The liars against Bush
Yellowcake uranium: what Saddam didn't buy from Niger
Joseph Wilson vs. the right-wing conspiracy
Gleeful conservatives insist the Senate Intelligence Committee report impeached the former ambassador's claims about Iraq and uranium. But Wilson is firing back.
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By Mary Jacoby
The dispute over the committee report centers on its interpretation of two facts. One is that Wilson told his CIA debriefers that during his Niger trip, he spoke to the country's former prime minister, who told him that members of an Iraqi delegation in the late 1990s expressed interest in expanded commercial contacts with Niger. The former prime minister told Wilson that he interpreted the comment to mean that Iraq was interested in buying uranium, although the word "uranium" was not mentioned in the Iraqis' conversation, he said. The prime minister, fearful of United Nations sanctions that prevented trade with Iraq at the time, dropped the subject, Wilson reported.
But because the ex-minister believed the Iraqis were seeking uranium, the Senate report concluded that whether Iraq sought uranium in Africa remains an open question -- a conclusion Wilson disputes. It further reported that far from debunking the notion that Iraq was seeking uranium for weapons, Wilson's trip to Niger actually bolstered the story, at least in the view of some intelligence analysts, who found the news that the former prime minister believed the Iraqis were trying to buy uranium convincing. But no sale of uranium ever took place, Wilson reported, and that conclusion is not in dispute. Wilson did report that Iraq's neighbor, Iran, had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from Niger in 1998.
The report also quotes an internal CIA memo written by Wilson's wife, Plame, stating: "my husband has good relations with both the PM (prime minister) and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." Based on Plame's internal memo and other evidence, three Republicans -- Roberts and Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Kit Bond of Missouri -- wrote additional views appended to the report, concluding that "the plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested" by Plame. The three GOP senators criticized their Democratic counterparts on the panel for refusing to endorse this conclusion.
In his letter to the committee, Wilson disputed the Republican senators' characterization. "There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip," he wrote. A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment. In an interview, Wilson said that his wife was stating facts about his background, not pushing that he go to Niger.
The Washington Post story, meanwhile, took the disputed Senate report conclusions even further. It stated in its lead that Wilson was "specifically recommended for the mission by his wife ... contrary to what he has said publicly." In the interview, Wilson argued that the Post story failed to make clear that only the intelligence panel's Republicans, and not its Democrats, came to that conclusion. He said he has written a letter of protest to the Post.
Of course, the CIA is now saying they asked her about her husband, because he was one of the few US citizens with a security clearance who had experience in both countries. Even if Joe Wilson wasn't her husband, the CIA would have found their way to his doorstep. What sane person sends the father of their infant children to a flyblown African country to look good? Her career didn't need it, since she was on a promotion track ( she had been pulled from the field to work in headquarters, not a demotion for most people) and he was a consultant. Wilson has no reason to lie. But then, everyone who opposes Bush is a liar, Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson, John Kerry, Michael Moore. All these people lie, even though there is no evidence of these lies. Ever.
If Ms. Plame had suggested that her husband should go to Niger, why would he lie about it. He was the former ambassador to
the country the neighboring country of Gabon, and one of the few experts in Francophone Africa and Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq. These are public facts, not a secret. Why wouldn't the CIA seek him out? Why wouldn't his wife recommend him? He was qualified for the job, regardless of who brought up his name.
But they have to smear him, no matter what. Because the Dauphin can never be wrong.
posted by Steve @ 5:34:00 AM