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Sunday, September 28, 2003

A big mistake

Leaking Joe Wilson's wife name to columnist Robert Novak in July is about to explode on the doorstep of the Bush White House.

Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers' allegation was that Wilson had benefited from nepotism because the Niger mission had been his wife's idea. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said, "The real issue is Wilson and his wife."

The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said he had no indication that Bush knew about the calls. Columnist Robert Novak published the agent's name in a July column about Wilson's mission.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. He said Aug. 21 at a public forum in Seattle that it is of keen interest to him "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

Besides just being stupid, and a crime, it indicates a White House so enraptured with ideological loyalty it would do anything to get those who opposed them.

But this is not their biggest problem. Another WaPo story hangs over the White House:

House Probers Conclude Iraq War Data Was Weak

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 28, 2003; Page A01

Leaders of the House intelligence committee have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

Top members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which spent four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material used by the Bush administration to make its case for the war on Iraq, found "significant deficiencies" in the community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq, and said it had to rely on "past assessments" dating to when U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and on "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence," both of which "were not challenged as a routine matter."

"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist," the two committee members said in a letter Thursday to CIA Director George J. Tenet. The Washington Post obtained a copy this weekend.

The letter constitutes a significant criticism of the U.S. intelligence community from a source that does not take such matters lightly. The committee, like all congressional panels, is controlled by Republicans, and its chairman, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), is a former CIA agent and a longtime supporter of Tenet and the intelligence agencies. Goss and the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), signed the letter. Neither was available for comment yesterday. The full committee has not voted on the letter's conclusions.

This is going to be used in the debate over the $87B like a sledgehammer. However, the first place this will be used is not in Congress, but the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth this week. Blair won't be able to hold off the anti-war people once this hits the UK papers.

While the Wilson case may be more sexy, this is devestating. Blair, even more than Bush, relied on the intelligence to serve as the cause for war. Now, to have Congress, especially the GOP controlled House, claim the intelligence was certainly won't help Blair when Glenda Jackson is waving that letter around and yelling about betrayal.

But you have to connect the dots.

These stories indicate that the intel picture was cooked by ideologues who would go to any lengths, and exposing a NOC CIA agent is any lengths, to distort the intel on Iraq to wage their war. They would not only exagurate any claims, they would seek to ruin anyone who opposed them.

Their claim that Joe Wilson would go to Niger because his wife pressed him to go, a trip to a remote African country which he covered his expenses and took him away from his toddlers, is ridiculous beyond belief. My feeling is that while Rove may have been involved, the other suspect works for Dick Cheney, home of a cabal of CIA hating loons. I would look hard at Scooter Libby, a prime PNAC member, and other Cheney people. If someone had a grudge against the Agency in the White House, it was in the VP's office. Because only someone with a deep grudge would do something so spiteful and short sighted and lacking in real-world common sense. No one besides the extremely curious vacation in Niger. Wilson was a senior and respected diplomat with serious ties to the military. He was not a glory seeking assclown like Max Boot.

Now, the idea is that the Bush Administration had violated so many rules on intel its no surprise that their house of cards is collapsing around them.

posted by Steve @ 3:09:00 AM

3:09:00 AM

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