While our headline writer remains on strike, let me flag this important piece by Byron York:
Is Everything We Know About Joe Wilson’s Trip to Niger Wrong?
New evidence from the Libby trial — evidence Senate investigators never saw — could change the storyline.
Very briefly - why was Wilson asked to go to Niger? The "old" version is that the defense Intelligence Agency circulated a report on Feb 12, 2002 ruminating about Iraq, Niger, and uranium. The VP expressed an interest and wondered what the CIA thought; so did the State Dept and the Defense Dept.
With all this interest, the CIA felt behooved to organize a trip. Ms. Plame wrote a memo on Feb 12 suggesting her husband (Wilson apologists insist that this was written at the behest of her superiors; all agree that she had suggested Joe for a similar trip to Niger in 1999). This is all straight from the Senate Intel Committee report.
The wrinkle introduced by Mr. York is a new defense exhibit apparently not available to the Senate investigators - it is a memo from Dick Cheney's CIA briefer to the CIA noting the VP's interest and asking for their thoughts. And guess what? The note is dated Feb 13.
The CIA briefer meets with Cheney first thing in the morning and it is a fair guess that he does not wait a day to follow up. Consequently, by the time Cheney had been apprised of the new DIA report and expressed his interest in the CIA reaction, the CIA had already begun turning the wheels to send Joe to Niger.
So why did Wilson think he had been sent by the VP, or as a result of the VP's questions? One possibility is that he is a shameless, self-promoting liar. But another perfectly good explanation is that the CIA figured that a bit of name-dropping might help everyone get excited about the Wilson trip, so they told people that the VP was interested in the results (which was fair enough). Invoking the VP probably has more sway in Washington than invoking the interest of, for example, an Undersecretary of State, or so I would guess.
Meaning that Wilson was misinformed, but that Cheney's interest was not what initiated the Niger trip.
MORE: Folks who abhor "behested" will balk at "behooved". Behave.