Roving reporters and the "Politics of Truth"

Who outed Valerie Plame? It’s no secret; it’s Joe Wilson! Joe Wilson outed his wife after sipping mint juleps beside a hotel pool (which he never left, by his own admission) in Niger. He outed his wife when he came back and went on a very public and partisan crusade against President Bush in the run up to war. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame decided to play a cute partisan game and got burned. How many super-secret-CIA-operatives engage in public political battles and then cry wolf?

The fact is that Joe Wilson lied about his trip to Niger and has been completely discredited as a reputable source. The fact that he valued the 'secrecy' of his wife's position so little should be an indication that his outrage and his partisan crusade against Bush is as much about his damaged reputation and pride as it is about his political persuasion.

Joe Wilson claimed that VP Cheney and CIA director Tenent both recommended him for the trip. It was a lie. He said his wife did not recommend him for the trip. It was a lie. He said that there was absolutely no evidence that Saddam ever even attempted, asked, or thought about buying yellowcake in Niger. It was a lie. He claimed that the documents were clearly forgeries because the names and dates were wrong. It was a lie because he never saw the documents, and US officials didn't receive them until eight months after his trip to Niger.

So many things are wrong about what Joe Wilson 'didn't find in Niger' that it defies rationality to say that Rove should be fired for pointing them out.

I once met a CIA 'agent' on the train on the way to Washington DC. If you work at Langley, you're already past your super-double-secret-undercover-operative status. Apparently the only undercover assignment Valerie Plame was working on was the freelance job she and her husband concocted to politically damage Bush.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address. wapo

Is there any reason to believe that Joe Wilson was just minding his own business when the CIA came to him and asked him to perform this vital (unpaid) service? That as a retired ambassador he just happened to be on call for just such a key role in discrediting Bush's 'Rush to War'? The fact that his wife worked in THE office that deals with WMD in Africa was just a coincidence? Why did Joe Wilson feel he needed to lie to reporters and a Senate Committee?

Plame's role could be significant in an ongoing investigation into whether a crime was committed when her name and employment were disclosed to reporters last summer.

Administration officials told columnist Robert D. Novak then that Wilson, a partisan critic of Bush's foreign policy, was sent to Niger at the suggestion of Plame, who worked in the nonproliferation unit at CIA. The disclosure of Plame's identity, which was classified, led to an investigation into who leaked her name.

The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson's bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional.

The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her 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." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

Wilson is a liar who has an political axe to grind. What does he mean when he says he was shocked and outraged by sixteen words in Bush's speech? "After I told him [the President] there was nothing to it?" What a windbag. What a pompous ass. What a fakir and third-rate actor.

Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq -- which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq."

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

See this Robert Novak column as well, for additional info.

Posted by Eric Simonson at July 14, 2005 4:37 AM