admission in July 2005."

This is lame, why are you pursuing this non-existant Mitchell angle? Instead of putting Mitchell's name in that sentence, you could just as easily put in Tiger Woods', Katie Couric's, John Madden's, Larry King's, or Oprah Winfrey's name. After all, they, like Mitchell, never made a "similar admission." You are jumbling up the known information on this matter and doing little to clarify the situation by knowingly putting in such BS.

Jim E.

Instead of Andrea Mitchell headfakes, I'd expect an acknowledgment that two of Rove's close assistants were in front of the grand jury last week. Seems more germane to mention facts involving Rove rather than Powerline misstatements regarding Andrea Mitchell. But that's just me.

TM

Sydney H. Schanberg in the Village Voice wants more press disclosure, too.

And on Andrea Mitchell - "You are jumbling up the known information on this matter and doing little to clarify the situation by knowingly putting in such BS.

It's hard to explain without sounding hopelessly patronizing, but... you may think it's BS, and if you followed my Andrea Mitchell link, you might suspect that I think it is BS, but does everyone agree that it is BS? Or just everyone on the left?

Martin

No obviously Powerlies still believes it and your rightish commenters continue to cite it.

The point is there no evidence zip nada zilch for the assertion.

Plenty of people (on the right) still think Clinton had Vince Foster murdered. You may think that's BS. You might suspect that I think it is BS, but does everyone agree that it is BS? Or just everyone on the left?

Geek, Esq.

An excellent summary of the Republican right's wishful thinking!

If only reality were so comforting to my friends on the right. The fact that Fitzgerald is STILL subpoenaing Rove's coworkers, aides, etc.

And, regarding the Russert thing, Bloomberg's report tells us that "Russert has testified before Fitzgerald that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity." (I forgot how to do the whole link thing, but everyone's already read that story anyways).

And, I'd be shocked if Joe Wilson WASN'T interviewed by Fitzgerald. His testimony would be essential.

Martin

Meanwhile sources friendly to Rove leak that his aides were asked in the grand jury room why Cooper's call wasn't logged into Rove's phone records.

Seems like somebody "forgot" that they talked to Cooper. Understandable of course since busy SAOs talk to so many people and a review of the phone logs wouldn't have jogged the old noggin.

Martin

Oh and TM maybe you ponder this in August:

"W]hile indicating that all he knows is what he has read in newspapers, Bush gave Rove a ringing endorsement.

"Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team," Bush said, adding that internal fact-finding has been hampered by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's request that the White House not discuss the inquiry.

Asked if he feels he knows the facts about what his staff's involvement might be in any leaks, Bush said, "We have been cautioned about talking about this issue."

Asked if that caution covered internal White House discussions, Bush said, "Yes."

Now that's some BS my friend.

Geek, Esq.

TM:

"It's hard to explain without sounding hopelessly patronizing, but... you may think it's BS, and if you followed my Andrea Mitchell link, you might suspect that I think it is BS, but does everyone agree that it is BS? Or just everyone on the left?"

It's BS. The only folks saying it are dissembling Republican hacks--Powerline and Cliff May.

cathyf

In what possible universe is it ok for Harlow to tell Novak that Plame works for the CIA, but not ok to tell Novak that Plame is undercover? If the CIA was going to classify anything, it should have been that Plame was a CIA employee, not that she was undercover.

Alternately, if Plame's cover was so unknown that even Harlow, a CIA spokesman, thought he could speak to the press without checking to see if she was undercover, why are we chasing Rove and not Harlow?

Yeah, I gotta say that I've been scratching my head about that exact point for the last 2 years. Mrs. Wilson donated money to the Gore campaign and gave the name of her front company as her employer, creating a google-ready link between "Valerie Wilson" and "Brewster Jennings & Associates" way back in 2000. Then Joe Wilson's online bio linked "Valerie Plame" to "Valerie Wilson." And now we've got Harlow blabbing to Novak, without checking first to see if she was covert, confirming that Joe Wilson's wife works for the CIA. I can't see any way around the fact that Harlow gave official CIA confirmation of the connection between CIA and Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings & Associates.

That's the whole point of cover, right? Either the cover story is that she works for the private company Brewster Jennings & Associates or the story is that she works for the CIA. The CIA and all of its employees (including Harlow and Plame) have to keep their stories straight if they want this whole covert thing to work, and it sure looks like they didn't.

According to Novak, if Harlowe had said something like, "It's real important that you not link her specifically to the CIA. Could you phrase it something like, 'Wilson was recommended by one of the CIA's WMD analysts, who is a personal friend'? If you say it that way, then you still get your point across, but without identifying her in particular," then Novak claims that he would have done that. Now I don't particularly give Novak loads of credibility, but his story is internally consistent and not, on its face, unreasonable. He is claiming that he parsed Harlow's reactions through his Washington Insider Secret Decoder Ring and he didn't get the message that her identity ought to be protected. Like TM said, if the CIA spokescritters don't know how to tell a reporter, "don't print that I can't tell you why {wink} {wink} {nudge} {nudge}" then the CIA has a huge problem and I damn well hope that they've been spending significant resources over the past 2 years trying to fix it. Of course Novak could be lying and maybe Harlow said all the right things and Novak is a just a pig, but I certainly hope the CIA tracked down what happened and tried to fix anything that they identified as an Agency screwup for future cases.

cathy :-)

Etienne

Everytime more minutia gets piled onto this story, the main point becomes obscured. Here is what the American people should be asking themselves: Did the current administration POLITICIZE intelligence in its quest to market a war? Burying this central point under a mountain of hesaidshesaid telephone tag is a disgrace. I realize that's the kind of attention to detail the grand jury needs to deal with, but for the American people the central point here is something else entirely.

TM

Russert has testified before Fitzgerald that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity." (I forgot how to do the whole link thing, but everyone's already read that story anyways)

It would be great if you could remember. Isikoff, for example, did a story based on NBC's Aug 2004 press release, but solved the problem of Russert's cagey denial by simply restating the press release:

An NBC statement last year said Russert did not know of Plame, wife of ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, or that she worked at the CIA, and "he did not provide that information to Libby."

Well, that is not the press release as other cite it, but it worked for Isikoff, and maybe Bloomberg, too.

Ah, here we go, Aug 2004:

NBC, which has previously said Russert did not receive the leak, said in a statement Monday that Fitzgerald interviewed Russert under oath Saturday about a telephone call he received from I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, in early July 2003. Russert told Fitzgerald that he did not know Plame’s name or that she was a CIA operative and that he did not provide that information to Libby, it said.

NBC stressed that Fitzgerald’s questions “focused on what Mr. Russert said during that conversation” and did not ask Russert to compromise any of the network’s news sources. It said Libby had already told the FBI about the conversation and had formally requested that it be disclosed.

Jim, if a round-up of other loose ends is that troubling to you, I am sure you can find plenty of other sites commenting on the Rove aides (and I expect I will get to it eventually). Try Memeorandum.

John

Martin, I agree it is mostly BS, but not entirely. Bush likley does not want to have any conversations directly about it or he could end up testifying about them. So he asks Rove whether there is any chance he (Rove) will end up being indicted when the investigation is over and Rove tells him no way. The President then has not discussed any details he can be asked about later and feels comfortable in stating that he has full confidence in Rove.

Martin

"but I certainly hope the CIA tracked down what happened"

Umm they did Cathy. The CIA Office of Security undertook and completed an internal investigation. They summarized their findings and sent them to the DOJ Counterespionage division. They then requested the FBI begin a criminal investigation. The CIA knows exactly what happened in their version of reality at least.

Martin

No John it's all BS. Bush is the nation's chief law enforcement officer, i.e. he's Fitzgerald's ultimate boss. Forget Rove for now. Bush could have Fitzgerald come into the oval office and personally brief him on the investigation! It's BS.


Patrick R. Sullivan

Speaking of winks and nudges, Bob Somerby should take heed of his own advice to Harlow and stop beating around the bush:

---------quote--------
Starting in July 2003, the mainstream understanding of this issue was largely framed by Wilson. Many of the things you assume to be true came to you from Wilson’s account. But, for all his manifest virtues, Wilson has frequently been a shaky witness; unfortunately, his misstatements have been bold and fairly common. From that, we would draw the following judgment—if you want to know what really happened, you probably shouldn’t simply assume that his frameworks are accurate. By the way, how do you know that Plame was still connected to valuable US security assets? You mainly “know” that because Wilson told you.
----------endquote---------

That could be much stronger. Along the lines of, Joe Wilson's theory of his wife's outing should not be a premise in a syllogism, because it's his CONCLUSION to a syllogism that is verrrrry shaky.

There is a much simpler explanation for why Valerie Plame's name got out. Wilson had been spending months talking to reporters--and finally went public himself in the NY Times--peddling spectacularly false information about his role in Iraq WMD intelligence. Ergo, the truth was going to come out, and Valerie Plame's role was part of it.

J Mann

Cathy, we're on the same page.

If Plame was covert in any meaningful sense, then Harlow shouldn't have said "yes, she works for the CIA, but she didn't suggest Wilson's name."

He should have said: "Wilson's wife is not an overt CIA employee. I can't confirm or deny whether she's covert, but I ask you not to speculate on that question, or to print allegations that she works for the CIA."

I mean, the whole point of a "Non Official Cover" is that the CIA will deny, if asked, that you work for the government. Again, in what possible universe does "yes, she's a CIA employee, but I can't tell you if she's covert, because that's classified" constitute a denial?

John

Martin, you're kidding right?

"Bush could have Fitzgerald come into the oval office and personally brief him on the investigation!"

This is pure BS. Fitzgerald is investigating the executive branch, he can't have chats with Bush about his progress. If he was, you would be the first to scream cover-up.

Martin

No that's pure BS. What's the stautory basis for your claims?

You're saying the DOJ can keep secrets from the President???

Martin

"Fitzgerald is investigating the executive branch"

I agree with that part btw-though there's no actual evidence of it-but most people on this blog would dispute it. They still think Wilson is going to be indicted and Rove given a medal.

J Mann

Bush probably could ask a special counsel to brief him, but my guess is that the S.C. would resign rather than compromise his independence.

Although the independent counsel statute is gone, Fitzgerald's position was intentionally designed to be as free as possible of DOJ oversight.

Geek, Esq.

TM:

Here's the link--I'm assuming you can edit it (or install a toolbar for Luddites like me!)
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aY51e404Lx_8&refer=us

goy

Etienne -

I would submit that a more valid question, being driven from public discourse by the obfuscation over who 'outed' Plame, is this: Did Joe Wilson IV POLITICIZE his (erroneous) assumption about the CIA's conclusions in an effort to influence the electorate?

The facts - Plame's contributions to Gore, Wilson's support of Kerry and the SSCI report detailing Wilson's misunderstanding of the CIA's conclusion - lend more support to this probability than it does to the 'politicized intelligence' theory. This support is magnified when one factors in the gushing complicity of the "Bush lied" efforts by the press, not to mention human nature.

I blame this entire thing on Novak. Take the first sentence out of para. 6 in his "Mission to Niger" column and it still stands on its own. Novak is solely responsible for the avenue of obfuscation that has been incessantly exploited by folks who would prefer to forget Wilson's lack of credibility (read: the press) - including demanding an independent investigation off into left field (npi).

cathyf

Everytime more minutia gets piled onto this story, the main point becomes obscured. Here is what the American people should be asking themselves: Did the current administration POLITICIZE intelligence in its quest to market a war?

I think that the main point that the American people should be asking is: Did the employees of the CIA sabatoge the gathering and analysis of intelligence in their quest to market the notion that we should not fight back against those who have declared war against us?

Cause like ya know, that would be treason.

cathy :-)

Syl

re Harlow

I've got some information from a gentleman who was an expert on classification management for the government for two decades. He was involved in FOIA, taught Information Security and was a 'spy catcher'. He worked for the Defense Department, was in the Pentagon for 5 years, yada, yada, and is the reason there is an FBI file on me (he has a top security clearance and when he moved in with me I had to be checked out).

He says Harlow blew it.

The CIA has regular folks and undercover folks that work for them. (There are two employee cafeterias at the CIA and only one has a guard at the door. Guess which employees eat in that one.)

There is a procedure to follow if the spokesman or anyone from the public affairs dept (or whatever the CIA calls it) is asked to confirm any information involving someone's employment by the CIA. He must immediately check the status of that individual. If he doesn't, or if he does and the employee is undercover, he is to neither confirm or deny that information.

Harlow confirmed that Valery worked at the CIA. THEN he looked up her status. He blew it.
At that point all he could do is request that Novak not print, but the horse was already out of the barn.

And Novak knew it. Any piece of classified info disseminated from CIA public affairs is automatically declassified if the person is authorized to release that info. Well Harlow most likely wasn't authorized, but that isn't Novak's problem.

Since Novak knows the rules of the game, and knows Harlow let the horse out by confirming plame's cia employment, he was free to print.

goy

cathy - I think we can add the implications of your question to the support for "Wilson politicized his assumption" (with the gushing support of the press). IIRC, there was pervasive opinion within the CIA that favored a hands-off approach to Iraq, wasn't there?

Then again, I'm sure Joe and Valerie never discussed such things. Never mind.

Etienne

If Joe Wilson wrote an erroneous op ed, even if his motivations were political, that would have exactly NO impact on our national security or the integrity of our intelligence services.

I realize I'm on a rightwing blog, and it really hasn't dawned on some of you that our government did NOT play straight with us in the runup to this war (that incidentally led to 15 more Marine deaths today, to add to yesterday's 6). However, as citizens of a supposedly free country, we aren't supposed to have wars imposed upon us based on the political whims and fantasies of empire builders. We're supposed to be part of the process, through our elected representatives, and if false intelligence was being peddled to them, we damn well have a right to know about it. Even if Joe Wilson was on a one man crusade, his power in this story is insignificant compared to the might wielded by our own government.

Once again, a point constantly ignored: The WH could have refuted Wilson openly on the merits and chose not to. They chose the backdoor route of character assasination. Why?

Etienne

Did the employees of the CIA sabatoge the gathering and analysis of intelligence in their quest to market the notion that we should not fight back against those who have declared war against us?

Uh, yeah, that would be a good question. IF there was so much as an inkling of an indication that this is the case.

The sum total of evidence for this seems to be the unproven allegation that Plame was the one who sent Wilson to Niger, leaving out the protocol by which she'd even have the power to do this. Also that she contributed to Democrats, which in the old two party America would have been insignificant, but in our new one party system of neoMcCarthyism is apparently damnable evidence.

We are really in trouble here in America if people are joining the CIA to risk their lives just to make sure we are NOT safe from terrorist threats. Yup, if that's the case, we should really know about it.

Once again, I'm flabbergasted at the limits Republicans will go to to defend the indefensible.

cathyf

The CIA knows exactly what happened in their version of reality at least.

Is that the same version of "reality" where China doesn't have noticeable military capability? Martin, you keep repeating over and over that the CIA conducting an investigation and referring to the DOJ is definitive proof that a crime was committed. But a lot of the rest of us are wondering just how it is that these clowns find their way to the parking lot in Langley without getting lost... (Maybe that's why they had to put up the CIA sign at the Langley highway exit???)

cathy :-)

TM

Thanks very much, Geek - I remember that Bloomberg story now - it was later criticized for inventing and exaggerating minor differences.

For exasmple, on Russert, they report this:

Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before Fitzgerald that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according to a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

I left the Rove-Novak in there for illustration - Rove said he first learned Ms. Plame's *name* from Novak, but had heard that Wilson's wife had [sent him/authorized/was involved with sending him] to Niger earlier.

With Russert/Libby, it may well be the case that Russert did not pass along her *name* to Libby, and has so testified. And Libby may (a) misremember this, or (b) have testified, e.g., "I first got her name from Russert or Miller".

But if Russert told Libby that Wilson's wife sent him to Niger (which this story does not exclude), then Russert is being cute.

All that said, this does go a bit beyond the NBC press release, so thanks.

Syl

Etienne

"Even if Joe Wilson was on a one man crusade, his power in this story is insignificant compared to the might wielded by our own government."

I can't decide if you're more terrified of big government or those scary Republicans. The combination of the two must keep you up at night.

On the other hand, I can't think of anything I'd rather have on my side to fight those pesky Islamic terrorists than a huge government full of terrifying Republicans.

That thought helps me sleep at night.

TM

Since Novak knows the rules of the game, and knows Harlow let the horse out by confirming plame's cia employment, he was free to print.

I want to give a huge "I'll be darned" to Syl. And factor in something else - if Wilson is telling the truth is his book (*IF*), then his wife gave the CIA press office a heads up about Novak specifically on July 8. Yet Harlow *still* managed to be unaware of her status when Novak called, and had to doublecheck after talking to him.

That us pretty brutal.

TM

From Etienne:

[HER EXCERPT] Did the employees of the CIA sabatoge the gathering and analysis of intelligence in their quest to market the notion that we should not fight back against those who have declared war against us? [END]

Uh, yeah, that would be a good question. IF there was so much as an inkling of an indication that this is the case.

Sit down, Etienne, while we let Seymour Hersh, lefty-approved, rock your world:

Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is nothing approaching a consensus on this question within the intelligence community. There has been published speculation about the intelligence services of several different countries. One theory, favored by some journalists in Rome, is that sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.

Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

“The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’ ” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here’s what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’ ” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

“They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

Like all large institutions, C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, is full of water-cooler gossip, and a retired clandestine officer told me this summer that the story about a former operations officer faking the documents is making the rounds. “What’s telling,” he added, “is that the story, whether it’s true or not, is believed”—an extraordinary commentary on the level of mistrust, bitterness, and demoralization within the C.I.A. under the Bush Administration. (William Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had no more evidence that former members of the C.I.A. had forged the documents “than we have that they were forged by Mr. Hersh.”)

Let's applaud the cameo by our new best friend, William Harlow. The Hersh excerpt is from The Stovepipe, and here is a rebuttal for agitated righties.

Etienne, I hope you are feeling better.

goy

Etienne -

"that would have exactly NO impact on our national security or the integrity of our intelligence services"
Irrelevant thesis. I was referring to Wilson misleading the electorate.

"it really hasn't dawned on some of you that our government did NOT play straight with us in the runup to this war"
And you're basing this assumption on what evidence, specifically? Wilson's assumptions?

We did not have war "imposed on us". Our elected representatives in Congress voted approximately 3:1 to authorize military force in Iraq. Claiming they were "mislead" with faux intelligence without solid evidence to back up the claim is just more obfuscation.

Why should the WH have graced Wilson's accusations with a direct response? And how was his character "assassinated" by the WH?

Etienne

Syl, I'd say you're confusing fear with disgust. The only thing that terrifies me about Republicans these days is their incompetence coupled with their lust for unchecked power. It's a bad combination in a three year old and far worse in a government.

43 Americans dead in only the last 10 days, not that the "liberal media" would let any of us know about it. And our efforts have been so successful that New Yorkers have to have their baggage checked just to ride ten blocks on the subway (which to be sure is better than having their own government phony up red alerts like they did during the election). Yup, those terrifying Repubs are doing one hell of a job.

Steven J.

PATRICK - "Wilson had been spending months talking to reporters--and finally went public himself in the NY Times--peddling spectacularly false information about his role in Iraq WMD intelligence."

Um, what was spectacularly false?

Steven J.

GOV - "Did Joe Wilson IV POLITICIZE his (erroneous) assumption about the CIA's conclusions in an effort to influence the electorate?"

In 2003???

Steven J.

GOV - "Claiming they were "mislead" with faux intelligence without solid evidence to back up the claim is just more obfuscation."

Okay, here's some solid evidence:

" I, along with nearly every Senator in this Chamber, in that secure room of this Capitol complex, was not only told there were weapons of mass destruction--specifically chemical and biological--but I was looked at straight in the face and told that Saddam Hussein had the means of delivering those biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned drones, called UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles. Further, I was looked at straight in the face and told that UAVs could
be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States."

Congressional Record: January 28, 2004 (Senate)
Sen. Nelson Page S311-S312


Dwilkers

Steven J:

"I think you are losing site of the real issue:"

The "real issue" is 16 words in the SOTU?

Please. The real issue is whether or not someone here broke the law in their political gamesmanship - a game which it is patently OBVIOUS both Wilson/Plame and Rove/Bush were playing on opposite sides in an election year.

Etienne:

"Uh, yeah, that would be a good question. IF there was so much as an inkling of an indication that this is the case."

Good grief. Even the most partisan person in the universe has to acknowledge there was - and astoundingly apparently IS - a PARTISAN war going on in the CIA.

Cathy has it right.

Steven J.

DWILKERS - "The real issue is whether or not someone here broke the law in their political gamesmanship - a game which it is patently OBVIOUS both Wilson/Plame and Rove/Bush were playing on opposite sides in an election year."

2003 wasn't an election year.

boris
He says Harlow blew it.

The CIA has regular folks and undercover folks that work for them.

Although it confounds my face value/plain english explanation, I like this theory because it makes sense.

Still ... "neither confirm or deny" sound weaker than "classified". Perhaps there is some middle state where the operatives "cover" is that they are just regular worker bees instead of CIA operatives. If so the worker bee cover is no more classified than any operative's cover would be, and the hidden, classified info is that the cover is "not what it seems".

That would make V.P.'s cover that she was a worker bee and blowing that cover would be revealing that she was more than that.

Etienne

TM, I've read Hersh's piece on that, and it's certainly one theory on the forged docs (kind of a reversal of the CBS/TANG docs situation last summer), but only one. Nothing but gossip at this point, and doesn't qualify as evidence the CIA was involved in treason, as cathy suggested.

I can see where the CIA would resent this White House. After administration negligence led to their much desired "Pearl Harbor type event" which was then blamed on CIA failures, after Cheney's office bullied the CIA into producing cherry picked intelligence whose false conclusions were then blamed on the CIA...I can see where that has created an internecine warfare.

But it wasn't treason for Wilson to expose the lies of the White House. Try and remember from time to time that Wilson was correct in his conclusions, despite your belief he had no right to assert them.

I don't even think it was treason for Rove & Co. to play their little backstabbing game. That's what they do. They're cockroaches that are used to playing their dirty tricks in the dark. After all they've gotten away with, it's a very cathartic moment to watch them finally choke on their own hubris.

goy

Steven - how does your quote support an assertion that the information provided was false?

Do you think UN inspectors spent all those fruitless months in Iraq, looking for proof of the destruction of Saddam's WMDs, just to vacation in sunny climes? Do you believe UAVs are like UFOs?

If this information was "false", why did we see CNN reporters in Israel scrambling hysterically for gasmasks at the beginning of Desert Storm? False intelligence there too?

Just askin'.

boris

After administration negligence led to their much desired "Pearl Harbor type event" which was then blamed on CIA failures

Except the terrorist Pearl Harbor event was originally timed to occur during the BJ administration but was temporarily delayed until after the election. IOW everything was in place before Bush took office. IOW any negligence during the planning, training, logistics was not from this administration.

IOW you are ranting nonsense.

Jim E.

TM wrote: “It's hard to explain without sounding hopelessly patronizing, but... you may think it's BS, and if you followed my Andrea Mitchell link…”

I apologize if I sound patronizing, but if you’d only read the post you linked to (and directed me to), you’d see that I wrote the 3rd comment in that thread. So I’m aware of it. Back then I pointed out that no evidence exists for what Powerline (and now you) are peddling. If you think it’s BS, why are you still pursuing it?

TM also wrote: “Jim, if a round-up of other loose ends is that troubling to you, I am sure you can find plenty of other sites. . .”

I have trouble with a dishonest round-up of loose-ends. Pushing the Andrea Mitchell thing at this late date is a joke. The media complicity in this scandal is one of the few things I agree with you whole-heartedly, so it’s disappointing to see you continue to push that false Andrea Mitchell crap.

Tollhouse

I note that Sen. Nelson's remarks are remarkably passive. Who told him? Who looked straight into his face and lied to him? Why doesn't he say? Curious.

J Mann

Jim, it seems to me that we don't know what Andrea Mitchell said. If you follow the comments to Tom's post on the subject, there are two main theories:

1) The Mitchell thing is a faulty meme off of one of the appearances that does have a transcript; or

2) The Mitchell quote occurred on a non-transcripted show, probably Imus.

If Mitchell says she didn't say it, that's good enough for me to prove #1. (Or if she says something clearly contradictory). Alternately, if somebody comes up with a recording or transcript, that's good enough for me to prove #2.

Absent one of those, I think the conclusion is that we don't know if it's BS or not.

Etienne

boris, NINE MONTHS after the election, to be exact. I know Repubs have become experts at passing the blame, but that excuse is exceptionally wimpy. Clearly they weren't "terrifying" enough, as Syd likes to believe at night, to protect our citizens despite blinking red lights and explicit PDBs.

Basically, their incompetence and negligence led to the worst terrorist attack on US soil. Then their incompetence and negligence led them to bungle the invasion of an unarmed nation, giving rise to an implacable insurgency that has killed 43 soldiers in the last 10 days alone (plus a captured Marine).

But hey, the highway bill has got more pork than any bill in history, the energy bill is glutting the profits of the oil companies, people can't sue companies that poison them any more, people bankrupted by illness or military service won't be able to get a fresh start again ever, and hopefully soon, Paris Hilton won't have to pay any estate taxes when her daddy kicks the bucket. Terrifying, indeed. These guys are on the job alright, it's just not a job that has anything to do with the AMerican people or making them safe, healthy or prosperous.

owl

No one has to confirm Andrea Mitchell's comment to me. I was watching at the time she said it. If you had seen her nods, facial expressions, etc, you would not have these doubts. She admitted it was well known around town.

Jim E.

J Mann,

The burden is not on Andrea Mitchell to deny saying X, it's on the people who have accused her of saying X.

The thread that TM (and now you) have directed me to (thanks, but I've not only read it, but was one of the first commenters on it) has Andrea Mitchell quotes in which she makes clear that she thinks the Plame thing is serious.

For example, Andrea Mitchell said: "[Plame] was considered a CIA officer, and a covert officer at Langley. Now she had previously been what was considered under non-official cover, which meant that she was of the deepest type of undercover spy overseas, meaning she had a job in a CIA front organization, a company that took years and years to establish. . . . [R]evealing her name was serious." Good enough for you?

Sheesh, the Powerline folks print some false info and the burden falls on the people they misrepresent to clear the air? Give me a break. The burden of proof is on those making the accusation.

If you disagree, try this on for size: When Ari Fleischer was on his book tour, I heard that he told a crowd at a book signing that Karl Rove and Andy Card are gay lovers. Wowzie! Absent a Fleischer (or Rove or Card) denial, we must be open minded about what I "heard." The person who told me about it said that Fleischer's facial expressions and nods made it clear he was deadly serious.

owl

Almost positive Mitchell's comments (mainly facial expressions) were on Hardball, MSNBC. I remember she looked uncomfortable but did answer the question.

Steven J.

OWL - "No one has to confirm Andrea Mitchell's comment to me. I was watching at the time she said it. If you had seen her nods, facial expressions, etc, you would not have these doubts. She admitted it was well known around town."

Please give a link to at least the transcript.

Thanx.


Steven J.

GOV - "Do you think UN inspectors spent all those fruitless months in Iraq, looking for proof of the destruction of Saddam's WMDs, just to vacation in sunny climes? "

"Yes, I, too, believed there were weapons. I began to be skeptical when we went to sites that were given to us by U.S. intelligence and we found nothing. They said this is the best intelligence we have, and I said, if this is the best, what is the rest?" HANS BLIX, NYT, 3/30/04

Jim E.

Hardball has official transcripts. Try again.

Steven J.

TOLLHOUSE - "I note that Sen. Nelson's remarks are remarkably passive. Who told him? Who looked straight into his face and lied to him? Why doesn't he say? Curious."

I'd like to know too.

Martin

I saw Andrea Mitchell on TV and she definitely said that Fleischer and Card were lovers.

Tollhouse

Here's a link to the July 13 Hardball with Andrea. I don't know how it relates though to the Powerline post as it's undetermined to me at least when that Update was added. The root post says July 10.

I didn't read anything like what is claimed, but one wonders what some of the crosstalk was further down.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8551789/

Steven J.

GOV -

In a general sense, the intelligence was cherry-picked to support Bush's plan to invade Iraq.

As one DSM put it, "the intelligence and the facts were being fixed."

The aluminum tubes story was objected to by INR and DOE (the weapons guys) but Rice claimed it was rock solid.

Simliarly, the killer drones story was objected to by Air Force experts.


Ralph Tacoma

Etienne,

"But it wasn't treason for Wilson to expose the lies of the White House. Try and remember from time to time that Wilson was correct in his conclusions, despite your belief he had no right to assert them. "

You are the one who is delusional. The White House said that (in paraphrase) the British had learned of attempts to buy Urantium in AFRICA. The British still stand by that claim and say that it was based on materials other than the forged documents.

Wilson came back and said that "there had been no sale." He also reported a contact from Iraq that the Nigerians thought might have been an attempt to obtain yellowcake, but no meetings took place. Those conclusions are completely consistent with the British claim.

No sale of yellowcake to Iraq by Niger is NOT the same thing as no attempt to buy yellowcake. The White House never claimed that yellowcake had been purchased.

Perhaps the Brits are wrong, and neither you nor I have the data that would allow us to KNOW that for a fact, but that does not make the Administration's words a "lie." They were true and are TRUE.

Tenet's argument that the words should not have appeared is based on the CIA's judgement that they were wrong. Perhaps the CIA is the one who is wrong.

The thing is that the words in the SOTU can be true even if the British position is actually in error. There was no claim that we have learned that. It was reported that the British had learned it, and they still back their claim.

Steven J.

RALPH -

BUSH:The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.
George Tenet, 7/11/03, http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/press_release/2003/pr07112003.html

goy

Steven - you'll have to forgive me if I don't consider this out-of-context quote as proof that the information given to the Senate was false.

I'm guessing there are better, more thoroughly researched examples, right?

Nothing on the UAV's, eh? OK.

Steven J.

RALPH - "Perhaps the CIA is the one who is wrong."

Nope -


DUELFER REPORT
http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/chap4.html

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

So far, ISG has found only one offer of uranium to Baghdad since 1991—an approach Iraq appears to have turned down.

boris

explicit PDBs

Since the PDBs did not mention teams of suicide terrorists weilding box cutters killing the pilots and flying into buildings ... before flight 93 I question if there was any concievable change in security that could have prevented it.

Arming pilots ??? take too long.

Remember at the time boxcutters were not considered a security problem. That's WHY THEY WERE CHOSEN. Had they been, some OTHER WEAPON would have been used.

The terrorists had been planning, preparing and practicing for years and any minor change in airport security would have been adapted to.

J Mann

Jim,

My take on the difference is that (1) you are obviously making it up; and (2) there are posters, like Owl, who seem pretty convinced.

Now, I'll grant, Owl could be mistaken, or a liar, or he could be telling the truth.

Still, it's not crazy for Tom to ask if anyone can identify the show. I agree that until I see the tape or transcript, I'm not going to believe it's true. But until I see refutation, I'm not going to believe it's false. I'm just going to say that I don't know.

Steven J.

GOV - "Steven - you'll have to forgive me if I don't consider this out-of-context quote "

Exactly HOW is it out of context?

TM

Try and remember from time to time that Wilson was correct in his conclusions, despite your belief he had no right to assert them.

Charming and ambiguous. Have I suggested that Wilson lacks the free speech rights available to all Americans? Or have I suggested that he ought to focus a bit more on telling the truth?

Let's see - was Wilson right when he told Kristof and Pincus (anonymously) that he had explained the flaws in the forged documents? Noo, he hadn't seen them, and later explained that Kristof and Wilson misattributed those remarks to him.

Was he right when he told Kristof that he was sent to Africa per Cheney's request, and that Cheney had been briefed about his conclusive results?

No, Cheney did not specifically request an investigation, Wilson's results were not conclusive, and Cheney was not briefed on them.

Anyway, my impression is that your reasoning is pretty simple - Wilson is anti-war, therefore everything he says it true.

As to your extrapolation - "your belief that he had no right to assert them" - well, I don't know what that means, or how you would support that. Unless I have suggested that folks don't have a right to lie, which would be an ethical rather than legal view.

But since you, too, are anti-war (and I am not), I don't suppose you need actual evidence.

Jim - re my "peddling" of thr Andrea Mitchell thing - My idea is that, if I bug them enough, the Powerguys, or somebody, will respond. Your idea is what, exactly - that if I never mention it again, everyone will quietly come around to your viewpoint?

That is a great idea. Maybe if I quit posting about Russert, he will come clean. And does this have even broader application? Maybe if Fitzgerald ends his investigation, Rove will confess. Ingenious. Wish I'd thought of it.

goy

"The aluminum tubes story was objected to by INR and DOE (the weapons guys) but Rice claimed it was rock solid."
It's been clear for a long time that dual-use technology was one of the ways Saddam was violating UN sanctions and the terms of the cease-fire with the U.S. Giving Saddam the benefit of the doubt in this regard, with his history and the fact that Iraq and the U.S. were already in a shooting war, would be less than wise by any measure. As such, it would have been irresponsible to assume that the tubes' intended use was benign.

"Simliarly, the killer drones story was objected to by Air Force experts."
Which ones? Retired guys who claim that low-tech, radio-controlled aircraft isn't sufficient to fly a small 'dirty' bomb into the port of one's choice from a few miles out at sea? Hmmm...

Oh, and I know it's hard to read with the underline, but it's "goy", BTW. ;-)

goy

Steven - it doesn't provide any context showing that the information provided to the Senate was false. It's Blix' speculation, after the fact.

Sytrek

The real issues about outing a cover agent are 1) knowledge of the covert status and most importantly, 2) intent of blowing the cover. The questions then are:

1) If Ms. Plame's cover was so deep, and outing her identity so dangerous, why did Wilson allow her maiden name to be posted on his internet bio at the Middle East Institute in 2002 where it was available in July 2003 at the time of his Op-Ed in the NYT?

2) Given the established public nature of her maiden name documented above, why didn't Wilson think that writing an Op-ed about the CIA and her subject matter expertise in the NYT and then giving public interviews about it could plausibly increase the risk (even if it was only marginally) to her job, her cover and potentially her life?

3) Given that he was so casual about making very public statements related to his wife's field of expertise and place of employment, it would be logical for any rational observer to conclude that Wilson had a lackadaisical attitude to protecting any subjects related to her wife's job. Thus the questions are, would any rational husband in the world do anything public that would create ANY risk, even minimal risk, to his wife's job and potentially her life? Would anyone even think that a husband would be so reckless?

4) Thus, knowing this information, why would any other rational person, regardless of position, when learning about her place of employment would even think or speculate that her CIA employment was of a covert nature or that there would be any sort of risk associated with mentioning it?

http://eyeontheworld.typepad.com/home/2005/07/questions_for_w_1.html

Martin

-Still, it's not crazy for Tom to ask if anyone can identify the show-

TM already put out an FPP asking for corroboration but not one righty commenter could step up to the plate. They still cant.

With such reversed falsification standards-I see now why you conservatives can push intelligent design.

Steven J.

TM - "Was he right when he told Kristof that he was sent to Africa per Cheney's request,"

Wilson didn't say Cheney.

Wilson wrote "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."

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0706-02.htm

This is support by the INR analyst who wrote

"
(U) On March 1, 2002, INR published an intelligence assessment, Niger: Sale of Uranium is Unlikely. The INR analyst who drafted the assessment told the Committee staff that he had been told that the piece was in response to interest from the Vice President’s office in the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal."

Page 42, SSCI report

Martin

"Jim - re my "peddling" of thr Andrea Mitchell thing - My idea is that, if I bug them enough, the Powerguys, or somebody, will respond."

TM-please-remember the Schiavo memo affair-remember how hard Powerlies was pushing the Dem forgery line.

Look at their response after Martinez's office claimed authorship.

You think Powerlies is going to clear this up??? Wow. Should I be disarmed by your naivete, condemn your deviousness, or scorn your ignorance?

Etienne

If the Brits had evidence of the Iraq/Africa connection, they have yet to produce it. Why do conservatives, with their purported love of hard facts, keep bringing up such a useless bit of rumor?

Wilson WAS right, in the only sense that matters: there was no Iraqi nuclear program ongoing. As this was one of the false pretenses on which this war was sold, he had not only a right, but a responsibility, as an American patriot to expose administration attempts to deceive its own citizens.

boris,I was waiting for you to reply to my use of the word "explicit". You're correct, but my point stands. If the Bushies were so much more ruthless and "terrifying" than the BJ administration, they certainly gave no signs of it in the nine long months before 9/11 when they neglected their responsibility. They instituted no new anti terrorist tactics, and by many accounts, regarded it as a low priority. The citizens of New York will forever remember how those jets circled our city for half an hour while not a single jet was scrambled to protect us.

J Mann

Re: the alleged Andrea Mitchell remark, there's a July 11 comment here stating that she made the remark "over the weekend" (i.e. July 9 or 10, 2005) on MSNBC.

I have no idea if it's true or not, but if it was on the weekend, the logical suspect would be "Meet the Press" (and Imus and Hardball are both out).

Of course, Mitchell wasn't on Meet the Press on July 10, 2005, and the July 14 Hardball transcript has her confirming that Plame was covert.

Based on that, I'll amend my position re: Powerline's Mitchell tip to "probably not true" pending further evidence.

Steven J.

TM - "was Wilson right when he told Kristof and Pincus (anonymously) that he had explained the flaws in the forged documents?"

Wilson wrote (July 6, 2003)"(As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors — they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government — and were probably forged. And then there's the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.) "

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0706-02.htm


Now, it is certainly plausible that he got this from news reports about El-Baradei's March 8, 2003 determination that the documents were forged.

"Thirteen months later, on March 8, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, informed the U.N. Security Council that after careful scrutiny of the Niger documents, his agency had reached the same conclusion as the CIA's envoy. ElBaradei deemed the documents "not authentic," an assessment that U.S. officials did not dispute. "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A46957-2003Jun11&notFound=true

J Mann

Martin,

Sorry, I didn't see your last post. I guess my position on intelligent design is similar - I don't think it's been proven false, and I certainly wouldn't discourage interested persons from making inquiries to see if it can be verified or falsified.

I take it that you think that ID is so clearly false that for persons even to wonder if there is evidence supporting it is offensive?

Steven J.

ETIENNE - "If the Brits had evidence of the Iraq/Africa connection, they have yet to produce it. "

I can't recall where I read this right now, but the Brits may be partially observing the "3rd party rule," which is kind of a gentlemen's agreement not to divulge the detailed specifics of a foreign intelligence agency report to a third party. I think they got the report from France but I will look further into this.

Tollhouse

Someone should just cut to the chase and email Andrea asking her if it's true or not. :P

Ralph Tacoma

Steven J,

"BUSH:The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.
George Tenet, 7/11/03, http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/press_release"

You are missing the point. Bush said that "the British government has learned." The British government STILL stands by that position. Bush's statement is TRUE. He stated the position of the British government.

I can say, "Osama Bin Laden believes that the world wide caliphate is ordained by God." Assuming that is his position (it's close to what I remember having read), then my statement is correct even though Bin Laden is, as I believe, wrong. I'm not lying to say that's his position.

Tenet's statement is based on the argument, that since the CIA did not agree with the British government, the statement should not have been in the SOTU. Please notice that Tenet's does not say, "those words did not represent the position of the British."

Okay, there's a reason to argue that it was too controversial, but Tenet did not say that the statement was false. The statement was, and still is, the position of the British government.

Tenet's belief, and it's not an unreasonable position, is that no claims about Iraq's actions should have been made unless the CIA concurred with the claims. That can be legitimately argued if for no other reason than to avoid controveresial statements.

The facts of the situation (in terms of whether Iraq did or did not attempt to buy yellowcake in Africa; which, btw, consists of more locations than Niger) are controversial. That does NOT make the words a LIE.

The words represent the present position of the British government. The CIA disagrees. The Brits have been wrong before, but then, so has the CIA.

Remember, the CIA also believed that Saddam had stock piles of WMDs. Tenet is quoted as having said that they were a "slam-dunk." Gee, they were, apparently at least, very clearly wrong in that case. They might very well be wrong in this case as well.

I don't KNOW that, nor do you. Neither of us have access to all of the data. We do have access to the public statements of the British government that they stand by their claim.

Given the fact that all the FACTS that I (and you, unless you've got classified sources) have are the contradictory statements by two generally well-regarded intelligence organizations, both of whom have been right many times, but also wrong in a spectacular matter on some occasions, I do not KNOW which is correct, and I think that you do not KNOW either.

Perhaps the words should not have been in the SOTU for the controversy concern, but it is FACT that the words as written are true. That was and is the position of the British. The British may be wrong, but Bush did not make up their words or position.


cathyf

Saddam certainly had substantial stockpiles of WMDs, and the current Iraqi government still has them. As a whole bunch of us learned on 9/11/01, an aircraft with big tanks of jet fuel is a WMD. I thought everyone learned that on 9/11 (ok, the 19 hijackers and their operational support knew it before then.) But it appears that there are lots of people who learned nothing on 9/11 and nothing since. The whole "stockpile" argument is ludicrous anyway. We certainly didn't have a "stockpile" of nuclear weapons in 1945 (the 2 we dropped in Japan were the last 2 we had for awhile) so are you going to argue that all those dead people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "lying" about being dead too? Do you think that the Japanese generals "lied" to the emperor when they told him it was time to surrender?

Joe Wilson's alfred-e-newman act about how of course Saddam could never get any yellowcake because of the UN sanctions is pretty comical. First of all, the notion that a guy who has stolen 20-some billion-with-a-b dollars can't buy whatever he wants in a poverty-struck 3rd-world country is PIMP laughable. And as the OFF investigation has shown us, if the guys in Niger turned him down, they are about the only humans on the planet who did.

cathy :-)

Steven J.

RALPH - "I do not KNOW which is correct, and I think that you do not KNOW either. "

We know now:


DUELFER REPORT
http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/chap4.html

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

So far, ISG has found only one offer of uranium to Baghdad since 1991—an approach Iraq appears to have turned down.

Jim E.

TM,
I think your July post was responsible in that you requested verification on the Andrea Mitchell thing. That July post showed two things (via the comment thread): 1. no verification of Andrea Mitchell quote exists and 2. there are actual Andrea Mitchell quotes that implicitly contradict what the Powerline folks alleged. For you to continue to peddle this weeks later is not responsible.

Martin made good points about Powerline's lack of credibility. (And while Martin brought up Intelligent Design in passing, I think one of the Powerline folks wrote an entire post mocking evolution, so Martin is more right on that point than he perhaps knew.)

Do you really think your blog will push Russert to come clean? Wow, what an ego. And since it was missed on you, my annoyance at your Mitchell thing is fueled in large part because it subtracts attention (and credibility) from your righteous focus on Russert and others.

J Mann,
Intelligent design (like conspiracy theories) is non-falsifiable. It is not science. Anyone who pushes ID is at best ignorant and at worst fraudulent. This is a serious issue, especially in terms of changing school curriculums. I can recommend books or websites if you're interested. So while your question was not directed at me, I will answer it: Yes, ID is so clearly false that I find the peddling of it to be offensive. Ignorance is okay (I'm ignorant on most subjects), but one should ignorantly push for something they aren't informed about. To argue in favor of ID in science classes is akin to pushing holocaust denial in history classes. You know, teach the debate an all that.


Jim E.

"an aircraft with big tanks of jet fuel is a WMD."

Actually, no, that's not a WMD, unless you're just making up definitions.

kim

Etienne: The news turns like the tide and now you don't want to confuse hoi polloi with the details? Just listen to the party line, and remember it.
==============================================

Jim E.

Er, that sentence should have read: " ...one should NOT ignorantly push..."

Steven J.

CATHYF - "But it appears that there are lots of people who learned nothing on 9/11"

As a former resident of Manhattan, I find your comment very offensive.

Steven J.

JIM E. - "I think one of the Powerline folks wrote an entire post mocking evolution"

Yeah, it was AssRocket. It was fun to read the biologists slap that little whore around! :-)

J Mann

Jim,

We're way off topic, but I can't resist.

1) "Non-falsifiable" is not the same as "clearly false." In fact, they're sufficiently close to antonyms that you probably shouldn't use both of them to refer to ID.

2) You're right that ID is more philosophy than science, and that it's currently not possible to prove it false, but all that tells you is that science can't tell you if it's true or false. If someone concludes from that that they don't know if ID is true or false, I don't see the problem.

Joe Mealyus

"Should I be disarmed by your naivete, condemn your deviousness, or scorn your ignorance?"

Or admire his ability to keep things in perspective?

Martin

"I take it that you think that ID is so clearly false that for persons even to wonder if there is evidence supporting it is offensive?"

No-I believe in the Good Lord myself J Mann-but it's NOT Science.

Take ID and the AM quote-there is absolutely no (scientific, observable, empirical) evidence for the objective existence of either one.

Nevertheless-there is no definite proof that they are false.

So you believe in them. Fine it's a free country.

But that's reversed falsifiability-and hence NOT science.

Etienne

Ralph, Bush could also have said "The British government has learned that we are 'fixing' the facts around the intelligence and that we are attempting to 'wrongfoot' Saddam into instigating a war". That would also have been TRUE, by your logic.

Bush's decision to include unverified rumors in such an important SOTU, when he was sending American sons and daughters to war, was evidence of the profound disrespect he has for the traditions and honor of our nation.

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