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July 10, 2004



The WH's initial public response to this remains inexplicable and indefensible. The SOTU reference was not neccessarily touched in any way by Wilson's trip or views -- for several reasons: 1) other uranium producers in "Africa" -- Niger not in SOTU 2) Wilson had only partial view of one one part of the puzzle 3) Brits quickly reaffirmed their confidence in their assessment and specifically noted it took no account of the documents in question.

Instead of pointing this out -- patiently and with a sledge-hammer, as is needed with today's press corps -- the WH puts on a bizarre finger-pointing display between CIA and NSC, and then someone does the Plame thing? And don't forget this was the real beginning of the "lies" and "exaggeration" absurdity that now, a year later, is part of the degraded and insane "mainstream".

Wilson, while slimey and weird on a personal level is, sadly, a pretty good example of so many veteran US diplomats and analysts of MidEast affairs -- utterly and bizarrely obsessed with maintaining the region's noxious status quo and outdated American policies there. I still remember his TV comment a week into the war that it was hard to tell whether Iraqis hated us or Saddam more. That about summed up both his substantive understanding and attitude.


I am firmly in no-man's land on the 16 Words question. Part of the problem is, they were very clearly NOT a lie - the phrasing about "the British have learned" was Clintonian - strictly true, but misleading. When confronted with obvious follow-up questions - OK, the Brits have learned it, have we been able to verify it? Have we reviewed their evidence? Do our experts agree with their experts? - the Admin answers were, inevitably, weak. The fact is, for various reasons we had not verified it, and the Brits had not shared intel with us.

I am left in agreement with Ari Fleischer's final defense - the 16 Words were true, and some in the Admin may have belived their substance, but it was too light to put in the SOTU the wau they did. And if they had put it in with suitable caveats, the impact would have been diluted.

The Kid

Icecold should recall that Wilson is a retired civil servant working for a Saudi-funded think tank with a consulting business on trade in Africa and contributes to Democratic causes. Perhaps his wife didn’t take any interest in his business prospects and may have just wanted him out of the house for a bit, but she certainly was the one who recommended that he go to Niger.

Josh Marshall can rest easy, we don’t have to rely on the usually reliable Ms. Schmidt. If you have the bandwidth or the time you too can download the 24 MB report and read this paragraph on page 40:
On February 19, 2002, CPD hosted a meeting with the former ambassador, intelligence analysts from both the CIA and INR, and several individuals from the DO’s Africa and CPD divisions. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the merits of the former ambassador traveling to Niger. An INR analyst’s notes indicated that the meeting was “apparently convened by the [former ambassador’s] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue.” The former ambassador’s wife told Committee staff that she only attended the meeting to introduce her husband and left after about three minutes.

At the bottom of page 44, the report reads:
When the former ambassador spoke to Committee staff, his description of his findings differed from the DO intelligence report and his account of information provided to him by the CIA differed from the CIA officials’ accounts in some respects. First, the former ambassador described his findings to Committee staff as more directly related to Iraq and, specifically, as refuting both the possibility that Niger could have sold uranium to Iraq and that Iraq approached Niger to purchase uranium. The intelligence report described how the structure of Niger’s uranium mines would make it difficult, if not impossible, for Niger to sell uranium to rouge nations, and noted that Nigerien officials denied knowledge of any deals to ell uranium to any rouge states, but did not refute the possibility that Iraq had approached Niger to purchase uranium. Second, the former ambassador said that he discussed with his CIA contacts which names and signatures should have appeared on any documentation of a legitimate uranium transaction. 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. Third, the former ambassador noted that his CIA contacts told him there were documents pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction and that the source of the information was the XXXX intelligence service. 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 XXX intelligence regarding an alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal. Meeting notes and other correspondence show that detail 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 XXXXX.

The next paragraph reads as follows:
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 that the documents were “forged.” He also said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct and may have thought he had seen the names himself. The former ambassador reiterated that he had been able to collect the names of the government officials which should have been on the documents.

The report goes on to say that the operations folks graded Wilson’s report as “good,” which is a 3 on their 1-5 scale. DIA and CIA analysts were not surprised to find Nigerien denial of a uranium deal, but did “find it interesting that the former Nigerien Prime Minister said an Iraqi delegation had visited Niger for what he believed was to discuss uranium sales.” (page 46) And on page 47 the reports says there were not real inconsistencies with names or dates in the foreign government report as Wilson told the WaPo.

Marshall and crew can try to dismiss the WaPo, but it does look like Susan Schmidt did a fine job of extracting the nuggets. Ambassador Wilson committed his most serious error when he misled that newspaper. I don’t think his spouse will get any more puff pieces in the Style section.


I mourn today for the character of Susan Schmidt, after what will soon be a brutal assassination by a firing squad of lefty bloggers...


Let me just add my kudos to the Minuteman, as the Plame Name Blame Game was the reason for my first visit to this blog. And I continue checking in. Your analysis of the story struck me as the most sober, and the follow up has been relentless. The charges were/are serious, and it began the feeding frenzy, now universally accepted, that the Administration misled and/or lied to the public. It has even been a central theme of the Kerry kampaign. Yet from the WaPo article, and the exerpts posted by The Kid above, the reality is that Joe Wilson did the lieing and misleading. What are the chances that the media spends even half the time they did to correct the impression regarding who did the misleading?

The Kid

If TM has quit running laps, he might take a look at this too: http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2003/10/vpw_we_arm_wres_1.html

We are now back to Novak, his use of the word "operative," and his motivations. Novak was responding to Wilson’s WaPo opinion piece challenging Bush’s use of the sixteen words. The committee report now informs us that Wilson was also the source for a WaPo news article Washington Post article (“CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data: Bush Used Report of Uranium Bid,” June 12, 2003). We also know that Wilson may have “misspoken” in the op-ed and to the reporter.

Here’s the hoot, and it shows how cynical Wilson is.
Wilson must have known that nobody at the CIA could talk about any of this to the press, that the reporters he spoke to would protect his identity as the source, and that Novak would not disclose the identities of his sources. In fact the only one who was free to speak was Wilson; we know this because the committee report discloses that the CIA did not require Wilson to sign a non-disclosure agreement. With his 2/2002 contribution to HILLPAC, 5/2003 contribution to the Kerry campaign, and several contributions to other Democrat candidates in between, Wilson’s partisans leanings were a matter of record. It’s now clear that his op-ed and contacts with reports were politically motivated, something that many suspected last fall. Thanks to a Senate Intelligence Committee report Wilson did not expect, we now know for a fact that he’s a cynic, a misspeaker, and a Democrat.

Er, is that redundant?


Thanks very much, gents. And I am loving those excerpts, Kid - whay version of Acrobat or Adobe are you using? I have 6.01 and all I get is an image option, but no text option.

And the No Confidentiality agreement is a key detail. His wife being in a meeting (briefly, p 50 of .pdf) to introduce him also contradicts things he told Josh Marshall:

Now, I think I mentioned to you earlier the context in which my trip was initially discussed, and I will tell you that at the meetings it was discussed, and at the meeting where it was proposed that I go out there, there was nobody at that meeting that I knew. There were a couple of people who came up and introduced themselves and said to me that they had been at other briefings I had given in the past on other issues, but I could not name any of them. I couldn't tell you who they are today--would pass them on the streets without recognizing them. So that's really--the decision-making process involved nobody that I knew.

Maybe she introduced him before he entered the room.

But my fave detail so far - at one point the report warns of concerns that Niger might sell uranium to *rouge* nations - ahh, the perfidious French.

Alex Parker

Hey, guess who's coming (briefly) out of retirement?

I've made a brief quibble with one of the report's conclusions:

Just because Wilson hadn't seen the documents didn't mean he didn't know what was on them. All he told the Washington Post is that he knew the dates and names on them were wrong. He has never claimed to have seen them--in fact, he has always denied it. But he did claim to have been briefed on them, which was based on the initial report from the Italian intel agency, which was likely based on the documents themselves.

So, unless he's lying about that, he would have known the dates and names on the letters.


Alex, welcome back. I just closed out of the .pdf file (which seems to crash out everything else I open), but it was (IIRC) p. 55 of the .pdf file (p 45 Dead Tree).

The gist - the staff talked with Wilson, who said that he discussed names and dates with the CIA; however, the staff also talked to the CIA folks at the meeting, none of whom remembered briefing Wilson on names and dates (and they pointed out that the docs were not in their possession yet, only summaries from the foreign service).

Presumably puzzled, the staff also asked Wilson about the WaPo story where he claimed to have described names and dates to the CIA. He told the staff that perhaps he misspoke, that perhaps he misremembered the meeting, and perhaps his memory was confusing his report with the March 2003 IAEA report of the forgeries.

Now, maybe he is the only person telling the truth about the meeting, but decided not to stick with his story when asked about the WaPo. Or maybe he was told by someone else about the forgeries, but not at the meeting. But from what I see in the report, it looks bad.

My guess - in the spring of 2003, the forgeries were in the news and Wilson wanted to be. Maybe he let people form their own (wrong conclusions) and didn't correct them. For example,

Wilson: "I told them what signatures should be on the documents".

Reporter: "Gee, were those the signatures that were there".

Wilson: "Well, you know the rest from the IAEA report."

Reporter: "Wow, you debunked the forgeries and are a national hero!"

Wilson: (Smiles)

That said, the Senate says thatthe CIA side of the Wilson report said nothing about appropriate dates and signatures - perhaps he went on at length in his verbal presentation about what proper documentation ought to look like, and they didn't think it was relevant (at that point) since they didn't have any documents to look at.

Confusing. But the WaPo denoument is a lot less ambiguous.


Ahh, Findlaw has subdivided the big report! Here is the Niger section. Wilson's chat with the Senate staff is on Dead tree pages 44/45, which translates to .pdf pages 9/10 of 48)

The Kid

TM -
The version of Adobe is immaterial - the report and its components were scanned as images. I tried to run it through OCR, but got so many errors the results looked like Bulgarian.
So I justed typed the extracts I used.


Now we know that Joe Wilson is a liar, the next question is what did Iraq plan to do with the uranium?


Kid, you're the man! (or are you John Edwards?)

And "HA", I appreciate the drollery, but just because Joe lied about some things, it doesn't follow that he was wrong about everything - the Senate report is quite critical of the fact that, as we speak, the CIA has still never finalized an assessment of what Iraq might have been up to with uranium procurement.

I guess the Butler report is the Next Big Thing on that front.

Paul Zrimsek

Just because Wilson hadn't seen the documents didn't mean he didn't know what was on them.

A good quibble! However, going back through Tom's archives I find this:

AMB. WILSON: I can�t answer that except I would fully suspect that if there was any importance attached to the documentation that there would have been a serious effort to get ahold of it. When I came back from Niger, and debriefed, I had not, of course, seen the documents, but one of the points that I made was if these documents did not contain certain signatures�specifically, the signature of the Minister of Energy and mine and the prime minister�then they could not be authentic. [emphasis added].

So whatever Wilson may have been told about the contents of the unseen-by-himself-or-the-CIA documents, it pretty clearly didn't include whose signatures were on them.


The Kid and Tom and others here are doing/have done admirable detailed work on this. Being indolent or distracted myself, my reaction to this hasn't changed from the outset -- greately reinforced by little-noted SIS statements last summer -- and stands today.

Stipulate the good intentions and veracity of Wilson on every front. Doesn't make a difference. He had a take on the Niger situation -- an overt one, valuable but far from the whole picture. The Sixteen Words referred to Africa, and there are other current or potential African uranium suppliers (Tenet even said, I believe, but I can't find the link -- that the foreign intel service assessments on Africa/uranium concerned two countries other than Niger). Wilson was simply in no position to even touch the Sixteen Words.

When SIS sources stated that they stood by their assessment, and that the allegedly bogus documents played no role in that assessment, and when two parliamentary committees (I think) investigating collateral matters reviewed the evidence and called the assessment reasonable, Wilson's claims went from immaterial to minor footnote status.

But thanks to an utterly dysfunctional, tendentious, and intellectually inadequate media -- and, again, an inexplicably clumsy WH -- Wilson's immaterial and then nearly irrelevant claims caused an uproar, and as noted above, were the launching point for the whole bizarre and baseless attacks on the administration's honesty or credibility.

Liar or not, weird self-promoter or not, classless or not -- and clearly he is all these things -- and whatever he told the WaPo, his original claims never met a minimal standard of relevance and substance. And that was mostly clear the day his op-ed appeared, and confirmed within weeks.


Wilson advanced the claim that Saddam didn't... when in fact Wilson knew he did...

Doesn't that make Wilson a double-agent by action even if his clownish activities were only for personal and partisan gain?

Where are the indictments against he and his CIA wife?


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