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July 22, 2004



Wilson’s Reported Iraqi/Niger Meeting that “Was”, “Was Not”, and Now “Was”—Again! (updated ver. 2.0)

I believe Joe Wilson. The question is not “if” it’s “when” you believe him.

Case Study: Consider the alleged “meeting” between an Iraqi official and former Niger Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki in Algiers during the Organization of African Unity (OAU) conference in June 1999. Questions have arisen here and elsewhere about whether this meeting actually took place. So I decided to take a fresh look.

Has Wilson lied about this issue? I’ll be charitable and say probably not. But it’s a surprisingly close call when you look at the record. I suspect Wilson-- if asked-- would say it’s a minor issue that depends on what the meaning of the word “meeting” is. It’s possible that Wilson was inconsistent in what he thought constituted a “meeting” during the past two years. Is a meeting a formal “sit down” between official delegations or an informal meeting in a conference hallway between government officials? Is Wilson being unintentionally sloppy in his answers or was he being deceptive when he directly contradicts himself? I report; you decide.

Here’s a quick chronology (note: I’ve added that which is in brackets[ ]):

1. March 5, 2002 Wilson is Debriefed Just After Returning From Niger (SSCI, p.43-44)
Wilson tells the CIA according to their debriefing report that former Niger prime minister Mayaki met with the Iraqi Delegation in June 1999.

2. July 6, 2003: “What I Didn’t Find In Africa” Wilson’s NY Times Op/ed:
No mention of the previously alleged meeting in the NYT op/ed or in his first “Meet the Press” interview that same day.

3. July 11, 2003: DCI Tenet Releases a Statement on Niger Controversy/Wilson’s Trip:
First (?) public mention of the Iraqi desire to discuss “expanding commercial relations” with Niger in June 1999.

4. September 16, 2003: Talking Points Memo Interviews Joe Wilson (page 16-17)
Wilson says his interlocutor [Mayaki] “declined” to take the 1999 Iraqi meeting in question.

5. October 5, 2003: Wilson Appears on “Meet the Press”—Again! (MSNBC, transcript)
Wilson’s asked about Tenet’s July 11 statement. Wilson responds, “the meeting never took place..”

6. January, 2004: Wilson Speaks Again to His Source [Mayaki] (“The Politics of Truth” p.28)
Source [Mayaki] tells Wilson that “Baghdad Bob” was probably the Iraqi he [Mayaki] met at the OAU meeting in 1999.

7. May 2, 2004: Wilson Appears on “Meet the Press” Yet Again. (MSNBC, transcript)
Wilson: “That’s right…there was a meeting...between a senior Niger official and an Iraqi official”

8. July 7, 2004: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report Is Publicly Released
Report States: [Wilson] said that Mayaki did meet with the Iraqi delegation but never discussed what was meant by “expanding commercial relations." (Senate Intelligence report, page 44).

9. July 14, 2004: BBC Report “Ex-premier [Mayaki] denies Iraq link” *(See below)
BBC interviews Niger’s ex-prime minister Mayaki. The BBC reports that Ibrahim Mayaki said the following:
A) Iraq did not try to buy uranium
B) No Iraqi delegation went to Niger while he was foreign or prime minister.
C) Mayaki denies allegations in the Senate report that he admitted meeting a delegation from Iraq in 1999.
D) Mayaki now says he has no recollection of such a meeting [as described in the Senate Report], while he was in government from 1999-2001.

10. July 18, 2004: WaPo Ombudsman Response to Wilson’s Critique of the Post:
“But the [Senate] study concludes that Wilson's March 2002 report, which noted that the former prime minister of Niger said that in 1999 he was approached by a businessman insisting he meet with an Iraqi delegation (which he did not do)…” (Getler, WaPo, 7/18/2004)

11. July 21, 2004: “The meeting to which the senators and you are referring actually took place outside of Niger on the margins of an international organization meeting. And indeed, when a Niger businessman came to the prime minister [Mayaki] and said he wanted him to do him a favor and meet with this Iraqi delegation, the prime minister's initial reaction was, they'll probably want to talk about uranium. And therefore he granted them a courtesy call, and during the course of that courtesy call, the subject of uranium was not broached.” (Joe Wilson, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer”, 7/21/2004)

*Note: On item #9 the 7/14/2004 Mayaki Interview as Reported by the BBC:
Allegation A may be correct. Certainly “expanding commercial relations” has just enough plausible deniability to deny uranium as Iraq’s goal.
Allegation B is false. Iraq’s Vatican ambassador visited Niger on 2/8/1999 as an envoy of the then President of Iraq to Mr. Ibrahim Bare, the then President of Niger. At the time Mayaki was Niger’s Prime Minister. Allegation C is probably false. Is he hanging on the word “delegation” as opposed to meeting an Iraqi official in June 1999? If not, and he’s telling the truth then Wilson’s the liar. Allegation D is probably false and is certainly highly deceptive--or was Wilson highly deceptive?.Did Wilson make up his January 2004 conversation with Mayaki as he reports in his book? Simply stated, I trust Wilson under oath more than I trust a BBC report of a former Nigerian official not under oath.


If the previous post is an example of Joe “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” Wilson… what do we call the following?

1. “….Ambassador Owens –Kirkpatrick asked him NOT TO MEET WITH CURRENT NIGERIAN OFFICIALS [emphasis mine] because she believed it might complicate her continuing diplomatic efforts with them on the uranium issue. The former ambassador agreed to restrict his meetings to former officials and the private sector…. The former ambassador told the committee staff that he met with the former Niger Prime Minister, the former Minister of Mines and Energy, and other business contacts.” [SSCI Report, Page 42, 7/7/2004]

2. “..I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: CURRENT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS [emphasis mine], former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business…” [“What I Didn’t Find in Africa”, NYT, Joe Wilson, 7/6/2003]


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