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« Unethical wuss: If Fitzgerald believed Valerie Plame was ‘covert,’ why couldn’t he prove it? | Main | How Joseph Wilson made fools of the Democrats »

May 30, 2007

Comments

folkbum

In Wilson's NYT Op-Ed, he wrote,
In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake--a form of lightly processed ore--by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

I'm not sure how that "implied that Vice President Dick Cheney sent him" or that "Bush or Cheney thought him a reliable emissary."

George

Joe Wilson: “What They Did, What The Office Of The Vice President Did, And, In Fact, I Believe Now From Mr. Libby’s Statement, It Was Probably The Vice President Himself ...” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 8/3/03)

Frank Warner

In spring 2003, Wilson constantly was making the Cheney-CIA connection as if Cheney and the CIA were working together in choosing Cheney as the nonpartisan, objective, perfect man for the Niger trip.

And recall, in that NYT op-ed, Wilson also wrote:

The mission I undertook was discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government.

Again, implying he was there representing the Bush-Cheney administration. You can try to argue he was saying he was just representing one little office in the little ol' CIA, but Wilson said "I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met I was acting on behalf of the United States government."

That sounds a little higher than one office in the CIA. Only if you knew Wilson's wife was working in that CIA office could you understand how much of the U.S. government Wilson really was representing.

That's why Armitage blabbed. Even Armitage, no friend of Bush, couldn't believe how much deception Wilson was getting away with.

folkbum

George, that only supports your theory if you read it out of context. Consider what Wilson said before and after (my bold):

WILSON: Well, look, it's absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.

What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby's statement, it was probably the vice president himself...

BLITZER: Scooter Libby is the chief of staff for the vice president.

WILSON: Scooter Libby.

They asked essentially that we follow up on this report -- that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed.

folkbum

Frank, the day after the NYT op-ed, the OVP developed talking points for how to deal with it (see this .pdf). The "he claimed Cheney sent him" story was ginned up by the VPs staff as a way to discredit Wilson, not in response to anything he actually said.

Christopher Taylor

Fess up, you are using the same five dollars for all these bets.

J_Crater

If, in fact, Val Plame continued to work at the CIA as a "covert" agent after her identity had been compromised twice before Novak wrote a word, one is left to believe that Val Plame was either one of the bravest or one of the stupidest "covert" agents at the CIA.

I think it was either the latter or none of the above.

Frank Warner

Folkbum, I said Wilson implied that Cheney sent him. That is certainly true. He implied the whole Bush administration sent him.

He also implied that the CIA chose him because he was the best, most reliable agent.

When everyone saw what a dishonest buffoon he was, they wondered how his name rose to the top of men-to-go-to at the CIA.

Unless you knew about his wife, you'd have to assume someone at the top of the Bush administration trusted his judgment.

What did Wilson find in Niger, Folkbum? You need $5? Tell me anything Wilson found to refute the assertion that Saddam sought uranium.

Preevyet

She told her damn neighbors she worked at the CIA so she was not covert or if she was, I agree she was stupid. This was a feeble attempt to get at the Bush administration in response to what happened to Klinton.

Frank Warner

Christopher, the other safe $5 bill is offered for information, any information, proving Saddam Hussein had stopped repressing the Iraqi people between 1991 and 2003.

Of course, if Saddam continued his repression in those years, he was in violation of U.N. Resolution 688, part of the 1991 cease-fire agreements. Violating a cease-fire effectively declares the battle resumed.

Unless you can win this $5, I'm saying Saddam did continue his repression, and that he, in effect, invited his own ouster.

folkbum

Look, Frank, you can infer what you want. But it takes a very selective--and very biased--reading of his statements to get that. All of his statements, from that op-ed to his TV appearances to his book, all indicate that the OVP requested a follow-up from CIA on a report (OVP does not deny this) and CIA asked him to go. Nowhere does he say differently. I don't see why it's so hard for you to read the plain language of that, why you insist on reading hard between the lines for something that's not there.

J. Crater, yes, the Russians and the Cubans new she was CIA. But she kept working in the counter-proliferation division just the same--you know, the people who try to keep nukes out of the hands of countries like Iran. If CIA was willing to protect her (and keep up her cover), and she was willing to do it, who are you to challenge that? She and the CIA apparently thought her work was important enough to keep sending her overseas under cover right up until Novak's column.

Preevyet, which neighbors? The Washington Times is the source of this claim, but the paper, in fact, has only ever quoted one neighbor, who said
that he "absolutely didn't know" that Mrs. Plame was in the CIA.

"We understood her to work as an economist," said David Tillotson, a 62-year old lawyer. He said he didn't know that Mrs. Plame commuted to CIA headquarters, but added that "they wouldn't be conducting an investigation if she hadn't been covert."

The only other neighbor on record anywhere said the same thing.

Frank Warner

Bias, Folkbum? Bias?

Just go by Wilson's own 2003 statement that "I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met I was acting on behalf of the United States government."

Then go by Wilson's 2004 letter that said, “I never claimed to have ‘debunked’ the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.”

Then ask yourself what the hell this was all about.

Wilson's whole schtick was implying things, and then taking them back. He spun a lot of nothing into infamy and fortune.

No wonder Richard Armitage blew the whistle.

folkbum

The CIA isn't part of the government any more?

Wilson was sent to investigate a specific report. "I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report" were his words. He dubunked that report: "[I]f the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them," was what he said.

So, in fact, he never claimed to have debunked that Saddam was seeking uranium from Africa, only from Niger. In fact, he admitted to Wolf Blitzer in the CNN transcript I linked above, "a delegation that went from Baghdad to Niamey in 1999. That visit was well documented in U.S. reporting as well."

Again, you have to try very hard to read into those sentences what you think he said. He did not say those things at all.

jj mollo

I have to admit that I love this controversy because they keep putting Valerie Plame on television. I just wish they would shut up with the back and forth arguments. It disturbs my concentration.

I think that Wilson is a glory hound with a controlling nature, but there may be some legitimate point that he has been misquoted and misinterpreted by both sides for political reasons. I'm sure he's been a pain to the Administration, but he is a Democrat, so what did they expect? Do I think the Administration is above stabbing him in the back and outing his wife? No and no. Do I think they actually did these things deliberately? Probably not, but who cares. Nobody thinks that Saddam wouldn't have given his eyeteeth, and maybe a son-in-law or two, to get his hands on a nuke. The only question is how careful he was at keeping his activities secret.

The part I care about is selective quotation, mis-quotation, malign imputation of motive and false meme passing. There's no doubt that this has been done to Wilson, though Wilson is certainly not blameless. But if you're going to apply the standard, why not apply it to President Bush as well. "Bush lied!", they shout.

Stipulating that some of the intelligence was false, it is still possible for fair-minded people to consider the possiblility that Bush was telling the truth as he saw it. Same for Wilson. The world is complicated and people are stupid. That explains almost everything.

Frank Warner

Folkbum, you really believe Joe Wilson debunked the assertion that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger?

Really, Folkbum? Tell me how. What did Joe Wilson find in Niger that debunked the claim that Saddam was seeking uranium from Niger?

This is the whole thing with Joe Wilson. He implies he was acting for Dick Cheney or the entire U.S. government. He tells everyone that Dick Cheney wants something, the CIA picks him as the adminstration's most trusted man for the job, of course, and we're left to assume that the CIA at least consulted with Cheney in choosing Wilson, or, perhaps that the CIA would mention Wilson's Niger trip to Cheney afterward. None of that happened.

Then, after Wilson's money-making furor, Wilson goes on TV and says I never said Cheney sent me. Well, he said enough to imply it.

Likewise with Niger. In that NYT op-ed piece, he bounces back from "sought" and "bought" to confuse the unlikelihood that Saddam had recently "bought" uranium from Niger with the likelihood that Saddam had "sought" uranium from Niger.

In his book, Wilson also called the president's claim that Saddam sought uranium from Africa "an obviously false claim."

Then, after all the furor, Wilson is caught lying about what he knew about forgeries, and then he even says he never debunked the claim that Saddam sought uranium from Africa.

The guy has made millions now implying things and then taking them back.

And he never found anything worthy of attention (except maybe his conversation with former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki).

Just before the invasion of Iraq, he said he believed Saddam had WMDs, including a nuclear program. He opposed the invasion, he said, because he thought Saddam would use those WMDs on U.S. troops.

And yet the Democratic partisans still hold this liar up as their hero.

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