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November 03, 2005

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Comments

BurbankErnie

TM,
You give this pinhead too much credit. He didn't even admit mistakes were made. He put all the blame on those terrible right wing blogs.

I think everyone who can read this should email this particular pinhead (and I AM being nice) the link to your article and also to Dupes R Us, a fantastic article you mentioned by Matthew Continetti.

And the beat goes on....

Jeff

On the question of debunking the documents, there are three different things: 1)debunking the documents; 2)seeing the documents; 3)asserting that the names were wrong and the dates were wrong. Wilson did not see the documents. The CIA, along with a host of other government agencies apparently, had verbatim text of the forged documents back in February 2002. These were discussed with Wilson at the February 19, 2002 meeting. It would be nice to know whether the issue of whose names should be and were reported to be on the documents and when the documents dated from was discussed. My bet is yes. Regardless of that point, when Wilson, to his own satisfaction, discovered that no agreement between Niger and Iraq did or could have taken place as alleged by the verbatim text of the documents, that effectively debunked the documents as forgeries. Let's not forget too that Wilson himself did not write up his own report; it was written up by others after having debriefed Wilson. emptywheel has an interesting post on these issues and much else, going along with an ongoing series by eriposte over at the Left Coaster.

boris

The wording in the column is simply

Which Kristof's fellow journalists "misinterpreted" in exactly the same way and used the "misinterpreted" interpretations to challange the administration.

Responding to "misinterpreted" interpretations is the fault of the "misinterpreted" challanges not the postclinton reading comprehension of the right.

Anonymous Liberal

I entirely agree that Kristof's "correction" is cryptic and strange (not to mention way overdue). I also agree that Wilson has made some questionable statements and should not be lionized as some sort of hero by the Left. He's just a guy who's milking his 15 minutes.

That said, I agree with Kristof that the Right's criticism of Wilson is a little distasteful. It's been entirely over-the-top. I find it comical that so many on the Right (not you, TM) are so anxious to parse Wilson's every word, but don't seem to be bothered by blatant lying by White House officials both publicly and under oath. Even if Wilson is a total crackpot, he's just a private citizen. His overstatements and embellishments were not under oath. He didn't 'out' anybody. Wilson is a distraction, a way for the Right to ignore the conduct that is actually at issue in this affair.

Wilson's actions and statements in no way justified the outing of his wife or the perjury and obstruction afterwards. Is the rule that if some private citizen lies, then White House officials get to lie too, even under oath?

When Clinton was President, lier after lier wrote stories and went on TV accusing him of all sorts of things, including rape and murder. There was an entire legion of muckrakers dedicated to lying about Clinton. But that certainly wouldn't have justified or mitigated illegal conduct on the part of Clinton's White House, even if it was just in response. White House officials don't have carte blanche to do whatever you want just because private citizens are lying about them. Nor should they.

I appreciate the fact that this site has dedicated a significant amount of time to exploring the real issues here, i.e., whether or not there was official misconduct. Lazy media scribes (like Kristof) and annoying blowhards (like Wilson) deserve their share of criticism. I just wish more conservatives (again, not you TM) would realize that however poorly Joe Wilson or the media have behaved, that is at best a side issue and certainly does not justifiy or excuse the conduct of White House officials.

pollyusa

To add to Jeff's excellent post, here is the text found in the SSCI regarding details of the verbatum text dicussed at the 2/02 meeting Wilson attended.

The INR analyst's notes also indicate that specific details of the classified report on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal were discussed at the meeting,
SSCI

That Wilson came away from that meeting, without actually seeing the report, with knowledge that the IC thought that "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong" seems quite likely.

Sue

I am a private citizen. The CIA isn't asking me to go debunk that 'crazy story' in Niger. The CIA isn't meeting me at my house to debrief me. I am not shopping a bogus story to journalists. I am not joining the Kerry team as an advisor. I am not making speeches at EPIC. I am not writing op-eds in the NYTs. I am not being photographed for Vanity Fair. Joe Wilson quit being a private citizen when he went on a mission for the CIA, came back and talked about it. I am a private citizen.

Cheez-Wiz

Oops Libby lied again. He plead not guilty.

topsecretk9

It would be nice to know whether the issue of whose names should be and were reported to be on the documents and when the documents dated from was discussed.

then it would appear to be a mute point, because Wilson has told us...

Well, I'm not exactly sure what public comments they're referring to. If they're referring to leaks or sources, unidentified government sources in articles that appeared before my article in "The New York Times" appeared, those are either misquotes or misattributions if they're attributed to me.

but from the SSCI, we learn

On February 20, 2002, CPD provided the former ambassador with talking points for his use with contacts in Niger. The talking points were general, asking officials if Niger had been approached, conducted discussions, or entered into any agreements concerning uranium transfers with any "countries of concern". The talking points also focused on whether any uranium might be missing from Niger or might have been transferred and asked how Niger accounts for all of its uranium each year. The talking points did not refer to the specific reporting on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal, did not mention names or dates from the reporting, and did not mention that there was any such deal being reported in intelligence channels.DO officials told Committee staff that they promised the former ambassador that they would keep his relationship with CIA confidential, but did not ask the former ambassador to do the same and did not ask him to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. The former ambassador left for Niger on February 21, 2002.

'The former ambassador also told Committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article ("CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report of Uranium Bid," June 12, 2003) which said, "among the Envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because `the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong" when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. The former ambassador said that he may have "misspoken" to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were "forged."

and
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 or 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.

RogerA

I am perplexed at anonymous liberals protestations--lets review the indictment against Libby--for lying to the investigators and grand jury--NO indictments for "outing," white house conspiracies or the like--

As a conservative, I am all for throwing the book at Libby for lying; I dont believe you will find a real conservative who views Libby's actions as reprehensible.

The Fitzgeral did his investigation professionally, without leaks, and the white house did not demonize him or his investigation--Indictments were made, and a trial will proceed.

I might also take issue with your statement about Wilson as a private citizen--he was serving as a retire FSO-1 as a representative of the USA and I will be we was carrying a red passport.

Go back and review the indictments, AL--you are assuming a lot of facts not evidence.

RogerA

apoogies--second graf my post--"I dont believe you will find a real conservative who views Libby's actions as OTHER THAN reprehensible.

Brutus

This Kristof response is disgraceful. Kristof is being intellectually dishonest, plain and simple, in calling Wilson a private citizen. He knows that is not true in any sense of the term when it comes to this story.

The intellectual dishonesty goes further. There is a story, plausible and capable of investigation, as to why Wilson was picked for the trip and what motivated him throughout this affair. Not merely a "right wing" theory but a verifiable story: the backdrop of the already widely-reported war between the CIA and White House, the odd choice of someone outside the CIA to investigate the Niger claims -- coupled with the views of at least some at the CIA that existing agency assets could do a better job than Wilson on this issue, the failure to require him to sign an NDA, the discrepancies between what Wilson told his debriefers and what he told Kristof and the rest of the world, those speeches he gave where he allegedly warned of the danger posed by Saddam's WMDs, Wilson's eventual role with the Kerry campaign, etc., etc., it is inconceiveable that no intrepid reporter/columnist at a major newspaper would find any of this unworthy of investigation and coverage.

I don't agree with Kristof on many issues, but I always considered him unafraid of the truth wherever it might lead. Sadly, his "clarification" reveals a newfound reluctance to confront the facts staring him in the face.

topsecretk9

The talking points did not refer to the specific reporting on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal, did not mention names or dates from the reporting, and did not mention that there was any such deal being reported in intelligence channels.

boris

A rather bold statement there TS!

Jeff

topsecretk9 - What exactly do you take the significance of your double super bolded text to be? Maybe we can use this as a test case of my claim that the SSCI is misleading in its presentation of facts.

Anonymous Liberal

Roger,
I don't think I am "assuming a lot of facts not in evidence." I didn't say anything about a conspiracy in my previous post. And yes, Plame was "outed." Whether that outing amounted to a crime is another question, but she was outed nonetheless. Her affiliation with the CIA was classified and Novak blew her cover. Fitzgerald said both those things right at the beginning of his press conference in clear plain english.

And my point was not that Wilson doesn't deserve to be criticized. It was that it makes no sense to exclusively criticize Wilson. He's a side issue, at best. This investigation isn't about him.

On a related note, I can't count the number of times I've heard otherwise intelligent people say this week that Fitzgerald's indictment proves there was no conspiracy or underlying crime. That's total rubbish. Just because Fitzgerald has decided that he can't (yet) prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a conspiracy or underlying crime occurred doesn't mean they didn't happen. It may turn out that there was no conspiracy or underlying crime, but just because something isn't charged doesn't mean it didn't happen. Using that reasoning, Al Capone was guilty of nothing more than committing mail fraud. Please. Moreover, Fitzgerald's indictment strongly suggests that he feels that an underlying crime may have been committed. There are a lot of facts which appear to be included in the indictment for the sole purpose of supporting the inference that Libby knew Plame's identity was classified. In fact, Fitzgerald will likely use that evidence to establish motive at trial. He'll argue that Libby was attempting to cover up underlying conduct. So the jury is still very much out on whether there was an underlying crime or a conspiracy to cover it up.

lemondloulou54

Hello? Why was the VP's office so testy on this subject? One would think that tough guys like Cheney et al could take mosquito-like folks such as Wilson and Kristof, no? why even react to them? Hell, the Dalai Lama lets mosquitos drink from his arm! But Wilson really hit a nerve, didn't he? And why was that? Have you ever stopped to think about that instead of parsing what people say. Actions speak louder than words, and it's the VP and his offices actions that were criminal.

Al

More Kristof:

"Incidentally, when the White House did once raise the issue of my Niger reporting with me, the senior official who complained did not argue that any of this was incorrect. Rather, he noted that Bush's reference in the State of the Union address was to "Africa" rather than to Niger -- and that even if the Niger connection was fraudulent, there were possible linkages to other African countries like Congo that could have made Bush's 16 words technically correct. That was a very flimsy branch, and the official gave up the argument pretty quickly."

I wonder whether Kristof ever heard of the Butler Report? You know, the UK government's report that said that Bush's 16 words were not only "technically correct" but "well founded"?

Apparently not.

RogerA

Perhaps I misread your initial post AL, but I certainly inferred you believed the White House to be behind the "outing" of VP; and I continue to infer that believe there are some underlying shenanigans--And, of course you are right, just because something isn't charged didnt mean it didnt happen. Do you have another mechanism to find out if it did, in fact, happen? Or perhaps the WH conspiracy was so adept, Fitzgerald simply couldnt uncover it. It seems to me you are mirror imaging the thinking of those you decry--I suspect we will not convince each other of our respective points, so lets agree to disagree and see what the results of the trial are--and as a good liberal, I am sure you are giving Libby the presumption of innocence.

The Unbeliever

Wilson's actions and statements in no way justified the outing of his wife or the perjury and obstruction afterwards

I'd say his actions and statements certainly justified pushback from the White House and detailed scrutiny of Wilson's claims. And the nature of his charges, especially in the middle of the war, were such that the whatever came to light would inevitably become public. Whether scrutiny of his credibility should have included potential nepotism in the form of his connected wife is a subject for debate, I suppose.

And a random question, because I haven't been paying attention: does Valerie Wilson/Plame still work at the CIA? Has her outing done anything to hamper her usefulness as an analyst? I'm sure her usefulness as an undercover agent is shot, but if Wilson had more than two brain cells in 2003 he had to have known that was inevitable.

Sue

Anon,

Al Capone was only guilty of committing mail fraud (I thought it was tax evasion, but oh well). You are doing our justice system a huge disservice by convicting people of something they aren't even being tried for. When and if Fitzgerald indicts for other charges, your point might be valid.

Sue

To follow through with my thought...that is like saying Clinton (both of them) were guilty because there had to be more to the Whitewater story than we knew, especially since Susan McDougal chose to go to jail rather than testify and Ken Starr would not just let it go.

Chants

Pllyusa noted:

"That Wilson came away from that meeting,
without actually seeing the report, with
knowledge that the IC thought that "the
dates were wrong and the names were
wrong" seems quite likely."

Interesting point, and entirely possible.

But I have to ask. Was this sensitve information imparted to Wilson before or after he was granted his "operational clearance"? What official procedures must be followed in order to be granted an "operational clearance"? What forms must be signed? Were those procedures followed and those forms signed by those involved in the Niger trip? If not, why not? And if they weren't, is there any "safety-gap" rule, statute, or regulation requiring anyone with a clearance, whether a "security clearance" or a "operational clearance", to keep secret any classified information imparted to him or her even if proper procedures were not followed?

I ask these questions in part because I hear many people speaking eloquently about the unintended consequences of failing to keep secret information secret.

Wilson's a liar

If Joe Wilson was set up by the Kerry campaign, his motives and actions certainly are a central issue in this story. If he was used to spread false stories to a gullible, Bush-hating press in order to undermine the President in the middle of an election campaign, and he was promised a juicy appointment in a Kerry Administration in return, it certainly is a central issue in this story.

If Wilson "struck a nerve" with the White House, perhaps it was because people there saw right away what was going on - a former Clinton NSC staffer and Kerry campaign adviser was spreading lies about Dick Cheney sending him to Niger and ignoring his report, and he was getting away with it. And how convenient, as Zell Miller pointed out yesterday in the AJC, that he could hide the real story behind his wife's classified status. At least until Novak exposed him as a liar.

It is simply comical to claim that Joe Wilson is NOT the central issue here.

topsecretk9

Jeff
In honor of polly, I bold

Maybe we can use this as a test case of my claim that the SSCI is misleading in its presentation of facts.

Yes we know that you claim the SSCI is misleading, but since you are just you, who are you to know better?

Joe can't have it all ways (well he can but it would show that he was the beneficiary of classified info)...the talking points (instructions) and requests by the US Ambassador in Niger (to limit his discussions) illustrate that Joe was sent to gather more "details".

Now Joe either A) turned his trip into a 007 mission charging himself to go beyond what he was asked to do or B) he has lied his way into papers by distorting his findings and significance or C) he was not lying but recipient of classified information (or a combination of AB and C--I raise my hand here)

DIA and CIA analysts said that when they saw the intelligence 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. They did not find Nigerian denials that they had discussed uranium sales with Iraq as very surprising because they had no expectation that Niger would admit to such an agreement if it did exist. The analysts did, however, find it interesting that the former Nigerian Prime Minister said an Iraqi delegation had visited Niger for what he believed was to discuss uranium sales.

(U) 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 or 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.

Wilson's a liar

And another thing - if Joe Wilson wants to know what real White House retaliation against a whistleblower looks like, he might want to give Linda Tripp a call.

Anonymous Liberal

Sue, Roger,
I'm not "convicting people of something they aren't even being tried for." In fact, I said that the jury was still out as to whether there was any underlying crime. My point was only that we don't know, and that it's therefore silly to conclude, as many on the Right have, that no underlying crime was committed. I haven't concluded anything definitively one way or the other because I don't have enough information.

As for the point about not giving Libby the "presumption of innonence," this is a commonly misunderstood idea. The phrase refers to a legal presumption, not a logical one. All it means is that Libby must be treated, for legal purposes, as if he were innocent until he is convicted. It says nothing whatsoever about what a rational human being should conclude based on the publicly available evidence. In other words, it's not a rule of logic. For example, someone who is caught on tape murdering someone is also entitled to a legal presumption of innocence. That doesn't mean that intelligent people must reserve judgment or refrain from excercising their logical faculties. Libby's story is implausible on it's face. Fitzgerald's indictment is very damning. While I am open to the possibility that new information will somehow exculpate Libby, I feel fairly confident in infering from the available evidence that Libby did in fact lie to the grand jury. Fitzgerald is certainly very convinced of this, or else he would not have brought these charges.

Don't confuse legal burdens of proof with logical reasoning.

mattman

Wilson just a private citizen? Gimme a break. This guy went on a mission as a US government official. He then began a smear campaign against the White House, first anonymously and then with his name attached, claiming that the Bush Administration knowingly ignored evidence that undermined the case for war. In fact, there is at least a substantial basis for believing that Wilson lied about his role and even about the contents of his "report." And now he's the victim, and we should get off his back? Forget it.

Jeff

topsecretk9 - Once again, I can't quite make out what your answer to what I thought was my straightforward question is. But from what I can figure out from your reply, I'm not quite sure why you equate talking points (which Wilson received) with what he was being asked to do. Against what you say, talking points are not instructions. Moreover -- and your pointless snarking aside, here's where I suspected you were being misled by the SSCI passage you cited -- the SSCI report itself elsewhere states that Wilson did in fact discuss the intelligence report from February 2002 at his February 19, 2002 meeting, and, again I think elsewhere in the report, we learn that that Febrruary 2002 report contained what was understood to be verbatim text of what eventually turned out to be the forged documents. In that sense he was a recipient of classified information, on the assumption that that the February 2002 report was classified.

Here's another example of the suspiciousness of the SSCI report. The last bit you cite makes it sound like the report produced out of WIlson's trip never made it to the Vice President's office. But it doesn't actually say that. All it says is that the CIA did not brief the VP on it, which is only one species of the ways the VP's office might have learned of the reports's contents.

TM

Good point by Polly and Jeff about Wilson seeing summaries. Here we go, I am taking this new spin out for a, well, spin:

As to what was discussed at the meeting - first, that meeting was before Wilson left. Maybe he debunked the forgeries, jauntily waved good-bye, and flew to Niger to enjoy the tea.

But it seems odd that he knew enough about Niger and how their controls/signatures worked to debunk the documents even before he left.

Secondly, Tenet does say that the written summary of his oral report made no mention of documents.

And thirdly, that bit of the SSCI is about as opaque as this Kristof colummn, but... it seems like different folks from the fateful meeting were bobbing and weaving as to whether Wilson had the right clearance, and whether anyone actually showed him the document summaries.

I would bet they showed him something, but it reads to me like a bit of a cover-up.

J Mann

Argh. Let me get this straight - Kristof writes this:

In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.



and he thinks the only problem with it is that "the references to the documents themselves make it sound as if the envoy had the documents in possession, while in fact he didn’t."

Does Kristof seriously believe that Wilson reported that the documents were forged, and that his "debunking of the forgery" was "passed around the administration?"

How would Wilson even know whether the report was passed around the administration? On the other hand, if Kristof is standing by that statement, it's at least a light suggestion that the source for the "passed around" comment was Plame, not Wilson.

MeTooThen

All,

Could someone find the quote where Fitzgerald states that Veronica Double-O-Flame's name was classified, or that the fact that she worked at the CIA was classified?

This is important, I think.

It appears that Mrs. Joseph Charles Wilson IV's status at the Agency was classified.

I am yet to understand how and by whom she was outed?

Her name could not have been classified as it appeared in Who's Who for several years, as did it before the NY Times editorial in other publications.

Just askin'.

RogerA

AL--for the record, I agree that there is prima facie evidence that Libby lied--We agree on that issue; and that is all the Fitzgerald came up with after two years of investigation--Will other evidence emerge showing some white house conspiracy? possibly, so we can not discount that eventuality on a logical basis--When that evidence emerges, I will look at it then and, until then, refrain from making any judgments about the guilt of other parties not now indicted no matter how logical those speculations might appear.

A final note--of course it is "logically" possible other crimes were committed; but that isnt the way the legal system operates--and thus far the legal system as indicted one person.

Jeff

But it seems odd that he knew enough about Niger and how their controls/signatures worked to debunk the documents even before he left.

Why? Only if you buy the rightie talking point that Wilson was utterly unqualified for the trip, which is utterly untrue. On the contrary, Wilson was quite knoweldgeable about who would be in the relevant offices at the time of the alleged agreements and documents.

Secondly, Tenet does say that the written summary of his oral report made no mention of documents.

True, which raises several questions. 1) Did Wilson say anything about the documents to his CIA debriefers that, for one reason or another that I can guess at, didn't make it into the actual report written by others? 2) Might Wilson not have said anything about the documents because a) he had already dealt with that, as far as he was concerned, in his meeting of February 19, whereas the trip was for another angle on the set of questions raised; or b)as you suggest, because he was aware that he was not supposed to have seen the documents on the 19th, and he did, so he didn't say anything to his CIA debriefers?

I would bet they showed him something, but it reads to me like a bit of a cover-up.

Or at least they talked about the reports in some detail, but no one is sure to what extent that was kosher, so no one takes full responsibility for it. By the same token, I suspect some of Wilson's bobbing and weaving on the issue of the documents is some combination of the same uncertainty and a more laudable recognition that he was dealing with classified information, so he couldn't (or shouldn't, for those less sympathetic) be very specific and clear about it. Consider, in this regard, that Wilson starts to talk right when the documents are declared forgeries by the IAEA, presumably -- in his mind at least -- making them either actually or effectively no longer classified.

JonofAtlanta

'..but of asserting something that had already been flatly discredited by an envoy investigating at the behest of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.'

Dear Mr. Kristof:
In Logic 101, we learn that a negative ('there was NO attempt to purchase uranium, etc..') cannot be proven. Only the positive can be proven ('I have bulletproof evidence of the attempt,etc..).

Therefore your 'envoy' CANNOT 'flatly discredit' the assertions of the VP.

I cannot prove that Bigfoot DOESN'T live in a condo in Boca Raton.

Not.Even.Remotely.Possible.

Anonymous Liberal

MeeTooThen:

This is from Fitzgerald's press conference:

"Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003,the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003."

I suppose Fitzgerald could just be wrong about all this, but I doubt it.

Brutus

Unbeliever -- you hit the nail's head. But there's really more here.
Libby clearly was engaged in pushback. This notion that "outing" Plame was Libby/Cheney's motivation is so patently absurd. Imagine the scene:

CHENEY: This Wilson guy is a harsh administration critic who calls into question the intelligence on which we sold the Iraq war to the American public. What do we do about him?

LIBBY: (rubbing hands together) Let's out his wife from her CIA cover. That will serve as due punishment for Wilson's criticisms of the intelligence on which we sold the Iraq war to the American public.

CHENEY: Yes. Outing her will really show 'em. But Scooter, won't people think that we outed her to show that Wilson's trip was really a CIA agenda-driven mission and not some honest investigation? If people thought that, maybe Wilson won't get the message we are trying to send him by outing his wife.

LIBBY: Don't worry. No one will mistake the outing for pushback.

By all accounts -- including those of the NY Times and others outside the "right" -- Cheney became highly concerned (obsessed?) with WMD threats after 9/11. Cheney (and Libby, Wolfowitz, etc.) knew -- KNEW -- that the CIA had blown it at least twice with respect to Iraq WMD issues. First, the CIA was unaware of Iraqqi WMD programs and capabilities that were discovered after the 1991 Gulf War. Second, the CIA deemed Khidir Hamza, the former Iraq weapons prgram official (head?), not credible because of his INC involvement, just as the CIA routinely (and sometimes correctly) deemed not credible all INC-connected defectors and intelligence -- but the CIA was proven wrong with respect to Hamza and his information. Let's not forget that the CIA did not come close to uncovering the 9/11 plot either.

So you have Cheney et al highly concerned about WMDs and terrorism, and a CIA that has done a less-than-stellar job gathering and verifying information about WMDs and terrorism. And you have a CIA that no longer (if ever) viewed itself as an instrument of a duly elected administration's policies, but rather as the policymaker itself (in the guise of recommending what is possible/likely based on its intelligence). Accordingly, Cheney sets up an alternative intel gathering and analysis mechanism -- BECAUSE THE CIA HAD DROPPED THE BALL SO MANY TIMES THAT ITS ASSESSMENTS COULD NOT BE TRUSTED. And at some point, this Wilson guy, not an agency operative, comes out and announces that he uncovered information contrary to the White House's statements regarding Iraq but it was disregarded. Wilson goes public, says things that are not true, says things he never told his debriefers -- and by the way, why is this guy speaking publicly about a CIA mission anyway? Didn't he sign an NDA? Cheney sees this as part of the CIA's ongoing attack on those who have "intruded" on its turf (on which it had performed oh-so-well). So Cheney/Libby/whomever decides the public ought to know that Wilson was sent by his wife for this trip, because maybe, just maybe, this is information that would shed some light on what the CIA was up to. Is this plausible?

Or is it more plausible that Cheney and WHIG were making up intel. Concocting it from whole cloth. Why? To get us into war. Why? To (a) make Haliburton rich, and/or (b) fulfill the Je-er... neocon dream of democraticizing the mideast for Isra-er... peace. But ol' Joe Wilson came along and came dangerously close to debunking this whole scheme. So he had to be taught a lesson. But these ruthless Republicans, who so easily sacrifice American blood and treasure, who will expend life for oil, who will stop at nothing to get what they want -- how do they "get" Wilson, teach him and every other whistleblower to stay away from the "truth" of their nefarious plot?

They out his wife.

pollyusa

TM

I didn't say and I doubt that Wilson saw the report, I said that Wilson likely left the 2/02 meeting with the knowledge that the Intelligence Community thought "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong".

On the general bobbing and weaving you are correct, but in the SSCI the paragragh stating that the specifc details of the report were discussed contains only one other sentence and that details Wilson's clearance.

Additionally, why would Wilson bother to mention the documents in his debriefing, if he had knowledge on the IC postion on the documents.

BTW thanks again for html link to the report.

clarice

TM,once again, I tip my hat to the master. (Not just for cracking into Time Select , but for your excellent analysis of the Kristof blather.)

Florence Schmieg

Not Guilty!! So we proceed. I hope to see Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Matt Cooper, Judy Miller, Walter Pincus, Nicholas Kristof, (have I forgotten anyone?) on the witness stand and cross-examined by the defense for once. I look forward to Dick Cheney's icy answers to the prosecution that once and for all will put these absurd conspiracy theories to rest.

tibor

Not sure if Tom or anyone else has advanced this theory -- VP asks about reports that Iraq has tried to purchase yellowcake from Niger, asks CIA. Valerie Plame recommends that the CIA send Wilson to investigate this "crazy" story about Iraq trying to buy yellowcake in Niger. CIA sends Wilson. Wilson reports back to CIA (former PM thinks they wanted to buy yellowcake in 1999). CIA doesn't tell VP. Forged Niger documents come to light. Valerie Plame learns about them and tells Wilson (during pillowtalk?). POTUS uses 16 words about British reports of Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa (not Niger). Wilson talks to Kristof, Pincus, et al. and Libby talks to Cooper, Miller, Russert, et al. Wilson writes op-ed. The rest, as they say, is history.

Perhaps Wilson told Kristof about the forged documents HIS WIFE HAD SEEN? He had to backtrack (or misremember or claim he was misquoted to protect the fact that his wife leaked info about the forged documents to him). This would explain her attitude about the "crazy" report. It would also explain Wilson's knowledge of the forged documents that he had never seen. Any takers? Has anyone advanced this yet?

Florence Schmieg

I forgot Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson. instead of being interviewed by friendly CNN and MSM types, they can answer questions from Libby's top flight defense lawyers. Let the games begin.

MeTooThen

AnonLib,

Thanks.

But did the Special Prosecutor say when and by whom Mrs. Joseph Charles Wilson IV was outed?

Here again, from the WaPo,

"The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said."

This is confusing.

Really.

Now, the Special Prosecutor may yet indict someone for this outing, but who?

It seems to me, on the surface at least, there is as much indication that the Ambassador of Sweet Mint Tea shared information regarding Veronica-00-Flame with the John Forbes Kerry campaign, Mr. Kristoff and others, as there is indication that RovEvil or Scooter did.

Again, if Scooter lied to the Grand Jury, my understanding is that he did wrong and may face punishment for that. So be it.

But it seems strange, or strained, that there remains so much energy devoted to the "Outing for Blowback" scandal when there doesn't seem to be much there there.

Just sayin'.

Chants

Jeff wrote:

"I suspect some of Wilson's bobbing and weaving on the issue of the documents is some combination of the same uncertainty and a more laudable recognition that he was dealing with classified information, so he couldn't (or shouldn't, for those less sympathetic) be very specific and clear about it. Consider, in this regard, that Wilson starts to talk right when the documents are declared forgeries by the IAEA, presumably -- in his mind at least -- making them either actually or effectively no longer classified."

Interesting question, Jeff. Just what was on Joe's mind regarding the secrecy of his mission? Joe Wilson, 07/06/03: "The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret." No bobbing and weaving there.

However, the CIA appears to think that trip was secret. SSCI report: ...[Wilson]had been given an "operational clearance" up to the Secret level for the purposes of his trip to Niger."

I recognize, Jeff, that you were speaking of the "documents," and I leaped over to "mission". But it certainly seems that Joe Wilson -- in his mind at least -- made the same leap. A leap, I might add, which led to his concluding that a mission that started in a room in Langly containing his wife, supposed super spy Valerie Plame, was not secret.

I agree with you Jeff, that Joe has a good resume and has good connections in Niger. But he stinks at handling intelligence. I think that sending him to Niger was just about the dumbest idea ever hatched at the CIA.

I wonder who suggested it?


Cecil Turner

Not sure what's unclear about "As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it." And hopefully I'm not the only one who thinks it unlikely that the dates were briefed in enough detail to note the day-of-week error, and yet the forgeries went unchallenged. Further, it looks like the names were at that time considered to be a supporting point:

On February 18,2002, the embassy in Niger disseminated a cable which reported that the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal “provides sufficient detail to warrant another hard look at Niger’s uranium sales. The names of GON [government of Niger] officials cited in the report track closely with those we know to be in those, or closely-related positions. However, the purported 4,000-ton annual production listed is fully 1,000 tons more than the mining companies claim to have produced in 2001.”
And, yet, according to Tenet, Wilson's perspicacious observation doesn't appear in his report: "There was no mention in the report of forged documents -- or any suggestion of the existence of documents at all." Trying to come up with some convoluted explanation of how he might not have been lying on the point seems a bit of a stretch.

But the only thing I really want to know from Kristof is when he knew about Plame.

J Mann

Tom,

I hate to dump cold water on part of the theory, but I don't think we can be 100% sure that Plame was present at the May leak breakfast with Kristof. IIRC, the article that you always link to says that "Wilson had breakfast with Kristof and his wife."

As Daffy Duck would say, "Ah, pronoun trouble!" Kristof and Wilson were and are both married. I agree that it's likely Plame was there, but it's possible that Kristof's wife was there instead.

clarice

As I recall, the SSCI (or the additional views) report stated clearly that the CIA denied Wilson had seen any of the classified documents (that is, the memo or the forgeries). Is my memory failing yet again?

Reg Jones

TM, did you catch this Dana Priest comment?

How do you answer critics who point out this may be a 'leak' that could potentially compromise national security, ala the Plame leak?

Dana Priest: I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position.... [WaPo, Online Chat, 11/03/05]

Sue

Anon,

I would never dream of confusing legal with logical.

You think it is okay to poison the jury pool with facts not established?

clarice

Some people watch too many crappy movies about Washington.

I seriously doubt that Cheney or anybody else wanted to kick Wilson in the ankles (interfere with Plame's job).They wanted to kick the story in the nuts(prove it was false which it was BTW.).

clarice

Reg--great catch!

Reg Jones

TM or anyone else. Slightly OT.

Does anyone know the purpose of Wilson's 1999 mission to Niger for the CIA?

From the SSCI report and comments by Wilson I gather the mission was:
1. About Uranium
2. Not about Iraq
3. Plame suggested Wilson for the mission.

My specualtion was this mission was about Iran's 1998 attempts to purchase urnaium from Niger. But that's just an educated guess. Anyone else?

Sue

Why are they using Wilson for missions concerning WMDs? Not once but 2x.

Anonymous Liberal

MeeTooThen:

Here's the continuation of Fitzgerald's comments:

"Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told.

In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

I know it's a common talking point in the right-wing blogosphere to suggest that Wilson 'outed' his own wife, but there is absolutely no basis for that whatsoever. Wilson has never, for even a second, been the subject of this investigation. How do I know this? Well, he doesn't even have a criminal attorney. When Fitzgerald had a question for Wilson a few weeks ago, he phoned Wilson directly. That means Wilson is a witness and nothing more.

A number of commenters have suggested that the idea that Plame was "outed" is ludicrous. This is silly. She was clearly outed. In Fitzgerald's own words, "it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown." Now we can debate whether or not her cover was blown intentionally or inadvertently, but people need to stop questioning the basic fact that her cover was blown (unless they have some solid evidence that Fitzgerald is wrong).

Fitzgerald made it clear in his press conference (see above) that his investigation has concluded that Scooter Libby was the first official to discuss Plame's identity with a reporter (on June 23 with Judy Miller). Whether or not that was a crime is yet to be determined. Perhaps Libby outed her intentionally. Perhaps he did not know she was undercover and therefore was merely reckless. We'll see. The reason Libby was indicted was because, when he was asked this question, he apparently lied, repeatedly.

clarice

Reg, in an article for UVA (Macsmind has it up) he said it was to persuade the old leader of Niger to leave the country briefly and let the newly elected head to run the place.

In other news I received some hate mail today and have reported it to gmail as that was its source. A the other stuff is filtered thru my editor, I suspect it was from a JOM reader.

Cecil Turner

As I recall, the SSCI (or the additional views) report stated clearly that the CIA denied Wilson had seen any of the classified documents (that is, the memo or the forgeries). Is my memory failing yet again?

Not sure if this is what you remember (on page 44-45 of the main report), but it's pretty close:

The DO reports officer told Committee staff that he did not provide the former ambassador with any information about the source or details of the original reporting as it would have required sharing classified information and, noted that there were no “documents” circulating in the IC at the time of the former ambassador’s trip, only intelligence reports from [redacted] intelligence regarding an alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal. Meeting notes and other correspondence show that details of the reporting were discussed at the February 19,2002 meeting, but none of the meeting participants recall telling the former ambassador the source of the report [redacted]

Patrick R. Sullivan

J Mann,

I read Vanity Fair to say the breakfast was the Kristofs and Joe, but Kristof met Valerie the day before:

' In early May, Wilson and Plame attended a conference sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, at which Wilson spoke about Iraq; one of the other panelists was the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof.'

topsecretk9

In other news I received some hate mail today and have reported it to gmail as that was its source. A the other stuff is filtered thru my editor, I suspect it was from a JOM reader.

Was it generic lunacy or personal?

topsecretk9

Does Kristof really even have to have a one on one with Valerie...can't Wilson reveal all the juiciness to Kristof ala Valerie..."Look man, my wife was tasked with setting up the trip and was present at the debriefing"...or some such

Jeff

Cecil - That's a great catch of the discussion of names in the cable disseminated by the embassy in Niger on February 18, 2002. It's significant for two reasons: it makes clear that the report that came in in February 2002 that was said to be verbatim text of what eventually turned out to be the forged documents included the names of relevant Niger officials; and it makes clear that there was special focus on the question of those names the day before Wilson goes into his meeting to discuss the Niger business at the CIA. As the apparent accuracy of the GON names in the report was the basis of the embassy's judgment that it contained enough detail to warrant a hard, close look, how much of a stretch is it to imagine that when Wilson -- who is well versed in all that stuff -- comes in to talk with the CIA, they would have talked about the names that should have been on what documents produced when. (And by the way, I've always understood Wilson's comments about the names and dates being wrong to mean that the names and dates didn't match up, not that Wilson noticed that what should have been a Wednesday was dated as Friday or whatever.)

As for the question of what Wilson saw, the issue of documents as floated by the SSCI (following Tenet's July 11 2003 statement) is a red herring. There were no documents. Well, right, the actual documents didn't show up until October 2002. But the February 2002 report contained verbatim text of those very same documents. So the fact of documents or not means nothing in and of itself. Second, Wilson very well may not have seen the report's verbatim text, but he heard all about it at his February 19, 2002 meeting. Finally, as for Italy, my strong suspicion is that someone at the February 19 meeting told Wilson the reporting came via the Italians, but then, unsure of whether that was kosher, or sure it was not, didn't take responsibility for doing so when talking with the SSCI.

Reg Jones

clarice:

Reg, in an article for UVA (Macsmind has it up) he said it was to persuade the old leader of Niger to leave the country briefly and let the newly elected head to run the place.

So why does Wilson say this:

“…My bona fides justifying the invitation to the [CIA] meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger [in 1999] to look at other uranium related questions…” [Wilson,7/19/04, letter to SSCI]

http://www.alternet.org/stories/19271

Are we ssuming post-coup uranium security was the issue here?


Gary Maxwell

Maybe Joe Wilson was, you know, Lying? As large a stretch as that is and tough to believe I know.

Joe Solters

How could Valerie Plame have 'sat in' a breakfast with her husband and a reporter (Kristof) when the discussion involved secret, classified material without violating basic laws, rules and regulations regarding CIA employee conduct? There's no wiggle room here. If her attendence during these dicussions is a fact, the CIA, or others responsible for protecting classified data need to get involved, now.

Jeff

Reg and Gary - Wilson had made multiple earlier trips to Niger, detailed in his book, though some of them were not at the request of the CIA. In a surprise move, mac may not have done his homework and may be, um, confused. Gary, I wonder whether you would believe that Wilson was, you know, not lying.

Jeff

From the comments here, I'm starting to think that righties are going more hilariously nuts over the fact that the Wilsons are not at all implicated in any legal wrongdoing than lefties are over the non-indictment of Rove.

Gary Maxwell

Jeff

Honestly No. you know why? Well cuz the guy has lied repeatedly. Now if I had no reason to first think of him as a liar, then I would think of him as not lying. Your grandmother told you how conduct yourself so that your reputation is intact. Mine did. I am sure his did too. He just ignored it cuz no one would listen to his boring little tale without the inbellishments.

pollyusa

Cecil,

The SSCI would seem to want to have it both ways which is understandable since it was written by staffers from both parties.

The SSCI has the "verbatum text" of the accord in a second intelligence report dated 2/05/02.

The second report provided more details about the previously reported Iraq-Niger uranium agreement and provided what was said to be "verbatim text" of the accord.
SSCI

This report was clearly discussed in detail at the 2/02 meeting attended by Wilson.

The INR analyst's notes also indicate that specific details of the classified report on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal were discussed at the meeting,
SSCI

Did Wilson see the report, probably not. Did Wilson have detailed knowledge of the report, clearly yes.

Lastly, the main conclusion drawn in your quote from the SSCI page 47 is that Wilson did not know the source of the report. I take that to mean that Wilson didn't know the foriegn intelligence agency, Italy.

The quote you provide again states that "details of the reporting were discussed at the February 19,2002 meeting".

Wilson could have knowledge of the documents without having seen them.

clarice

If Wilson who no longer has a clearance saw a classified report, I'd like to know why? In fact I have so many questions about this Gambit, I've called for a Congressional hearing. Since Fitz hasn't cleared the air, maybe someone else can.

Do you suppose Goss would object?

Think Rockefeller would show up for them?

Fresh Air

Tibor--

The "crazy report" in question was the intel from the Brits, I believe, not the Italian report in French.

Fresh Air

Anonymous Liberal--

The fact that Wilson hasn't hired a criminal attorney is not dispositive that he wasn't the source for Valerie "Super-Double-Secret-Agent" Plame's identity.

Frankly, I don't really care who the source was given that no crime was committed and that Joe Wilson is one of the most hubristic figures to come on the American scene since Huey Long died--a man who deliberately used the intelligence laws of this country to coyly shield his lies from rebuttal, like a terrorist firing at our troops from a mosque.

Well, we all know that mosques lose their protective status when they are used as offensive platforms, don't we?

clarice

The Italian report didn't hit the CIA until 8 months after the Wilson Mission.

SteveMG

Jeff:
I, and perhaps others, may have been willing to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt re some of the "inconsistencies" in his statements. Although let's face it, any inconsistency expressed by the W.H. is immediately seized upon by folks on your side as evidence of duplicity.

That's fair, and I recognize the difference between a government official saying, er . . . let's say questionable things versus a private citizen expressing similar words.

However, the fact that he has openly associated himself with some of the most far left, anti-semitic, anti-American groups in the country, groups that think Bush or the Mossad engineered 9/11, severely calls into question his motives.

Why has he aligned himself with these groups? Pretty bad set of characters he's friendly with.

Not engaging in guilt by association. I'm practicing suspicion by association. That may not be fair but he's the one miring in the mud.

BTW, why won't one of your guys pull a Sister Souljah moment? The first Democrat to disassociate himself from the fringes that are slowly taking over the party will probably enrage the Kossacks or those supporters of the charming Atrios; but he (or she) will pick up a lot of moderate voters who are turning their backs on Bush and the Republicans but not looking to shack up with the Democrats.

SMG

Sue

Fresh Air,

I like that analogy.

pollyusa

The Italian report didn't hit the CIA until 8 months after the Wilson Mission.

Reports from the Italians regarding uranimun from Niger first were received by US intelligence services on 10/15/01. There was another report issued on 2/05/02 by the CIA DO that according to the SSCI was "verbatim text" of the accord.

The actual accord documents arrived in the US in September 02, but the US intelligence services had the text of the accord by Febuary 02.

pollyusa

Jeff

From now on I will wait to respond, we are clearly on the same track and you are doing a better job of it, well said.

Josef Bidding

Fascinating so many are still putting in overtime to resurrect Wilson's credibility while the subject of this thread appears to be that of Kristof's.

I guess Kristof invited it with his snotty attempt to deflect his mistakes, but the exhaustive reprisals and attempts at clairvoyance of what Wilson may or may not been told or seen at a meeting attended by no poster here is odd.

Furthermore, Wilson himself put Kristof's (and Pincus) reporting in doubt, not once but twice, when he allowed that he misspoke and then was misquoted. I am pretty sure that means Wilson does not get a do over, so the tireless efforts to dispute what a report said but maybe should have said, are frankly weird.

Anonymous Liberal

Fresh Air,
Not sure what you're talking about. Your analogy seems more applicable to the White House's use of intelligence leading up to the war than anything Wilson has done.

As for Wilson, I mentioned the fact that he did not have counsel to try to put to rest the ridiculous talking point that he is somehow under investigation for wrongdoing. Fitzgerald has spent a long time investigating this matter. I think that if Wilson was running around blowing his own wife's cover, Fitzgerald might have discovered that fact. My point is that Wilson's hubris is irrelevant to the investigation. Even if everything Wilson ever said was a lie, it's hard to see how that would be legally significant.

I don't have any problem with people criticizing Wilson. I just find it amusing that so many folks on the Right are carefully parsing every word that comes out of Wilson's mouth while at the same bending over backwards to explain away the White House's behavior in this affair. It's strange to be hyperventilating over the alleged misstatements of an obscure ambassador while at the same time being utterly unconcerned about perjury, obstruction of justice, and obvious public lies by the administration about the involvement Rove and Libby in this affair.

If you hate lying so much, at least be consistent in your criticism. I concede that there has been a lot of selective outrage on the Left as well, and unfortunately, far too many lefties have refused to critically examine some of Wilson's more dubious claims. That said, Wilson is relative nobody. He's not in a high position of power, and he's not the subject of a federal investigation. He's a side issue at best.

RKF

What I think actually occurred.

Though Wilson had not seen the documents personally, State had them. There is conflict as to whether anyone in CPD at CIA ever did in that timeframe, but it appears that they at least had text transcripts (not just summaries, though that term is used), and the text transcripts from Italian intel are what prompted Cheney's request to his briefer that the matter be reviewed further.

What is likely is that Valerie Wilson had already told Joe that they suspected the documents were forgeries, but that he was not supposed to know that. Text transcrits would include date and signatory, and that is what led the IAEA to immediately conclude it was forgery. At his February 2002 debriefing, the CIA and/or the State debriefer (there were at least two there) would have understandably referenced those transcripts as they asked him about his specific findings. He likely reported that he found the story impossible and the docs therefore were a hoax, though he had not seen them. That Tenet says there was no refernce to the transcrippts in the debriefings makes that less likely, though still possible.

He later overstates his role to Kristof, but it is likely that he "debunked" the documents within the meaning set forth above, during that debriefing. The debriefers may have been holding and were certainly referring to text transcripts. He is likely afraid to now assert that his wife told him that the prior analysis of CPD is that they were forgeries (something that was likely possible just from the transcripts given how clumsy the forgeries were). So he claims to have figured it out to protect her, as her disclosure of that to him may have been technically illegal.

Kristof's column would still need correction, albeit a more minor one, and Joe Wilson is still a bloviating grandstander, but the column was closer to truthful than imagined

JBS

Polly are you claimaning that it was the position, official or otherwise, of the CIA in February 2002 the CIA had the Niger documents (or copies) and had concluded that they were forgeries? Do you have a link to such a position by the CIA?

StuckinCali

Jeff said:
"the SSCI report itself elsewhere states that Wilson did in fact discuss the intelligence report from February 2002 at his February 19, 2002 meeting, and, again I think elsewhere in the report, we learn that that Febrruary 2002 report contained what was understood to be verbatim text of what eventually turned out to be the forged documents."

Your lame attempts to deny that Wilson lied about his findings and the "forged documents" may convince the idiots over at Daily Kos but they aren't working here.

The SSCI report is very clear on this subject. In reference to the intelligence report that was discussed at the February 19th meeting, the SSCI report says that "details of the reporting were discussed at the February 19, 2002 meeting, but none of the particpants recall telling the former ambassador the source of the report." The SSCI Report also says about that same report, "In fact, the intelligence report made no mention of the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal or signatures that should have appeared on any documentation of such a deal. The only mention of Iraq in the report pertained to the meeting between the Iraqi delegation and former Prime Minister Mayaki."

What don't you get about that. While some "details" were discussed with Wilson, they did not include information regarding the source of the information(i.e. the documents), the signatures on the documents or anything else relating to the documents.

Your unsubstantiated inferences about what he knew before the meeting or that he might have realized they were the wrong names and dates later on are ridiculous. The SSCI Committee confronted Wilson with his unattributed statements that were published by Kristoff and Pincus (e.g. Pincus, WaPo 6/12/03 "among the envoy's conclusions was that he documents may have been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.'") The Committee staff asked Wilson how he could have known the names and dates were wrong "when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports." He didn't respond by saying "yes I did. That's false. I knew the names and dates that were in those reports and here is how I knew..." He lamely explained that he "may have 'misspoken'".

Wilson lied to these reporters who took the ball and ran with it and who still refuse to admit that their reports were wrong. Apparently things went down differently in liberal fantasyland but, in reality, Wilson never debunked anything, "the government" didn't ask him to go on his trip, he lied when he said that Plame "had absolutely nothing to do with" him going to Niger, Cheney was never told about the results of his trip, his trip didn't refute Bush's "16 words", his wife's life has never been in danger, she wasn't "covert", etc., etc.

And, finally, those who claim that conservatives are focusing on Wilson to avoid more substantive allegations against Bush are full of it. Liberals chose Wilson as one of their Bush hating standard bearers. Now liberals have to live with the harm he has caused to all liberals' credibility. The MSM refuses to correct their false reports of his lies and Wilson hasn't been asked to return his "truth teller" award. When that starts to happen, then Wilson will cease to be relevant.


[C'mon, I'm counting on the righties to raise the tone here... TM]

boris

unstick tags!!!

MJW

Hopefully, this will put a new slant on things. Please use Preview if you use tags!

boris
those who claim that conservatives are focusing on Wilson to avoid more substantive allegations against Bush are full of it. Liberals chose Wilson as one of their Bush hating standard bearers. Now liberals have to live with the harm he has caused to all liberals' credibility. The MSM refuses to correct their false reports of his lies and Wilson hasn't been asked to return his "truth teller" award. When that starts to happen, then Wilson will cease to be relevant
You can say that again!
MJW

If I'd spent more time typing and less time trying to come up with a lame quip, I would have beat Boris. Oh well, story of my life, always a post late and an end-tag short.

clarice

Reg, if you can assume anything he asys is truthful, his UVA trip was a diplomatic type mission (though why DoS didn't pick him as opposed to the CIA is baffling). This trip was something else--ostensibly to obtain some information about Iraq's uranium purchase attempts. Why "ostensibly"? Because the CIA asked the questions which were not well-designed to elicit such information, he couldn't and didn't ask current officials, and, in essence, he repeated the efforts of General Fulford.

Cecil Turner

Did Wilson have detailed knowledge of the report, clearly yes.

Looks to me like you're overreaching on that one. "Specific details" of the report were discussed. But that doesn't mean all of the details, nor that the report was discussed in detail. The latter statement is not a direct contradiction . . . if both are correct, it means some details from the report were discussed. In any event, his contention, via Kristof, that names/dates were wrong is dubious at best from a description at a meeting (especially since we now know one of the tipoffs was a flaky signature). The contention that he somehow figured it out from the analysts also doesn't make sense, since their failure to check them would then be totally inexplicable (instead of just convincing evidence of incompetence).

But the most glaring discrepancy was in Wilson's report, which according to Kristof:

In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.
Sounds pretty unequivocal to me, and not even Wilson claims that bit is true.

vnjagvet

From the looks of Libby's defense team, it looks like things will be interesting. It is not a plea bargaining team.

They are headed by Ted Wells, a prominent New York democratic white collar defense attorney successfully defended Mike Espey (Clinton's Agriculture Secretary and Ray Donovan (Reagan's Labor Secretary) after indictment by special prosecutors for various felonies, and Bill Jeffress, a D.C. white collar defense attorney who specializes in perjury and other crimes of alleged dishonesty.

Both Wells and Jeffress are partners in large national firms, Paul Weiss and Baker and Botts respectively. Plenty of horsepower for poring minutely through columns, articles, tv shows, blogs, classified documents, and following up any leads they might produce.

Through the end of trial, Fitzgerald and crew will not be doing much work in their "day jobs".

Should be fun.

Anonymous Liberal

"those who claim that conservatives are focusing on Wilson to avoid more substantive allegations against Bush are full of it. Liberals chose Wilson as one of their Bush hating standard bearers. Now liberals have to live with the harm he has caused to all liberals' credibility."

I'm sorry, but that's truly ridiculous. The world isn't a game of liberals vs. conservatives. We're not bound by everything that other people on our "team" have said (and given some of the insanity that has come from conservatives during this mess, you should be very thankful for that, Boris).

I've never once held Joe Wilson out to be a hero or some bastion of truth-telling, so I really don't see what your point is. My point was that many (though not all) conservatives seem to have lost perspective in this affair. They're obsessed with the veracity of the ex-ambassor to Gabon, and utterly unconcerned with the veracity of those occupying the White House. The reason I like this blog so much is that, while I disagree with Tom about a great many things, I can tell that he is above-all interested in discovering the truth. All I'm saying, Boris, is that if you're going to parse every word that comes out of Joe Wilson's mouth, at least be willing to turn your truth-ray on the White House once in while as well.

dick

One thing that bothers me about all this is that Wilson is supposedly briefed in Feb that the doc is probably false and the names are wrong in the opinion of the analysts. Wilson then goes to Niger and reports back that Iraq did not purchase yellowcake from Niger. The CIA does not think this, which supposedly proved the opinions of the analysts, was important enough to pass on to the VP who was supposedly the one who asked for the proof to be gotten in the first place. something about that smells to high heaven. If the CIA now had proof that the docs were faked and the guy that was sent to Niger as a result of a request from the VP, then the least the CIA should have done was pass this info back to the VP. That they did not seems really wrong to my way of thinking. They apparently did not think that the VP needed to be told anything in response to his question. That seems as though they were not acting for the administration at all and that is their function. They should be there to serve the country and the administration and to furnish the administration with the latest and best intel they can drum up, yet here they are not even passing back to the VP the answer to his initial question.

JohnH

So if Kristoff was on a panel with Wilson and Valerie was there, and this was in the time frame of Wilson strenuously working to get out his message that the Iraq nuclear connection was bunk, it is inconceivable to me (but I am sure not to some others here) that Valerie's employment and expertise would not have become known to Kristoff. As in Wilson saying "Well, Valerie here is with the Agency and in fact has been specializing in WMDs for years. She fell out of her chair laughing (ROFL) when the White House started spinning this yellowcake BS."

But this seems like the pivotal moment of the whole drama. If Kristoff was told where she worked at that time, then she outed herself.

I want to hear from the Bush-haters how a person like Joe Wilson could be strutting his stuff to Kristoff, another Bush-hater, with Valerie standing there, and not let it be known who she was.

pollyusa

JBS

CIA had the Niger documents (or copies)and had concluded that they were forgeries?

The SSCI report makes the claim that the CIA did have the "'verbatum text' of the accord" by 2/5/02. You can find that section of the report here.

The views of the various intelligence agencys which vary considerably can also be found in the SSCI report. Here is the link to the SSCI report.


RFK

That Tenet says there was no refernce to the transcrippts in the debriefings makes that less likely, though still possible

The debriefing that Tenet referred to is Wilson's debriefing after his trip, not the meeting that occured before the Wilson trip.

Agricola

Did Kristof ever apologize for smearing Steven Hatfield as a white supremacist anthrax terrorist? His source for that story was apparently as reliable as Joe Wilson.

effinayright

Mark Steyn summed up ambassador Wilson in a column written during the run-up to the last election:

"An ambassador, in Sir Henry Wootton's famous dictum, is a good man sent abroad to lie for his country. This ambassador came home to lie to his. And the Dems and the media helped him do it."

---The Chicago Sun-Times, July 18th 2004

Fresh Air

Anon Liberal--

I'll grant you that Joe WIlson is a side issue, as is his wife and the whole bloody investigation, frankly. As for the White House, one man was indicted, and if he did what is alleged he should probably do a little jail time--if only for being so criminally stupid. If there are other transgressions, kindly list them so we may all be so enlightened.

As to Joe Wilson: If he had just shut the eff up after he was exposed for his deliberate falsehoods I would lay off him. I really don't care about Joe Wilson; I just want him to go away, like, say, Richard Clark--the last partisan liar exposed trying to do in the administration.

What conservatives are pissed about is that this man, who has the temerity to call himself a truth-teller and to title his book The Politics of Truth is still getting away with telling lies in the media. Almost no one is calling him on it. It may feel good to you lefties now, but the law of unintended consequences will bite hard in the future. Bet on it. And when the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and the rest have flushed what tiny bit is left of their credibility trying to shield the likes of Joe Wilson then you'll understand why fairness is more important that partisanship when it comes to the press.

topsecretk9

Anon--
I agree with portions of your post, but that you have not held Wilson up a bastion of truth, while honest is not indicative of the left. In fact, national Democrats never call out any bad behavior, dishonesty or bad motives within the party. They’re cloaked in this bizarre defense of freedom of speech, celebrated and defended to a degree that is baffling, And to my mind, results in their marginalizing themselves at the ballot box.

The strangest part of this whole affair is the while the administration has proclaimed that they were not solely relying on this one piece of the intelligence puzzle, they also acknowledged that any reliance on this piece was a mistake,

Imagine that. This is perceived too many on the right as an entirely understandable given the egregiously wrong intelligence assessments on the part intelligence community for many years, The left however, took this as a rare admission proving intelligence manipulation by the evil "little known" cabal comprised of the little known VP and little known Sec. Of Defense and evil Israel plants. Most in this country needed little in the way of fresh Nigerian intelligence as a justification to rid the world of Saddam. Routinely firing on US Servicemen patrolling the no-fly zone was plenty grounds for war for me.

Incidentally, this little myth is perpetuated by Wilson with his relentless pursuit of airtime and only a scant few on the left have stepped up to call (http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh072004.shtml) Wilson out and wave off the apologists. In other words, if the subject were to change from Wilson that would probably happen if he put his money where his mouth is and engage in his national pleas for privacy.


kim

Joe! Joe! Joe!

and al.
==============================

mary mapes

Well, here we go....Wilson---surprise, shock---is yet again on national television ----HE JUST WANTS HIS FAMILIES PRIVACY!

I would have been happy, the day after my article appeared, when the White House told The Washington Post that the 16 words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address, I would have been happy to disappear and allow others to take on that particular battle.

So the extent to which indictments have been brought, all Americans should feel somewhat vindicated.

WILSON: At the time that I was briefed, before I was asked to take this trip, the documents were not in the hands of the U.S. government, to the best of my knowledge. I was briefed that an officer, a U.S. officer, had either seen the documents or had been briefed on their existence. And my briefing was based upon the transcript or his report about the existence of those documents.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9915036/

MayBee

SMG:
"Although let's face it, any inconsistency expressed by the W.H. is immediately seized upon by folks on your side as evidence of duplicity."

And by folks in the media. Now, Wilson obviously doesn't have much power. But the media has enormous power. As Bill Keller said, "Everything you know, you know through the MSM".

That's why it bothers me to see this prickly correction by Kristoff. What he tells us is what we will know, until he tells us otherwise or someone else comes along to tell us. Yet he blames critics for questioning him. He corrects begrudingly and incompletely. We come away chastened and yet without the power of information.

The press says they hate it about Bush that (and imply Bush can't be trusted because) he won't accept blame, or he blames his critics. And that he won't correct misinformation or misstatements. And that he is in a bubble in which he can't be reached by the common person.

How did Nick Kristoff act any differently in this situation?
Why does the press not realize they do the same thing they hate politicians for doing, and when they do it, it affects us all just as much?

JBS

Poly I take your whole point to be that maybe Joe wasn't really lying about debunking the forged documents when he spoke to Kristof (names were wrong, dates were wrong etc.) because in his briefing before going to Niger, the CIA told him about about the documents and their conclusion that they were faked/forged and when he talked to Kristof later he just became confused and thought he was the one who did the debunking which would not be surprising given Joe's rather large opinion of himself. Or maybe you're saying that Joe was shown the "verbatum text", and while the CIA was confused about them, Joe immediately did an on the spot debunking of them and then went over to Niger to merely confirm what he had immediately had known and of course because the mint tea was good.

But the links you pointed me to in the SSCI report don't help you at all. In the link referring to the 2/5/02 intel, which references the "verbatum agreement" the CIAs opinion was that this increased the liklihood of there being a deal due to the greater speficicity in the documents. The SSCI report notes there was still a lot of doubt but this is mainly because of the doubt that Niger would actually go through with such a sale given the sanctions that were in place. There are also questions about the source of the docs the CIA's DO reporst back that the source was "very credible." There is nothing in February 2002 time frame indicating that the CIA had concluded that the documents were fake. In other words the CIA's position was that even if there was an agreement it was unlikley to have been carried out.

Here's what the conclusion of WINPAC was: "information on the alleged uranium contract between Iraq and Niger comes exclusively from a foreign government service report that lacks crucial details, and we are working to clarify the information and to determine whether it can be corroborated." The piece discussed the details of the DO intelligence report and indicated that "some of the information in the report contradicts reporting from the U.S. Embassy in Niamey. U.S. diplomats say the French Government-led consortium that operates Niger's two uranium mines maintains complete control over uranium mining and yellowcake production."

As you can see the "verbatum text" is described as coming from a foreign source and lacking crucial details. There is nothing indicating that the CIA had concluded the "verbatum text of the accord" was forged. The determination that docs were forgeries is not untim many months later.

The botom line is that there was no indication that Joe could have known the Niger docs were forged based on his pre-Niger briefing. Oh, and yes Joe still is a liar.

DogtownGuy

•At the time that I was briefed, before I was asked to take this trip, the documents were not in the hands of the U.S. government, to the best of my knowledge. I was briefed that an officer, a U.S. officer, had either seen the documents or had been briefed on their existence. And my briefing was based upon the transcript or his report about the existence of those documents.

•So the extent to which indictments have been brought, all Americans should feel somewhat vindicated.

Well in reading through some of the posts here, it seems some have eerie prescience

M. Simon

This is all cover for the fact that Libya was running the Iraqi nuke program.

If we were looking for it in Iraq we were looking in the wrong place.

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