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July 25, 2006



"To summarize, then: In February 1999 one of Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear goons paid a visit to Niger, but his identity was not noticed by Joseph Wilson, nor emphasized in his "report" to the CIA, nor mentioned at all in his later memoir."

I find this confusing. Given the information in this article why would Wilson "notice" it. Didn't he quit from government service by that time? And why would he mention it in his memoir if he hadn't seen the visit?

But Mr. Hitchens might make a better argument (or he is doing so already in a confusing way) if he points out that Joe was sent/junketted to Niger in 1999. Was that for the Zawahie visit? Could very well be, see p.39 of the Select Committee Prewar Intelligence report.

Did Joe mention in his memoir the 1999 visit at all?


Your supposition is a fine one, TM, but I also think Joe is the kind of glad handing, lying, show off, grifter that Hitchens just hates.


Here's the key passage:

"This means that both pillars of the biggest scandal-mongering effort yet mounted by the "anti-war" movement—the twin allegations of a false story exposed by Wilson and then of a state-run vendetta undertaken against him and the lady wife who dispatched him on the mission—are in irretrievable ruins. The truth is the exact polar opposite."

Ultimately, the people Joe and Valerie Wilson have harmed the most are the Iraqi people, and our soldiers. I think that's the root of why Mr. Hitchens has spent so much of his valuble time telling truth to their lies.

Tom Maguire

I find this confusing. Given the information in this article why would Wilson "notice" it. Didn't he quit from government service by that time? And why would he mention it in his memoir if he hadn't seen the visit?

I agree that it was poorly written - apparently Wilson mentioned it in his oral report to the CIA, but sort of left it out of his presentation in the NY Times, which is what Hitch means, I think.


Make that Valuable.

Let's just add Clarice, some of the staring players in this pathetic make believe saga are people C. Hitchens knows very well (Cockburn, Vanden Heuvel, Corn, and unfortunately the editors at VF who also published that ridiculous Unger piece on the Niger forgeries).

The whole thing has been a joke to everyone who knows anything in Washington. Now it need to just go away, along with Joe and Valerie.


In other words TM, either Joe was too dumb to send on such an important mission, and/or he is a horrible liar.

In any case, it's hard for me to believe that Val and her group were so out of it that they would not have seen the significance of Zawahie's visit to Niger. Most atomic analysts seemed to know exactly who he was, and what he did for Saddam. (And it does make you wonder why Blix would allow him to attend that meeting mentioned in the piece.)


From the article,

I told her of Zahawie's claim that he didn't know Niger made and exported uranium yellowcake and described this claim as "unlikely to be true,"

Saddam's point man on Nukes didn't know Niger had yellowcake?

He's almost as bad a liar as Wilson.



And it does make you wonder why Blix would allow him to attend that meeting mentioned in the piece.

Blix was chosen because he was acceptable to Saddam, events have shown Saddam chose wisely.

He could be relied upon to look the other way at exactly the right moment.


Hitchens sounds angry. He chooses words that are very biting. He knows that the MSM will just ignore this, and it is a bitter pill. And Hitchens has been around for a long time. That makes it all the more remarkable that he is emotionally invested in this.

How much influence does the MSM have? (With my wife, I'm afraid it's almost absolute.) But the poll released today that shows a sharp increase, to 50%, of the public that believes WMD were present in Iraq is very hopeful. Somehow, whether it is via the web or Fox or WSJ or other media, people are actually able to get access to the news.



Hitchens has written several times that a UN weapons inspector (Ekeus?) told him that Saddam's government offered him a couple of million bucks to turn a blind eye. Obviously, some took the offer.

Besides, Blix stated himself that global warming was a greater threat than Saddam's WMDs. Kind of tells you where his head (and his bank account?) is at.



There was a great deal of money floating around, so it is a possibility.

But Blix must have seen what hapenned to his predecessor,couple that with his bureaucratic mindset,and reflexive anti-Americanism and Saddam has his perfect pliable inspector.

That and he's as sharp as a sack full of doorknobs,explains a lot.


from the book

Page 14

"…The amount of uranium product – involved was estimated to have been up to five hundred tons but could have also been fifty, suggesting the account had been written in memory (and an imperfect one at that) rather than with the document in hand. It would have been of keen interest to me to know who might have signed the contract on behalf of the Niger government, but no information was provided on the either.

I was skeptical, as prudent consumers of intelligence always are about raw information. Thousands of pieces of data come over the governments transom on any given day, but a lot belongs in the category of "rumint", rumor passing as fact, no more reliable than Bigfoot sightings….

--Well TM said "Great to see Wilson doing double duty as both a collector and analyst of the intel, but Hitchens is a non-buyer."--

Page 15

Since my most recent visit to Niger had been 2 years earlier, the background I could supply was not about the current situation. However, the former Nigerien minister of mines, the man overseeing the industry at the time of the alleged sale, was a friend of mine. When I had seen him on my last trip, we discussed the uranium mining sector of the national economy, but had not talked specifically about any sales to countries to outside the consortium of companies from four nations – France, Germany, Spain, and Japan – that, with Niger, own the concessions.
(Emphasis – Mine)

Page 28

"Before I left Niger, I provided a member of American Embassy staff with an extensive briefing. In it, I outlined all that I had learned about the uranium operations. Additionally, I described a conversation with one of my sources. He had mentioned to me that on the margins of ministerial meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1999, a Nigerien businessman had asked him to meet with an Iraqi official to discuss trade. My contact said that alarm bells had immediately gone off in his mind. Well aware of United Nations sanctions on Iraq, he met with the Iraqi only briefly and avoided any substantive issues. As he told me this, he hesitated and looked up to the sky as if plumbing the depths of his memory, then offered that perhaps the Iraqi might have wanted to talk about uranium. But since there had been no discussion to of Uranium – my contact was idly speculating when he mentioned it -– there was no story. I spoke with the Nigerien friend again in January 2004, and he recollected our conversation in 2002. He told me that while he was watching coverage of press conference in Baghdad prior to second Gulf War, he recognized the Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Sadeed al-Sahaf, known to Americans as "Baghdad Bob", as the person whom he had met in Algiers. He had not known the name of the Iraqi at the time he told me about the conversation in 2002, and so this had not been included in my report"
(Emphasis – Wilson’s)


Hi Tom,

Can you set me straight here?

As you point out from the 2002 trip Joe reported he was told by a "former official" that that official was approached by a businessman in 1999.

Different, but also happening in 1999, Joe was sent to Niger to pursue information on something (see Select Committee report) and the report says no memo was made from that trip bcause Wilson discovered nothing.

So, was he sent the first time about Zawahie and on his second CIA sponsored trip he finds something validating the fear the provoked his first trip?


I only bolded because to me -- and am sure I am wrong - but I am a little unclear why the CIA would want Wilson, or anyone for that matter, to go talk about Niger's economic health.

Also, he says in the book that when he briefed the CIA – within an hour of his trip?? he told the briefers that if the CIA was still interested in the meeting on the "margins" his "suggestion was simple: approach the French uranium company, COMEGA, that had direct responsibility for the mining operation, since it would have had to been party to any irregular increase in production, or to a transaction with a customer outside the consortium"

Real simple? Really? - Um I thought that's what they sent Wilson for - to use all his "french contacts" and people in the business.

I guess at this point they realized what a bust this "mission" was, an um yeah..Comega is just going to, like Nigeriens, offer they'd just supplied Saddam with Uranium. Yeah, if you believe that than I bet you believe the "Bigfoot sightings"


I am so glad Hitch is exposing Wilson for the Grifter and Charlatan he is. I also agree that the main players; Corn,VandenHeuvel, Pincus , Kristof Mitchell,as well as Cooper and Miller all know who the players are in this Washington parlor game. The trick is to keep the public uninformed. thank God Hitch isn't going to let that happen.

Patrick R. Sullivan

I wonder if Erwin Chemerinsky reads Slate.


I think Erwin needs to read Seixton's blog too. Maybe then he'll know who he's in bed with. If he's the decent guy some people say he is, I don't think he'll like it too much. I know I wouldn't work pro bono with people who have close friends like Jason and Larry.


Since COGEMA is a French company with extensive state connections and Chirac sold Iraq the Osirak reactor,why should it be surprising that a little under the counter yellow cake dealing took place?

BTW Hans Blix is not a weapons specialist,but a lawyer,an employee of a UN agency.



BTW, read 2nd paragraph of p. 38 of the Report for the tidbit about another report, British?, about the 1999 Zawahi planned trip to Niger.

See p. 39 footnote about how Joe was sent to Niger in 1999. Connected?



BTW, read 2nd paragraph of p. 38 of the Report for the tidbit about another report, British?, about the 1999 Zawahi planned trip to Niger.

See p. 39 footnote about how Joe was sent to Niger in 1999. Connected?


As far as I can tell, no one was completely certain just how much yellowcake Niger produced in a year.

France is so cynical. They didn't care in 2002 if Iraq had an atomic program any more than they did in the 80s when Chirac helped to broker the deal. They just wanted a piece of Iraq's oil action, and if that meant providing Saddam with a few tons of yellowcake under the table--well, why not. I mean, really. It's not like he didn't already have 200,000 chemical and biological weapons shells! And who would ever know. No UN weapons inspectors after 1998.

Anyone who has followed the French political scene, and the utter corruption in Chirac's government knows that it is a joke to think that COMEGA would be straight about anything.

Yeah buddy, I bet the ex-Mrs. Wilson was real helpful with ole Joe's "Niger" contacts.

By the way, anybody know what she's up to now?



"See p. 39 footnote about how Joe was sent to Niger in 1999. Connected?"

That's what a lot of us have been trying to figure out.



F Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Defence Secretary, writing in the Washington Times recalls that his office frequently monitored efforts by Dr Khan’s worldwide network to divert technology to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development programme.

“We also sought Central Intelligence Agency assistance. The CIA has close ties with Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).

Indeed, my office would often work with US Customs to track down some of Khan’s US technology acquisitions to halt them before they were exported to Pakistan.”

Maloof wrote that a former Dutch prime minister has recently contended the CIA knew of Khan’s nuclear acquisition efforts from the early 1970s.

Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers in a recent interview, asserted that the CIA had even intervened to halt any Dutch court action against Khan.

According to Lubbers, the CIA had urged that the Pakistani scientist be allowed to continue his activities so they could be monitored.

“The CIA request to the Dutch strongly suggests it may have known of Khan’s efforts to assist North Korea and Iran in their nuclear development programmes. It also suggests the CIA helped facilitate such diversions and may have been aware of K

Now I don't too much about this, but it suggests that the CIA's way...was to allow things go on so that they could be "monitored"

I have wondered if the Niger mission was a two way helper and Wilson posed as the "you see me, you know what to do" kind of thing...he was a visual cue.

If say the CIA was well aware of Iraq's interest and maybe success in obtaining Uranium and were "monitoring" it, rather than aggressively reporting and trying to halt...then Admin get serious about Iraq and this report from other countries intel...it sort of makes sense. That would be a big embarrassment about 45 different ways.(especially with all the massive failures just endured)

It also makes the "were working on it" response...they were working on erasing their current involvement and come up with an acceptable "response"

And I wonder why Niger's Uranium dealings would be of keen interest to a retired private sectored diplomat?


"That's what a lot of us have been trying to figure out."

It says his wife suggested him for that trip too so I suspect it involve uranium not wheat.

The Select committee report implies it is covering everything about Niger under the chapter named "Niger." The only 1999 information given as known in 1999 is the foreign report about the Algerian businessman and Zahawi, ambasssador to the Vatican. So I think it safe to say that Joe's 1999 trip was promulgated by the CIA getting that foreign report, like his 2002 trip was promulgated by the "Niger Docs" received in 2001.

Joe reports in his book (after it was revealed some felt his 2002 findings supported the Iraq-seeking-uranium claim) that Baghdad Bob approached a Niger official. Baghdad Bob at the time was Iraq's Foreign Minister, it's Condi Rice equivalent. So Joe found not so much proof of the Zahawi trip, but possible CORROBORATION of it by the acts of another top Iraqi official making possible contacts about uranium.

That's why he doesn't like to talk about his first trip I suppose, context subverts his narrative.


What's interesting Javani..is Wilson says Zahawi intention was to see about opening up travel or some such (and seems to know all sorts of things about Zahawi - Opera)

Anyhow, I think it's interesting he says in 1999 he didn't talk to Nigeriens about sales outside the consortium - OK, but why in the world would Wilson even know what Zahawi purpose was - travel?

The original Italian reporting was primarily a gathering of news reports that detailed Zahawi's trip from Rome to Niger...and that's about it.

Anyhow, I just fail to see how a retired diplomat knows the details of Zahawi's trip, especially since he says 1999 he was there to only

"we discussed the uranium mining sector of the national economy, but had not talked specifically about any sales to countries to outside the consortium of companies from four nations – France, Germany, Spain, and Japan – that, with Niger, own the concessions."

Do I have something wrong here?


Another trip Javani. No written memo from the first trip either, though we now know that there was a lot of interaction between Niger and Iraq. And I'm guessing, no confidentiality agreement or security clearance either, or he would have had it for the 2002 trip (may be mistaken on that though. If he was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement in 1999, and not 2002, that would be REAL interesting)

Makes you wonder why he has been so sketchy on the first junket in 1999--and what else he did for CIA for that matter, that he is choosing not to make public. (Remember, they "promised" to keep his involvement secret--though he did not do the same. That in itself sends up red flags.)


It may have had to do with the Elf-Occidental machinations in Niger.



You mention the page 15 matter of Joe's book. Does anywhere state that it was CIA sponsored?

And maybe that was not his 1999. Could be a slight difference but 2002 is three years after 1999, on average :)

""but had not talked specifically about any sales to countries to outside the consortium of companies from four nations – France, Germany, Spain, and Japan – that, with Niger, own the concessions.""

Is this about the 1999 trip or another one? Cia cares about France, Germany receiveing uranium? Or some other mining adventure of his personal business? Anyway, the keys here are the qualifier "specifically" and Joe's favorite word "sales." Sales implies completion. If Iraq sought Uranium but didn't get to buy it, Joe is telling the truth but moving the goal posts about the concerns motivating his trips.



Consider whether his memoir's account of the earlier trip was not the 1999 trip the CIA payrolled. He might have been their several times.

Did the CIA pay to have him learn about Spain, Germany and France??? Nooo...



Also consider whether that earlier trip was the CIA sponsored trip. Then it is more urgent to read between the lines when he use words like "sales."


Ok, I loosing grip on memory...but I seem to remember the 1999 being USAID too?, but Wilson says the reason he was also considered for 2002 was his previous 1999 trip - and I seem to recall it was the 1999 trip that Valerie "offered him up" was he already had a trip arranged anyways.

I've lost it anymore though.


Javani--you're using my screen name by mistake.


And that's weirdish.


Nope, nothing weird TS (though I know after Jason, you've got the jitters!) He just wanted to respond to me, and wrote my name under NAME instead of his own.

As for the Wilsons. You can not trust anything Joe says. He has only given half-truths, and there is hardly any way for any of us to find out what's really going on other than what we can glean through google, lex. nex etc.

I'm really shocked than no good investigative journalist is going after him. There is a great book to be written on just what the blogsphere has found. Just imagine if you could go to anonymous sources for background...

Hoekstra's statements were a big hint that all is not well in Wilsonville. He is much too careful a politician to have said what he did without something to back it up.

And notice there was silence from the Wilson camp (including the MSM) over that part of the leaked memo.

Like Clarice said in her excellent article today--August 27, it's coming soon.



Sales implies completion. If Iraq sought Uranium but didn't get to buy it, Joe is telling the truth but moving the goal posts about the concerns motivating his trips.

Moving the goalposts is exactly what he did in his supposed "debunking" of the 16 words in the SOTU.

Thge POTUS said "sought", but Wilson went ahead as if the standard was "bought."

Seeking Uranium is a strong indication of having a nuclear enrichment programme,buying it denotes it being sucessful.


Sometime ago, a theory was floated that Saddam was purchasing the yellowcake and having it shipped to Libya. I guess that went by the wayside?


I think it's still on the table Sue--along with what happened to the WMD we knew he had.


France and Iraq Oil France was the net gainer from keeping Saddam Hussein in power,what is 500 tons of yellow cake for the rights to the biggest oilfield in Iraq?
Politically, it would have suited France if Iraq had been the dominant power in the Middle East,a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia and a guaranteed source of oil.



Really? I haven't heard anything else about it.


Verner, question:

Would Valerie Plame's connections with the Iran non-proliferation program ... have anything to do with Iran's imminent nuclear program?

After all, seeing that Joe Wilson organized that huge trip for Clinton and his group and Clinton giving Iran the blueprints on how to make nuclear weapons....


As I read this, Hitch is making the point that in his oral report to the CIA Wilson noted a 1999 contact by Iraqis, but without any identification of the Iraqis involved

I think you're reading it wrong, and confusing various 1999 events, but it's undersandable, because Hitchens is full of it. With any luck, I'll get to count the ways.



Iraq had a weapons program in Libya,Iraqi scientists and equipment were there,Khadaffi gave it up.

Most likely Mad Mo' was afraid we would backtrack through Saddams paperwork,and he'd be the next Tinpot Dictator found in a spider hole.

Sara (The Squiggler)

This is so confusing.

There is something missing. Val offers up Joe in 1999??? Is this correct?

1998-1999 Isn't this the timeframe where JW's first marriage ends and his "head over heals" in love saga begins with Val?

Hasn't it been a point of discussion of how easy it was for Val to blab she was CIA to JW during the hot pursuit of back seat sexcapade?

Was it all a recruitment on Val's part that fell victim to JW's machiavellian moves?

I don't know what is the bigger soap opera, Plame/Wilson or the affair de Seixon? Or wait, it's the same cast, just a different act and scene.


WAPO, July, 2004on the SSCI (?)

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.

I do not find this in Wilson's book.



We may never know. There may be things that are still classified for any number of reasons. But I think what is now beyond dispute is that a) Iraq was seeking yellowcake from Niger and b) the 16 words in the SOTU were justified.


Do we know that Val had anything significant to do with Iran and non-proliferation? Who is the source for that? David Shuster and Raw Story are the only sources I know about.

Didn't he meet Val in 1997? So I guess they would have been married in 1998.


OK Mr. Knowitall. Give us a timeline for Joe's activities in 1999. Go on. (This should be good)

Also, try being specific about where C Hitchens is "full of it" in this piece-and be specific, with evidence to back up your claims.

Put up or shut up.

Luck doesn't have anything to do with it.

And try to do it without writing "War and Peace" for a change, if you don't mind.



You are just inviting a host of "if by way, therefore, obvious which however and accounting which by way, therefore,clearly, however demonstrates...therefore...however"

Hichen's writes:

In February 1999 one of Saddam Hussein’s chief nuclear goons paid a visit to Niger, but his identity was not noticed by Joseph Wilson, nor emphasized in his “report” to the CIA, nor mentioned at all in his later memoir.

and then I was unable to find this in his book:

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.

Could have Wilson described the 1999 Zahawi trip to his briefer as happening in 1998, and leaving out that the identity of the Iraqi?

Since he is the king of misspeak, when pressed at the SSCI did he agree he may have perhaps confused the year? Or more likely the stupid briefers misquoted him.

Is that passage in the SSCI?

Anyways...I am almost certain Wilson's 1999 trip also occurred in February...so I'm pretty sure Hitchen's is dosing his words in heavy sarcasm...especially since Wilson has pontificated on personal hobbies and loves of the Z-Man...if Zahawi was in Niger the same time Wilson was there, Wilson would know.


and when I say...and leaving out that the identity of the Iraqi?...he offered NO identity, period, to his de-briefers.

and if was Zwahie...like Hitchens says " in his “report” to the CIA," is a joke to Hitch...because all involve would know who Zwahie is, espeically Wilson. And knows that not emphasizing is stinky. or crazy imcompentnet.


oh..and how is it Wilson so positive Zwahie's only purpose in 1999 was to open up travel, but another Iraqi - Baghdad Bob! as it turns out--was there the SAME year for uranium - he thinks - but ALSO someone was seeking in 1998.

Yeah, doesn't add up. At the least, Just on that, 2 out of the 3 years up to the most current...they were seeking. And Inspector Gadget didn't get it?


I think my head exploded reading the comments-and its not that many.

Agree: Anything that Val and Joe say are tainted/halftruth. Anything from "Scarry Larry and the vips" (sounds like a punk band) is also tainted.

Wilson went to Niger in 1999 and 2002 both times to "wink wink nudge nudge" talk about uranium. How about this, building on Clarice's great piece at AT-France was tring to get the uranium not to Iraq or Lybia, but to Saudi Arabia. France could use their banks to hide the money trail and Oil-for-Food to cover the transport of the loot. 1 million lbs of chickpeas shipped to XYZ company, cleared by Cotechna-all sorts of goofy names pop out in the Oil for Food Scam,...

And if the CIA thought (convinced, bought) it a good idea to do controlled poliferation to SA, what better way than to stick it to Iraq at the same time (and make some personal cash on the side)

I was also looking at some of the names of the vips-connections to KSA and they know how to take care of friends...

Anyway, its late or rather early and I don't think I made all that much sense.

1. Joe Wilson is a liar
2. Niger-Iraq-Uranium (why did Iraq need it, they had 500 tons of the stuff, and 2.5 tons of LEU)
3. I'm sounding like Carol Herman, I'm walking back from the keyboard and getting some sleep


Chicago Station


Just to be clear, there are two different meetings in 1999:

Feb. 1999: Iraq's Vatican Ambassador, Wissam al-Zahawie, meets with the Niger President, Ibrahim Bare Mainassara in Niger.

June, 1999: Iraq's Foriegn Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf [aka "Baghdad Bob"] meets to talk about "expanding commercial relations" with Niger's Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mayaki, at the margins of the OAU summit.

Furthermore, here are two facts that throw more fuel on the fire and one fact that throws water on a long misunderstood issue.

A. While inspectors were trying to disarm Iraq after the first Gulf War, here's what Zahawie said at a 1995 UN conference on extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

"[B]y exempting one State [Israel] from applying the provisions of the Treaty while expecting others to respect it forever," the UN summary cites Zahawie as saying, "there would inevitably be attempts to restore a certain balance. That meant an arms race, whether secret or public."

For an interesting follow-up read Hitchen's response to Zahawie's e-mail critical of Hitchen's coverage of the issue here.

B. Wilson has had trouble with facts that don't fit his narrative. Was there a meeting in June 1999 between Iraq and Niger? A timeline:

1. Wilson says “yes” during his private CIA debrief in March, 2002.

2a. Wilson fails to mention the meeting in his NYT op/ed July 6, 2003.

2b. Wilson fails to mention the meeting during his first “Meet the Press” interview, July 6, 2003.

2c. DCI Tenet says “yes” in a July 11, 2003 CIA statement which brings the meetings existence to the public for the first time.

3. Wilson says “no” during a “Frontline” PBS Interview in August, 2003.

4. Wilson says “no” twice during his second “Meet the Press” interview in October, 2003.

5. Wilson says “yes” in his book “The Politics of Truth” January, 2004.

6. Wilson says “yes” during his third “Meet the Press” interview in May, 2004.

7. Wilson says “yes” to SSCI committee staff --report released in July, 2004.

C. Finally, in 1998 Iran not Iraq expressed an interest in purchasing 400 tons of uranium from Niger.

Rick Moran

If I may be allowed a bit of shameless self promotion on both my behalf and on behalf of Clarice...

She will be on my radio show this morning talking about this article and other issues starting at 8:30 AM central time. You can access the stream by going here and clicking on the "Listen Live" button in the left side bar:



Good luck, Moran and Feldman! Best of luck to the new WAR radio.

I can't believe what I heard on Fox News this morning: 1) UN outpost on the Israel - Lebanon border videotaped the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah. and 2) Annan wanting an investigation of Israeli dropping a rocket over a UN building and killing 4 UN employees.

Seeing how Hizbollah uses civilians as human shields, talk about disproportionate reaction and response!

I can't wait for Annan's term to expire on Dec 31, midnight of this year. Too bad that there is no way to accelerate the end of his term to midnight tonight.

Good post about chickehawks, Moran, btw.


Just listened to Condi, Prodi, Annan, and Saniora. They're not pushing for a cease fire but rather a lasting and sustaining peace. I noticed Condi slightly shaking her head up and down while listening to Annan. Annan seemed swayed by this conference by focusing on Lebanon withe the desire of disarming Hizabollah.

But we will see how effective their efforts will be.


I would be interested to hear what more Jeff has to say about this. A while ago, at EW's, we were discussing the so-called absurdity of the idea that Wilson would go to Niger for his own benefit. I said he was starting an international business consulting company, so international contacts were important to him. EW stated that he wouldn't have said anything that might have hurt Niger if that were the case. She then said something to the effect that if I knew anything about the 1999 trip, I wouldn't be making this argument.
Does she know more about the 1999 trip? Jeff, do you or do you know what EW was talking about?

Why don't the left bloggers that have his phone number ever ask him these things?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998..'

Someone beat me to it, but that should read 'Iran'.

As to Clarice's recent AT piece, I've said from the beginning that Joe Wilson's reaction to Valerie's name appearing in Novak's column was bizarre. It made no logical sense, UNLESS he had a guilty conscience. Something to hide, which he did with his drama queen performances.


Kevin O"Brian has an excellent article in theCleveland Plain Dealer about how important it is for Israel to fight for their lives against Hezbollah. Condi's course of sweeping out this nest of Hezzie vipers is the right one. Cease-fire now only appeases the terrorists. Annan should have better security for his peace forces and get them out of harm,s way. Annan.s term can,t end soon enough for me.
Congrats clarice on your article and radio interview. Very informative.


once again you are in the lame zone with your ad-hominen attacks on Hitchens. Once you get defensive your arguments such as they are lose strength.


Patrick R. Sullivan

As to Clarice's recent AT piece
Somewhat tangential, but interesting nonetheless.

Wilson’s role was acknowledged by Clinton. When he hosted a dinner for Ghana’s visiting President, Wilson and his wife, noted in the press account of the dinner as “Valerie Wilson” were among the guests.

We have Wilson, and his wife,in a high profile role in Bill and Joe's Excellent African Adventure,no doubt Joe spent most of the time there strutting like a peacock.

You would think having a "secret", "classified" or "covert" agent in the public eye,being directly connected to the Government would be a bad thing.


"She then said something to the effect that if I knew anything about the 1999 trip, I wouldn't be making this argument."

Maryrose, Joe likely fed Empty Wheel a load of his crapola and she, being the star struck cultist, just swallowed it whole--thinking she was a chosen one for insider scoop.

The facts remain. The opera loving Z-man was Saddam's head honcho on things atomic. He went to Niger for only one reason. Val's pals in the CIA are either a bunch of blind idiots, or liars if they don't admit this plain fact. The big question is why are they to this day so set on discrediting the importance of Iraqi contacts with Niger, and what is Joe's role in all of this?

I would imagine that before he left, Goss did much housekeeping over these very issues, but we will likely never know exactly what happened. The people who sent Joe are most likely gone, or put in a closet where they can't do any more harm. Alan Foley gave us some hints in his Bolton testimony, as did Hoekstra in the leaked memo.

No wonder Leopold and Scary Larry have gone off the deep end. They know the end is near. If we here at JOM have found what we have, just imagine what the IG at CIA and the JD know.


One guess, verner, as to what Joe's role in all of this is money, power, and recognition.

Starting and running a business, Joe must have thought it would bring more money to him and make him rich. He cared about himself.


Another question. We know that Libya had a much more advanced atomic program than the idiots at CIA knew about. We also know that Iraqi scientists were in Libya. We also know that the AQ Kahn network was much more wide-reaching than the anyone suspected.

So where did all of those folks get their yellowcake? Anybody got an answer? Could it be that Saddam was using oil for food money to acquire a little for his friends--knowing that they would share the technology with his regime when needed?

And of course Saddam couldn't use his own yellowcake. That was under seal. And he knew damned well, that no matter what, before sanctions could be lifted, he would have to account for it.

His bet was that the French and Russians could prevent the liberation. That's what Joe and his buddies at the CIA wanted too by the way.

Despite claims to the contrary, the yellowcake industry in Niger doesn't seem all that airtight. If it was, why did the Niger president suggest that the US should buy all the yellowcake so that it would not end up in rogue hands?


York on Cheremensky


Gabriel Sutherland

topsecretk9: You are correct. The CIA doesn't try and stop all transfers of technology. The CIA's role is not to police the world. It's to supply the State and Defense departments with accurate information they can use as leverage to pursue American interests.

Were the Americans going to stop the Pakistanis from acquiring nuclear weapons? Unlikely. But, we could learn about their program and use that information as a way to obtain leverage to force the Pakistanis to install better fail safe mechanisms which would allow warheads to be armed after launch and safe detonated prior to contamination.

There's an Israeli-South African dealer by the name of Asher Karni that you can look up on Google. Karni was busted by US Customs as for illegally transferring dual-use oscillators from the United States, to Pakistan's Defense Sector, through South Africa and Dubai. Karni's serving time in Federal prision right now.

Karni was born in Israel, served in the IDF, and may have been a Mossad agent also trying to track Pakistan's nuclear program. I believe the Israelis also manufacture warhead systems that allow for the arming of warheads after launch and fail safe mechanisms for detonation of warheads prior to contamination. Karni could just be a wheeler and dealer. All Israelis serve in the IDF so it's hard to say there is anything more to it than just coincidence.

The CIA's game is to know things and to know them without other governments knowing they know them. When US interests need to reveal what we know to certain countries, the CIA should be there to provide the background for the information. That's why agents are called in to brief the NSC under an alias. They give the background to NSC members so that the NSC can develop a strategy around that information. It is not always about siezing on that intel to blow up an operation.

You can read Mahdi Obeidi's, former head of Iraqi Atomic Agency, book, "The Bomb in my Garden" for the full background on the French connection to Iraqi atomic research progress. The French were suspiscious of the Iraqi program and were likely involved in it because they wanted to know all they could about it.


Lurker:"One guess, verner, as to what Joe's role in all of this is money, power, and recognition."

Oh I agree Lurker. But there is also a strong stench of cover-up.

It seems pretty clear that Joe was up to his neck in it before he went to Niger in 2002. Just look at all the lies, contradictions, and obfuscation.

We don't know what Jacqueline Wilson's role is in all of this.

We don't know exactly what his relationship is/was at Rockcreek.

We don't know why he went to Niger in 1999.

We don't know if he had any relationship with William Jefferson.

We don't know if he was working with the anti-Bush forces before he left for Niger.

We don't know why Val's group felt that he was their only option.

We don't know why he was sent without a security clearance, or a non-disclosure agreement.

We don't know why Val insists that she did not suggest sending him, when there is written proof that she did.

We don't know why he insisted that he found evidence that the reports were crazy, when other analysts thought his info strengthened the case that Iraq approached Niger.

We don't know what Val did at the CIA--but we know that she did not work for Alan Foley at WINPAC, as they claimed in VF. We also know that she was not covert, and had not been for many years.

We don't know why Fulton Armstrong inserted himself into the Niger forgeries debate (NIO LA?) And why he very arrogantly dismissed the evidence presented by other analysts. (And I'd love to know where he is now. Havana, sunning with Phillip Agee? No wonder Bolton wanted him gone.)

And that's just a starter.

Gabriel Sutherland

verner: William Langewiesche has two pieces published last year in the Atlantic Monthly about the black market for nuclear technology. In the pieces he describes how the black market for nuclear technology is a game of advanced western scientists, essentially paid not to work by western governments, but are eager to share their knowledge with burgeoning scientists in the developing world.

The market is linear. One nation cannot do all the research without ringing alarms of western intelligence agencies. Therefore, a linear model exists where yellowcake is refined in one place, missile delivery technology is done in another place, assembly is done in another place, and warhead storage is in another place. Among the players, they each agree to do their part to share the end game with eachother.

It's not clear that Libya would have done a complete 180 without the invasion of Iraq. They may have leveraged their part of the nuclear market by opting for negotiation with the UK and US to end trade sanctions by accepting responsiblity for Pan Am flight 103, giving up their nuke program, and in exchange reviving trade with western economies.

The British say that the Iraq invasion had everything to do with Libya's dramatic shift. Publicly, Libya still walks the anti-american rope, but privately they're eager to do business with the United States.

Gabriel Sutherland

verner: We do know that Joe and Val's ex-CIA defenders also show up on the same Saudi Payola train as Joe and Val.

People are acting in their own personal financial interest. It appears Joe has been acting in this manner. And his ex-CIA defenders have done the same. They may be engaged in a deranged tactic to acquire better retirement compensation, or they just may never want to leave the spook game, EVER. They like the risk. They like the reward. They like the publicity.

Remember when spooks shied away from attention. Espinoge has gone glam.


I'm an Atlantic subscriber Gabe, and I have "A Bomb in My Garden" on the shelf.

It continues to amaze me how clueless the anti-war, pro-wilson, Bush lied crowd is. They obviously don't have the cognative ability to see that we are dealing with global networks, and that just because the programs were not happening on Iraqi soil (for obvious reasons) does not mean that Saddam was not involved with the process.

As for the French, their foreign policy approach has for decades been to coddle and manipulate the "inferiors" in the Arab world just as they do in their former colonies in Africa. Who cares as long as it helps French economic interests (as in ELF oil contracts or uranium for French reactors)! Bonus points if it takes the US down a notch.

Their cynicism, arrogance and corruption is astounding.

Gabriel Sutherland

verner: Don't pretend the United States doesn't engage in the very same affairs we criticize the French for partaking. If the US did know about the AQ Khan network as far back as Lubbers suggests, then we were likely engaged in the very same tactics as the French.

The US armed Saddam. We weren't arming him as fast as the French, Chinese and Soviets were arming him, but we were arming him in order to learn more about Iraq and its Middle East interests.

Chirac has an embarassing handshake moment with Saddam, but so does Rumsfeld.


I remind you that we provided blueprints for a nuclear reactor to the Iranians (thru the CIA). The blueprints had a flaw. We used a Russian to deliver them. He was a scientist and noted to them the error in the blueprints which they then corrected.

Another genius move it would appear.

Edward Luttwak says what we know of the CIA is its failures. What we don't know is its failures not yet public.

Gabriel Sutherland

clarice: I'm not one to pump up the CIA's image, but do we really know about their successes?

brenda taylor

thats the problem clarice what we dont know.i think they carry out the policys they want not whats in the best intrest of this country.


Now your panties are showing Gabe.

"verner: Don't pretend the United States doesn't engage in the very same affairs we criticize the French for partaking. If the US did know about the AQ Khan network as far back as Lubbers suggests, then we were likely engaged in the very same tactics as the French."

You'll have to talk to the Clinton Administration about that. Maybe that's why so many Clinton appointees are involved in the CIA CYA.

"The US armed Saddam."

BULLSHIT. Iraq has always been a soviet client state. I've seen a report (from a respected Swedish arms control think tank IIRC) that indicated that the US supplied Saddam with a minimal amount of arms--a miniscule part of his arsenal. And that was a long time ago.

You're going to have to back that statement up with some hard evidence, not just a bunch of Euro-socialist talking points that were discredited three years ago.

"Chirac has an embarrassing handshake moment with Saddam, but so does Rumsfeld"

Oh PLEEZE. The Reagan administration gave Iraq a bit of realpolitik aid during the Iran Iraq war. It was, as that ole SOB Kissinger said, a war in which we wished both parties to lose. But any so called "aid" that was given was made up for in the Gulf War, ten years of no-fly-zones, and the liberation of Iraq. France and the Russians, however, used every trick in the book to keep Saddam in power.

Get your facts straight, and stop cherry picking.


Fair comment, Gabriel. OTOH the failures are so substantial--ranging from being unaware the USSR was falling apart to missing the Pak nuclear program and the Libyan one--that it is unlikely that anything that related to analysis could outweigh their public record of failure.

As for the spec ops type things..that may certainly be another matter.But it would never justify keeping on the rest of the operations in Langley.(Pilar, Johnson McGovern,Plae, Sheuer all appear to be utter kooks and their public behavior and comments do not inspire confidence.And then there's MOM and her friends with speed dials to the WaPo and NYT)


OT: I see that Seixon just got a death threat. Patterico's talking about it. Looks like it's getting more media attention.


"Chirac has an embarassing handshake moment with Saddam, but so does Rumsfeld."

Rumsfeld didn't sell Saddam a reactor.


It's so rude to compare presents PUK.


Clarice, all things considered, I would not doubt that Aldridge Ames was just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are deep moles left over from the Cold War.

Honestly, how else can you explain it. They have the might of the most powerful, advanced nation in the history of the world behind them, along with a 30 billion a year budget, and they still can't find hay in a haystack.


How else to explain it? Church Committee; govt rules on diversity; hardening of the arteries..

Gabriel Sutherland

Relax verner. My sources are the same as yours. That's why I indicated that the US was arming Saddam, just not to the levels that France, China and the USSR were.

My point was lost in your focusing on brief statements. It was simple. The French have taken similar routes in engaging aspiring nations as they exit the third world. We've excused all sorts of actions the Pakistanis have taken over the years in order to maintain our relationship with them. We're doing it now as well.

Read some books by former CIA agents. Not the Mr. Plame defenders, but the Gary Schroen's and Gary Bernsten's. The CIA has not been a total and complete failure. There are successes to talk about. It's discredits you to believe that everything they have done is wrong.

Gabriel Sutherland

clarice: The incredible influence of Bianca Jagger. Bianca, through her sexual relationship with Toricelli, and Toricelli's financial connections to now convicted North Korean agents, and the fact that he was able to make so much noise about very little to change the guiding light of the CIA.


Interesting, Gabriel. I recall reading yesterday that Bianca holds some sway over Dodd as well. Maybe there's a story in that.



I still think you're missing the point.

Don't make the best the enemy of the good.

We are no longer in a era of Kissingeresque realpolitik, unlike the Russians and French. Even so, we must work with what we have, and do what we can do. Pakistan is a perfect case in point.

Musharraf is certainly no choirboy, but of the available options, he's the best we've got. Could there be democratic elections in Pakistan? Maybe. But we'd risk disruption from the Islamists, and the possibility that a government would be elected that would throw out democracy--just as Hitler did in Germany.

Then there's India to think about.

If you've got a better plan, let us know.

Gabriel Sutherland


Of course there is a story. SIR Mick's ex-still on the payroll-wife, is mucking up the US international intelligence community. What's the House of Windsor got on us that makes them want to knight our leaking ambassadors and their rockstar's wives that crush our operations?

How come we won the war for independence, but we're still carrying water for the crown?


Your AT article is being noted all over the blogosphere. The Anchoress has joined the group.


"How else to explain it? Church Committee; govt rules on diversity"

Like I said, deep moles. LOL

Gabriel Sutherland

verner: Our problems are not the Pakistani people. Do you think they like Bin Laden? How about the mullahs?

The Pakistani people elected a progressive left government, TWICE, and the leaders were from the same family(father, daughter). The US was friendly with Pakistan because India was too close to Moscow. Now instead of worrying about India we worry about Pakistan and we really don't worry about India. The Islamist forces in Pakistan are about as powerful as Hizb'allah in Lebanon. The difference is that Pakistan has a real army that can actually be trusted to defend the entire nation from external threats. The Lebanese army can't do that, thus Hizb'allah prospers.

I like Musharraf. Sometimes a nation needs a general to run things. So long as he is eventually willing to turn power back to the people upon squashing the external threat. I'm not sure what immediate external threat exists to Pakistan.


Thanks, sad.


I don't know that I'm such a big fan of Benazir Bhutto. Yes, she did some things for women, and the extremists hated her because of it, but I don't know that she was necessarily a friend of the US.

IIRC,(I'm no expert on Pakistan, and I'm quoting from something I read 5 or 6 years ago, so I may have my facts wrong) she supported the formation of a sort of Islamic alliance that would stretch from the ME to Indonesia, and that would be a counterweight to US power/foreign policy.

A very complicated part of the world.

The Bush administration has already stated a desire for Musharraf to eventually hold elections. As things settle down in Afghanistan and Iraq, I think you'll see a harder push in that direction.

Gabriel Sutherland

verner: sounds good. There's just a billion Hindus in the way that might disagree.

Let fantasies be fantasies.

Pakistan is quite a country considering the turmoil they've been through. They've held it together by having such an effective military establishment. Some say it is too strong, but it never runs short of recruits.

Charlie (Colorado)

How else to explain it? Church Committee; govt rules on diversity; hardening of the arteries...

Hah, I can explain it. I saw it at Another Thre-letter Agency that is generally competent. See, at that agency "generally competent" here gives away that it's NSA), I saw, on average, about one person in ten who was actually useful.

They achieve that proportion because when someone is found to be generally useful at CIA, they are immediately transferred to NSA.


verner, can we add to your list of things we don't know that We don't know why the House Republicans fought to protect William Jefferson's papers from the FBI? In light of Clarice's article, this seems even stranger than it seemed at first.


Why? Because "there but for the grace of God go I".


PUK , you are too fast for me (actually I was swimming and just got back). Aside from your well-taken point, you must understand that Congress views itself as some uber caste and there is one common end there:More for us --money, privileges, staff-- whatever.


Turkey, too, is run by its military which has saved them and us. I am afraid that military (sub rosa, of course) rule is on its way out there.


How else to explain it?

Last time I checked, CIA starting salaries for technical professionals with graduate degrees was about half that of private industry. That might also shed some light on the question.


Any wonder why Rumsfeld fought tooth and nail to keep his own DoD intel operation?


**How else to explain it?**

Every scarylarry, valjo, MOM, Aldrich Ames, etc. that is exposed chases away a few more brightest of the bright who might have chosen the CIA as a profession.


Have you folks been following the latest Seixon, ScarryLarry, Leopold craziness?



You are so right about the uber-caste of Congress- some like Kennedy, Jefferson and McKinney do believe they are above the law. Let them become regular citizens and let's see how their actions play out.


The best way to deal with Congress is to reduce their staffs. They whatever they say they have to think up themselves and they will have less time for shennanigans. Many Congressmen are actually decent people doing their best, but the culture of privilege up there must be seen to be believed. The US Senate reminds me of the Court at Versailles under the Sun King.

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