Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The only Plame scandal: Joe Wilson's tea in Niger

John Podhoretz conjectured in 2003 on how the Administration came to sent Joe Wilson to Niger on a "fact-finding" mission:

"Administration official: 'We didn't send him there. Cheney's office asked CIA to get more information. CIA picked Wilson . . . Look, I hear his wife's in the CIA. He's got nothing to do. She wanted to throw him a bone.' "

And the reality . . . is exactly what Podhoretz's supposition outlined.

According to this week's Newsweek, Karl Rove said something very similar indeed to Time magazine's Matthew Cooper:

In the Cooper e-mails just surrendered by Time to the prosecutor looking into the Plame case, "Cooper wrote that Rove offered him a 'big warning' not to 'get too far out on Wilson.' Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by . . . CIA Director George Tenet . . . or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, 'it was, [Rove] said, Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.' "

Hmmm. Rove warning the press that they could look like idiots if they went too far with Wilson. And events proved ROVE correct.

Wilson lied. Repeatedly.

First off, Wilson long denied he was recommended for the job by his wife: "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," he writes in his book. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

But the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence actually found the memo in which Valerie Plame recommended her husband for the job.

There were other lies as well. Wilson's own report was far from definitive in any way on the question of whether Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger — thus giving the lie to his later bald claim that he came back insisting there was no link.

And further discredit to both Wilson and Plame:

Plame's undercover status at the time was and is a little questionable in any case. How undercover could she have been when her name was published at the time as part of Joseph Wilson's own biography online (see cpsag.com/our_team/wilson.html)?

Worst of all, the US government backed off its Saddam-Niger uranium claims, even though Wilson's "report" was rubbish.

. . . a 2004 British inquiry chaired by Lord Butler [stated]: "We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded."

And yet the Left still thinks that the Bush Administration concocted a smear campaign against Wilson and Plame. What a crock.

UPDATE: As James Taranto shows, the press is quite good at making an a-s of itself:

The lead story in today's New York Times is headlined "At White House, a Day of Silence on Rove's Role in C.I.A. Leak." As the Mediacrity blog notes, this is "too cute," given that the Times has dispatched one of its own reporters to jail so that it can keep silent about what it knows about Rove or some other source.

Of course, there is a difference: The Times is keeping silent because the public has a right to know.

Yesterday's White House press briefing featured a similarly hilarious question from ABC News's Terry Moran to press secretary Scott McClellan:
Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?

The information that Rove has been "caught red-handed peddling" is that Wilson's wife, Plame, engineered his trip to Niger. Wilson denied this when it became public two years ago this week, but it turned out that Rove was telling the truth and Wilson was not. In other words, here we have Moran, a reporter, attacking the White House for providing accurate information to reporters! This is journalism at its best?

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