July 17, 2005

Marshall's Not Shooting Straight

Glenn:

"When the loudest critics start changing the subject back to their old discredited talking points, well..."

Indeedy. Witness Exhibit A, from TPM:

As Ivo mentioned yesterday evening, whatever the British 'Butler Report' or the Senate (SSCI) report said about the quality of reporting that Iraq had tried to sell uranium Niger, the Iraq Survey Group -- which basically owned Iraq for more than a year -- found that there was no evidence whatsoever that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from anywhere after 1991, let alone from Niger. And for the reasons just stated, the ISG clearly trumps the two earlier reports.

But one might go much further than that. I've discussed over at TPM the various ways that Senate report is intentionally misleading and tendentious. But what of the British Butler Report?

The Butler Report -- in an explicit effort to retrospectively validate the president's '16 words' in the 2003 state of the union -- claimed that the British judgment had not relied on the forged Niger papers. However, there was an earlier British parliamentary inquiry in September 2003 -- before the issue became such a political hot potato. And that report makes clear that most of the British judgment was based on the forged documents. (See a full explanation here).

This is but one example of how the Butler Report and the Senate intel report are political documents. From start to finish.

Josh approvingly links to Ivo Daalder who writes:

In attempting to counter the obvious, Rove's supporters (like the Post editorial page and David Brooks on Lehrer tonite) argue that the reports by Lord Butler and the Senate Intelligence Committee supported earlier intelligence assessments that Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Niger were well founded. But this ignores the definitive judgement on the matter by the Iraqi Survey Group, which concluded as follows last September:

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

The fundamental problem facing the administration and its supporters is that on this, as on all other question relating to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, they were, in the words of David Kay, who initially headed the ISG, "all wrong."

It's one thing to state the obvious, which is that the state of U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq was abysmally wrong on many scores indeed. But Ivo Daalder's post is quite disingenuous, of course. The whole Niger/Africa/uranium hullabaloo had at its very core the hysterical leftist shrieks (Bush lied, People died!) that the '16 Words' of the SOTU were purposeful lies pronounced by POTUS so as to help drag the so gullible, Murdoch-fed ranks of the jingo-fied public into Mesopotamia. So whether the Iraq Survey Group turned up no uranium or such once in Iraq is wholly besides the point vis-a-vis establishing the bona fides of the President's honesty or lack thereof in relation to the contents of the SOTU. It's a total straw man really. But look, we are all capable of Daalder's rather breezy moving of the goal posts to score a partisan point now and again. It happens to the best of us. What really bothers me, however, more than anything Daalder writes, is Josh Marshall's treatment of this matter. He totally impugns the integrity of both the SSCI and the Butler reports ("This is but one example of how the Butler Report and the Senate intel report are political documents. From start to finish.") That's quite a statement, and it well showcases Josh's abject hackery on this issue. No, it's worse. I simply can't avoid the conclusion that Josh Marshall is, very probably, being flat-out dishonest on this issue. He's ignoring so much evidence that disproves his treatment of the matter, and he is too smart to just innocently be 'missing' it, that I must reluctantly conclude he is likely purposefully lying.

First, let us recall that both the Butler Report and the SSCI report were independent, non-partisan investigations (the former led by an independent jurist, the latter a bipartisan effort by the Senate Intelligence Committee). As even that conservative rag (the WaPo!) puts it:

One year after that, reports by two official investigations -- Britain's Butler Commission and the Senate intelligence committee -- demonstrated that Mr. Wilson's portrayal of himself as a whistle-blower was unwarranted. It turned out his report to the CIA had not altered, and may even have strengthened, the agency's conclusion that Iraq had explored uranium purchases from Niger. Moreover, his account had not reached Vice President Cheney or any other senior official. According to the Butler Commission, led by an independent jurist, the assertion about African uranium included in Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech was "well-founded."

So, first off, keep that background in mind when Josh says these are politically biased documents from "start to finish". That arguably the brightest blogger on the left can so easily get away with such comments makes one pause and wonder about the quality of the entire blogosphere, frankly. Again, this was not James Schlesinger investigating Abu Ghraib. You had Jay Rockefeller and all the Democrats on the Senate Intel side. What would have been their motivation to white-wash the record? If anything, guys like Rockefeller were in full-blown gotcha mode trying to establish that Bush had purposefully ignored contrary intelligence and/or lied.

Regardless, Josh has pretty much been forced to piss all over the SSCI and Butler reports because they simply don't support the narrative he peddled assiduously for months last year. The Marshall storyline went that the entire universe of intelligence indicating that Iraq may have been pursuing uranium from Niger/Africa was based on forged documents and so totally compromised. But as I extensively detailed in this blog last year (go here and here) the facts simply didn't (and still don't) support Josh's hyperbolic treatment of the story. Josh then tried to argue that, even if there was alternate intelligence supporting the claim that Iraq tried to get uranium from Africa--evidence that was unrelated to the forgeries--said evidence was still inexorably tainted by linkage to the forgeries (the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' argument). That argument too, proved a red herring. Finally, left with neither the support of the SSCI nor the Butler Report reports, nor the FOPT argument, Josh was forced to resort to a previous British parliamentary report chaired by UK MP Ann Taylor in September 2003. His argument went that this report was drafted before Bush's so infamous SOTU, and so treats the whole Africa and uranium story more head-on and honestly--in other words it's not a political, spin-infused document meant to protect Bush or Blair (recalling that Butler and SSCI were both non-partisan investigations, I need to stress again). Josh writes:

But the key point is that the authors of the earlier report felt free to be candid about what the Butler Report chose to keep hidden -- namely, that most of the British judgment about 'uranium from Africa' was based on the phony documents the Butler Report claims had nothing to do with their judgment.

But even this desperate final argument is simply untrue. As I had written almost a year ago to the day:

For instance, how can Josh say "most of the British judgement about uranium from Africa was based on the phony documents"? Take the September '03 UK Parliamentary Report Marshall is so enthused about. TPM likes it so because it ostensibly makes plainer, as compared to the Butler report, that one of the British intel sources (assorted documentary evidence) was based on the forgeries. But that very same report states unequivocally:

"The SIS stated that the documents did not affect its judgement of its second source and consequently the SIS continues to believe that the Iraqis were attempting to negotiate the purchase of uranium from Niger. We have questioned the SIS about the basis of its judgement and conclude that it is reasonable."

So that's two sources; one ostensibly FOPT tainted and the other not. From this, how does one divine that "most" of the British judgement was based on forgeries? Depends on what the definition of "most" is, I guess.But wait, there's more. Josh neglects to remind us of the Congo finding in the Butler report:

Quoting, at section 499:

"There was further and separate intelligence that in 1999 the Iraqi regime had also made inquiries about the purchase of uranium ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this case, there was some evidence that by 2002 an agreement for a sale had been reached."

Recall, Bush's SOTU referenced Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from Africa generally--not just Niger. So that's three separate sources of intel the Brits had regarding Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium in Africa. One would appear to be FOPT tainted. Two weren't.

Josh's credibility would be bolstered significantly if he accepted that he never struck gold on this story. He tried, tooth and nail, to score a grand slam. He never did. That's OK, and he may have opportunities in the future on other stories. But in life, when you get something wrong, it's good to admit it, hang up your gloves, and move on to the next thing. Instead, Josh appears to prefer to repeat lies to his overly credulous readers. That's really too bad.

Posted by Gregory at July 17, 2005 12:11 AM | TrackBack (51)
Comments

As the villians in the silent movies used to conclude: "Drat's -- foiled again!"

This is at least the third time TPM, Kos and the MSM gang have tried to tie Bush to the railroad track (joe wilson/richard clarke I, Dan Rather's Fortunate Son meme, and now a retread of certified dissembler and media hog wilson), each time they've been left polishing their mustaches. I blame that evil genius Rove!

Posted by: wayne at July 17, 2005 02:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First off, "bipartisan" doesn't mean "not partisan" --- the SSCI was able to issue a report because of "compromise". We saw how partisan the GOP was in its "supplement" that was little more than a partisan smear (based on bad information) by the GOP. The idea that the rest of the conclusions of the report were not the result of political compromise betwen Roberts et. al who wanted to clear the President, and the Democrats wanted to tell the whole story, is simply ridiculous.

And insofar as Butler pretty much ignored the evidence he had in its possession (like the Downing Street documents), to suggest that his conclusions weren't partisan is to ignore basic history.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at July 17, 2005 02:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good points, but I cannot resist a "metaphor alert" ala Opinion Journal

Josh's credibility would be bolstered significantly if he accepted that he never struck gold on this story. He tried, tooth and nail, to score a grand slam. He never did. That's OK, and he may have opportunities in the future on other stories. But in life, when you get something wrong, it's good to admit it, hang up your gloves, and move on to the next thing. Instead, Josh appears to prefer to repeat lies to his too credulous readers. That's really too bad.

Posted by: Regret at July 17, 2005 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Josh Marshall's blog was an idispensible stop for me, until the 2004 election ended. Since then he has become almost unreadable. I loves that he really tried to stay above the sort of petty insults and name-calling in which so many blogs indulge. Then came Social Security and it is non-stop Count Chocola time. I honestly only skim his blog now, and it worries me; the sources of good left-wing comment have been massively reduced (Yglesias seems to be posting a lot less since his move to TPM Cafe too). It's really a shame.

Posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy at July 17, 2005 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is this the crime of the century? No. But its way past time for administration supporters to admit that what was done to Ms. Plame was beyond the political spit ball games that go on in Washington all the time. Instead of trying to smear Wilson and Plame why didn't the administration make its case for a stronger niger/Saddam connection with FACTS instead of trying to discredit Wilson. If B.D. can lay out the facts, why can't Scott McClellan do it too, rather than throw downfield blocks for Rove? The whole covert/not covert minutiae is totally beside the point; Republicans are always accusing Democrats of being unpatriotic--exposing CIA personnel for political reasons seems pretty unpatriotic and should be apologized for, whether its against the law or not.

Posted by: cynical joe at July 17, 2005 07:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cynical -- if you look at what's leaked so far, far from trying to "smear Wilson," the Admin responded to some incredulous reporters queries on Wilson who was well known as a Clinton appointee and who's public statements including NYT op-ed were contradicted by his actual report. Reporters contacted Rove, ostensibly about other matters, then questioned him about Wilson and Plame. They knew already about Plame which isn't surprising since nepotism is always a topic of gossip.

According the Senate Intelligence Committee, when Wilson went to Niger, he spoke with the Minister of Mines who said he had been approached by the Iraqis to purchase uraniam. However, since Iraq was under sanctions he let the matter drop and nothing further happened.

Did Saddam purchase uraniam? No. Did he make at least one attempt to in Wilson's own sworn testimony before the Senate and his own report? Yes. Washington Post about six days ago ran a front page story on him detailing how his testimony under oath in the Senate directly contradicted his interviews with the Post. Guess WaPo (that well known Bush-loving right wing news media) didn't like getting burned by Wilson.

You can draw many interpretations about Saddam trying once, then not again according to available evidence provided by Wilson, in purchasing Uranium. However, that is what Wilson actually reported despite his interviews.

Andrea Mitchell admitted on MSNBC that it was common knowledge that Plame was CIA; she was a "working socialite" who mingled with the smart set after marrying Wilson. She'd been withdrawn from foreign service after Aldrich Ames burned her with the Russians, back in 1997. She contrary to Wilson's interviews, pushed hard for Wilson to be sent to Niger which given her WMD work for the CIA as a staffer was a total conflict of interest in and of itself (nepotism rules). Wilson was on Kerry's campaign staff for a while. He implied that the Vice President and Tenet asked he be sent to Niger (it was his wife who pushed him heavily). Wilson lied about "forged documents" that he caught, since he'd never seen them and they did not enter into US intelligence possession until 8 months after Wilson's report. Both Judith Miller of the NYT and Plame ran in the same circles and worked or reported on WMD issues. Speculation abounds about Miller refusing to testify, if she is protecting Plame, Wilson, or someone like Tenet or Powell.

Wilson is hardly the non-partisan whistle-blower he makes himself out to be. Rove according to leaked testimony from both Rove and Novak, Cooper (Time) told both not to get too far on Wilson cause his trip was a boondoggle and there was still plenty of substantive evidence on Niger.

Regardless, Dems howled when Reps made a fuss about several Senators revealing "black" intelligence projects i.e. spy satellites; in at least one instance Dem Sen Pat Leahy has leaked stuff that got a CIA agent (foreign national working for the CIA) killed and had his clearance pulled; NYT "outed" the CIA's secret airline moving terror suspects around; and more real leaks that really did endanger national security, not the fact that a person listed in the CIA phone book and who worked every day at Langley was once a covert operative.

Rule #1 -- when your husband is a former ambassador writing a high-profile op-ed attacking the Bush Admin, your covert days are over. Particularly if it's common knowledge that you yourself are a former spy among the Washington Press Corps. There will be too much press attention which, unsurprisingly, is inimical to covert status.

The real issue is the ongoing political war between Dem appointees to the CIA from Clinton's era (and also at State) and the President, over basic policy. Wilson has given a speech to at least one Arab-American group where he accused Bush of making War on Iraq to make Israel safe. This is a common problem for the Dems, outright or borderline anti-semitism. It's no accident that Pitchfork Pat Buchanon is their favorite conservative (he's poison to the Republican Party which tasted his witches brew in 1992 and has recoiled ever since).

CIA and State have set themselves at war to revert to the pre-9/11 policy of Scowcroft-Clinton. They have done this while in office and under the pretext of "disinterested civil servants." This is not healthy. At some point a non-Republican President will also face continued mutiny by the same organizations if this continues.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at July 17, 2005 10:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look,
If you want to know whether the Bush administration cooked the intelligence, the clearest example is in the false claim that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for centrifuges.
This was wrong on so many levels---all of which were known at the time---that there is no explanation but lying for the administration's claims.

Now, speaking of hackery, it's more than disingenuous of you to think that you've refuted Josh's arguments by playing gotcha over his possible rhetorical overreach.

Now, you refer to your supposed "refutations" of Josh's arguments last year, in one of which, you refer to a report on the SOTU, defending Bush, but neglecting to mention that Tenet had gotten a similar claim (about uranium) stricken from a speech of Bush the previous October.

Lastly, you have some nearly incoherent screed about Joe Wilson's supposed dishonesty. There is a very simple explanation for
any obfuscation about his wife's role in sending him to Niger (if she had any at all). It is this: since his wife WAS a covert agent, he couldn't very well mention that she recommended him, again, if she did at all. Furthermore, as you very well know, she did not have the rank to send him to Niger. He was qualified for the job, and if his wife recommended him it doesn't make any earthly difference to the facts of the case.

This was a very disappointing post.
I haven't been here for a while, and won't be back soon.

Posted by: marky at July 17, 2005 10:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cynical -- if you look at what's leaked so far, far from trying to "smear Wilson," the Admin responded to some incredulous reporters queries on Wilson who was well known as a Clinton appointee and who's public statements including NYT op-ed were contradicted by his actual report. Reporters contacted Rove, ostensibly about other matters, then questioned him about Wilson and Plame.

Anyone who describes Wilson as a "Clinton appointee" is simply spewing Rove's talking points. Wilson was appointed charge d'affairs for Iraq by a Republican administration, and his heroic efforts in the run up to Gulf War I won him the admiration of the nation----and George H W Bush, who awarded Wilson with his first full ambassadorship. He was a career foreign service officer who served both Democratic and Republican presidents with honor and distinction.

The Rockfords of the world are trying to rewrite history, but it won't wash.

What people seem to forget is that there was no need to mention Valerie Plame at all, if the goal was to "clear the air" about any possible direct involvement by Cheney. All that Rove had to do is point to Wilson's original column, which made it abundantly clear that Cheney was not directly involved in his selection.

And it is that simple fact that tells us that the White House was afraid of Joseph Wilson, and felt that it had to smear him.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at July 17, 2005 11:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marky,

Buh Bye.

Posted by: Billy Hank at July 17, 2005 02:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

If Josh is intererested in deceptive naratives he might well find Mr. Wilson's answers to one of the key Niger questions of interest:

Question:

Did the former Niger prime minister meet with any Iraqi officials in June 1999?

In brief:

1. Wilson says “yes” in March, 2002 during his CIA debrief.

2. Wilson fails to mention the meeting in his July, 2003 NYT op/ed and “Meet the Press” when the story first breaks.

3. Wilson says “no” “Frontline” PBS Interview August 2003.

4. Wilson says “no” twice in October, 2003 during his second “Meet the Press” interview

5. Wilson says “yes” in May, 2004 during his third “Meet the Press” interview

6. Wilson says “yes” to SSCI committee staff in report released July, 2004.

Posted by: Reg at July 17, 2005 02:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think that the picture Marshall uses on his site tells you all you need to know about him. What kind of a person would think that picture reflects favorably on him?

Posted by: E. Verban at July 17, 2005 02:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm calling for an investigation!! We need an investigation of Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson and others unknown in the CIA and the State Department, who have used their official positions to betray their trust and attempt to undermine government policy, approved by Congress and influence the election.

Joe Wilson was out to steal my vote and make it not count. I support the War on Terror. I support the Afghanistan front, I back our troops in the Battle for Iraq. We have Plame, Wilson and others in the CIA and State Department, who are trying to have those efforts, which have been ratified by the Congress and by the American People in the 2002, 2004 elections. Plame/Wilson are trying to undermine those decisions by their sneaky, back-stabbing, dishonest and discreditable methods with the help of sneaky, dishonest, back-stabbing, discreditable, dishonorable and agenda-driven liberal (oh, I'm being redundant) media.

Let's investigate the Plame/Wilson connection to the NY Times, to the DNC, to the Kerry Campaign and who knows who. I'm getting really sick at the back-stabbing scumbags in our midst. Let's investigate.

Posted by: Jabba the Tutt at July 17, 2005 03:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marky-

"If you want to know whether the Bush administration cooked the intelligence, the clearest example is in the false claim that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for centrifuges."

I don't claim to have much knowledge of the aluminum tubes issue, but if what you say is true, why didn't the "Bush lied" crowd run with that rather than the yellowcake story? Regardless, the issue at hand is yellowcake, so this is rather beside the point.

"since his wife WAS a covert agent"

Not since 1997 at the latest, according to Honest Joe himself. And he could've simply not mentioned who caused him to be sent, rather than falsely implying his trip was at the behest of the VP. Finally, he denied his wife's involvement in his selection long after her identity was known.

If the issue is whether the "16 words" were truthful or not, the SSCI has spoken (that the report was a compromise does not alter this fact. Rockefeller and the other dems would not have let the administration off easy by agreeing to language unsupported by their findings).

If the issue is whether or not Rove leaked Plame's name/identity, that is a factual issue which doesn't turn on whether or not the administration, or Joe Wilson, has or hasn't lied about any number of things.

Posted by: Buzz Crutcher at July 17, 2005 03:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

E Verban: Seriously, I see that photo and all I can think is "douchebag, douchebag, douchebag." It's not exactly flattering.

Posted by: Timothy at July 17, 2005 03:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Bush was consiously cooking the evidence why did we find no WMD's in Iraq. Not one roll of Reynolds' wrap. ..and how easy would it have been to plant evidence? Line up all the Iraqi scientists ala LAPD, drop a dimebag of Anthrax and claim it fell out of someone's pocket? Everyone will admit there was a certain level of postwar planning lacking from the Administration but I give them enough credit to believe they could have planted something if they honestly knew there was none to be found.

Posted by: smithlevel at July 17, 2005 03:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

THe Bush administration is so hypocritical and shallow, and they can get away with it because they can count on legions of yes men in the blogosphere and the medis to do their spinning for free. Honestly, if it was no big deal why didn't Rove admit it 2 years and Bush said he would fire the leaker? I wonder how many conservatives left who actually have any principles as opposed to the legions of spineless hacks who make excuses for anything Bush does.

Posted by: Jake at July 17, 2005 03:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Are we all missing another "Africa" connection? I heard the echoes of the SOTU speech when Khaddafi voluntarily quit his nuclear program on the day after Saddam's arrest. Did Khaddafi feel the 16 words were aimed at him? Did he think Saddam would sing like the caged bird? Surely, had Saddam been arrested by Lybians he would be very forthcoming with confessions.

Posted by: Burt at July 17, 2005 03:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cynical Joe:

"The whole covert/not covert minutiae is totally beside the point; Republicans are always accusing Democrats of being unpatriotic--exposing CIA personnel for political reasons seems pretty unpatriotic and should be apologized for, whether its against the law or not."

Neat trick, "exposing" a non-covert government employee. No wonder you guys are so scared of Rove. I'd be scared too, if I was so paranoid as to believe that my opponents could do the logically impossible.

Can Karl Rove make a rock so big even he can't lift it?

In fact, Joe, the "covert/non-covert" distinction (and the related allegations of criminal activity) is what this entire non-scandal has always been about. So leave those goalposts where they are and admit that your side blew it again.

Posted by: ScottM at July 17, 2005 03:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It seems that the "right" wants to ignore some basic points - no surprise there!

1. The "liberals" didn't start this - it was the CIA that referred this to the Justice Department. I simply assume that the CIA knows who is covert or not, and they also know better than any else that damage has been done. Otherwise, they would not have asked Ashcroft to pursue this matter.

2. By any standard in the real world (though not necessarily in Bushworld), what Rove did is gutter dwelling garbage. This is slimy politics at its worst - and straight out of the Bush White House. It is truly fun watching the "honesty and integrity" crown defend Rove's actions.

3. Ashcroft thought this was a serious matter. If not, he would have whitewashed it and that would have been the end of it. Add to that the fact that he thought highly enough of the seriousness of the matter to pick a highly regarded prosecutor to pursue the matter - not a partisan like Ken Starr. Kudos to Ashcroft for putting country before party loyalty!!!!

4. Regarding the hype leading to war in Iraq, Bush may not have lied outright, but he relied on the "Limbaugh" standard of truth on too many claims. That is, 2% true is good enough that it is not an outright lie, and its good enough for Limbaugh to put on the air - or for Bush to put in the State of the Union address. I will never believe that this White House did not recognize that the aluminum tube claims could not surpass the 2% true test. How about the "stealth boats off our coast that could strike at any time", or the remote airplanes that can spread chemical and biological weapons for thousands of miles, or the mobile biological labs? How many other examples could be listed here? Dozens?

This is about basic honesty and integrity. There was none to be found in the lead up to war - a war of choice (as opposed to Afghanistan). This White House had none, and Rove fits in perfectly.

Rove may not be a traitor, but he is a pig! And a good Republican!

Posted by: Mark-NC at July 17, 2005 04:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marhsall is clearly not the only left whinger with trouble admitting that they failed.

Posted by: Josh at July 17, 2005 04:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jake --

"Bush said he would fire the leaker." That's your spin. What Bush said is fairly interpreted as saying he would fire anyone who broke the law or released classified information. And spare me the bandwith abuse of cut-and-pasted press conference transcripts; I've read 'em. While the facts we have don't yet rule it out, neither do they particularly support the claim that Rove did either one of those things.

"[I]f it was no big deal why didn't Rove admit it 2 years [ago?]" It seems Rove did admit it, to those who counted -- the members of the grand jury. As for why he didn't admit it to the press -- well, if the current media frenzy (and those same press conference transcripts, with their put-the-answer-into-your-mouth questions by a supposedly "objective" -- and in reality hostile -- press corps) don't make the answer to that question obvious, you're beyond my (or anyone's) help.

Posted by: Tom O'Bedlam at July 17, 2005 04:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If refuting hysterical allegations, by using info that is available to everyone including those making the allegations, makes one a "hack" or a "yes men", I guess I'm guilty as charged.

Perhaps the word "hack" is better directed at someone who's stance on Iraq and WMDs depends on who is in the White House at the moment (see 1998 quotes from Kennedy, KKK Byrd, et al.)

"Hack" might also be better directed at an organization such as Moveon.org, which was founded to oppose the impeachment of a man who had clearly commited a felony, but 7 years later is calling for the firing of someone who may or may not have done something (and let's not wait for the evidence) that is almost certainly not a crime, regardless of who did it.

It could even be directed at the so-called mainstream media. Click the link below for a link to a 2000 ABC News report on the many links between Saddam and terrorists (including OBL), links they seem to have forgotten since GWM became president.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/011045.php

Posted by: Buzz Crutcher at July 17, 2005 04:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mark,

You are so right. Aluminum tubes used to make centrifuges? Who is this nut case who expects us to believe that? Remember that fantasy about hijacking planes and flying them into the World Trade Center? Who could possibly believe that? What fools! And then there’s the fantasy of Englishmen from Leeds blowing up trains and busses in London. What kind of fools do they take us for?

Oh …. Never mind.

Posted by: moneyrunner at July 17, 2005 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Ashcroft thought this was a serious matter. If not, he would have whitewashed it

So, the fact that Ashcroft did not stoop to whitewashing evidence is evidence of malfeasance?

Wow. If the admin does something good, it's bad. Heads I win, tails you lose.

Posted by: Reid at July 17, 2005 05:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mark-NC:

The "liberals" didn't start this - it was the CIA that referred this to the Justice Department. I simply assume that the CIA knows who is covert or not, and they also know better than any else that damage has been done. Otherwise, they would not have asked Ashcroft to pursue this matter.

As I argue here, George Tenet is statutorily obligated to refer possible crimes to the FBI for investigation. He had every reason to do so because there was a prima facie case that a leak had occurred ---and in a high-profile way.

Ashcroft thought this was a serious matter. If not, he would have whitewashed it and that would have been the end of it. Add to that the fact that he thought highly enough of the seriousness of the matter to pick a highly regarded prosecutor to pursue the matter - not a partisan like Ken Starr. Kudos to Ashcroft for putting country before party loyalty!!!!

When are the anti-Bush people going to admit that there's been no hiding or avoiding anything in this matter? Everybody in the WH who might possibly have had a hand in this agreed to talk to Fitzgerald a year and a half ago. That includes Rove, who has testified before the grand jury three times now and who has now signed two different waivers of confidentiality. This is a guy with something to hide? Nonsense.

At some point, the lies of Joe Wilson are going to start penetrating the minds of the average citizen ---and we will once again see the Democrats lose their credibility on issues of national security.

Posted by: Toby Petzold at July 17, 2005 05:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post Gregory, thanks for sharing.

This comment thread is an interesting commentary on the 'sphere. It goes a long way toward explaining why Marhsall continues to make counterfactual claims. Clearly, emotion is clounding reason and his supporters just add to the miasma with their rah-rahs.

So much for "reality-based."

Posted by: TallDave at July 17, 2005 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
That is, 2% true is good enough that it is not an outright lie

Les jeux sont fait! The stakes: 100's of thousands or more dead Americans. Odds: 98%. Would you gamble those odds based on that stake? I sure as hell wouldn't.

Let's put that in context. This gun has a 50 round cylinder with at least one bullet that you know of. Put it to your head and pull the trigger. If you survive, there is no additional reward. If you die, you die.

Posted by: Reid at July 17, 2005 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Put it to your head and pull the trigger.

If you play, you will have to play again. Or, you can swat the gun away, get up and walk away and, never have to play again.

Posted by: Reid at July 17, 2005 05:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Josh is a voice DNC and Democrats all over the Globe. He cannot say he made a mistake or made an error about Bush. That would threaten the money he gets to keep up with his elegant, Starbucked-enhanced, life-style in DuPont Circle. No Sirree, Bob. No way, Jose. You gotta accept that Josh will play like his playing - hand-waving all dirt under the rug. That's how you become a liberal academic like Josh (a recent Brown PHD).

AKB

Posted by: Ali Karim Bey at July 17, 2005 05:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here is some background on the "similar language" that the CIA struck from Bush's Oct 7 speech in Cinncinnati:

U) On October 4, 2002, the NSC sent a draft of a speech they were preparing for the President to deliver in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was draft six of the speech and contained the line, "and the regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa - an essential ingredient in the enrichment process."

...(U) Based on the analyst's comments, the ADDI drafted a memo for the NSC outlining the facts that the CIA believed needed to be changed, and faxed it to the Deputy National Security Advisor and the speech writers. Referring to the sentence on uranium from Africa the CIA said, "remove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory."

I think that Josh Marshall has become political pundits version of the old Copernicians, who strained to make all their data fit the premise that the Earth was the center of the universe.

In this case, Josh's central, orienting premise is that Bush lied. All other data is incidental, and gets twisted as necessary to fit into that larger truth.


Posted by: Tom Maguire at July 17, 2005 06:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Josh has a bad habit of attempting the big scoop that never pans out and then has a nasty habit of ignoring his massive failures. This is nothing new, its a major reason to ignore most of his work in my opinion. Someone who can't be honest with himself will have an even greater difficulty being honest with others.

Posted by: Gabriel Chapman at July 17, 2005 06:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In fact, Marshall's post is even more disingenuous than BD and the anti-Marshall comments indicate. Only a few months after Wilson's op-ed, Marshall interviewed Wilson and discovered that, in fact, Wilson had discovered evidence which, in Wilson's own estimation and in the estimation of the Nigerian officials, indicated that Saddam did attempt to obtain yellowcake from Niger.

Since this was the first time Wilson admitted this publically, it would have been quite a scoop for any journalist with integrity. But Marshall never did a story or even a blog post on the revelation. Instead, he just posted the interview on his blog without comment. Now, Marshall re-prints a misleading comment that the ISG failed to find evidence of Iraq's attempts to obtain yellowcake in support of the contention that the Butler report and Intelligence Committee report were political documents.

The fact that the ISG did not find evidence of Iraqi attempts to obtain yellowcake is a signficant fact to be considered when evaluating the work of the ISG. However, the ISG's failure to find such evidence is obviously not proof that such evidence does not exist. Like British Intelligence we have a "second source", his name is Joe Wilson.

Posted by: bmcburney at July 17, 2005 06:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I have been reading Josh Marshall and the TPMCafe for a while. I thought they offered an intelligent presentation of the Liberal perspective, far from just the "Bush lied; people died" approach of Daily Kos. Josh seemed to offer intelligent, honest and articulate posts.

However, recent postings on both webesites have raised serious questions in my mind as to my prior judgement. His and Ivo Daaler's attacks on the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report and the report of Lord Butler's Committee indicate either lack of serious reading of the material, lack of ability to understand straightforward material or simply partisan blindness.

Very disappointing.

"The following is what I posted yesterday to one of Josh's postings at TPMCafe:

Josh Marshall: However, there was an earlier British parliamentary inquiry in September 2003 -- before the issue became such a political hot potato. And that report makes clear that most of the British judgment was based on the forged documents.

September 2003 Report: The SIS stated that the documents did not affect its judgment of its second source and consequently the SIS continues to believe that the Iraqis were attempting to negotiate the purchase of uranium from Niger. We have questioned the SIS about the basis of its judgement and conclude that it is reasonable. (emphasis in original, par. 93)

To look further at the September 2003 Report, "We were told that it [conclusions that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger] came from two independent sources, one of which was based on documentary evidence." (Report, par. 89)

Even if this or something else can be interpreted as suggesting that the documents somehow provided "most" of the support for the conclusion, independent evidence existed that British intelligence believed supported their conclusion to which the September 2003 Report found reasonable.

Thus, the less "political" report reached the same conclusion as the more "political" Lord Butler Report. Regardless of when the forged documents came into the knowledge of British intelligence adequate independent information existed that provided the basis of assessments that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger.

Josh dismisses the Senate report as "intentionally misleading and tendentious." The bipartisan report was written by a committee that included Senators John D. Rockefeller IV, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein, Richard Durbin, John Edwards. Does anyone seriously suggest that these Senators signed an "intentionally misleading and tendentious" document to exonerate the CIA and Administration?

Anyone who rejects the conclusions of the Senate Report, the Butler report and the 2003 Report has to face one simple point. Niger exports uranium (65% of its exports), livestock products, cowpeas and onions. Does anyone seriously think that the Iraqi delegation that traveled to Iraq in 1999 to "discuss 'expanding commercial relations' between Niger and Iraq" really sought to buy onions rather than uranium?

Cheers."


Needless to say, it did not get a very warm reception.

Posted by: Abu El Banat at July 17, 2005 06:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The bottom line is that we do not know who the root source was as Ms. Miller is still in jail. Maybe Rove made an error in judgement by confirming Ms. Plame's involvement, but there is no evidence that he was the one who outed her.

It's funny, the progressives claim to be the educated and enlightened ones, but they let their hate for Bush and Rove cloud their judgement. Whatever happened to Harry Truman democrats?

Posted by: Horst Graben at July 17, 2005 07:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

From Mark-NC we have this:

"By any standard in the real world (though not necessarily in Bushworld), what Rove did is gutter dwelling garbage."

How do we know EXACTLY what Rove did or didn't do yet? On what basis?

Posted by: Kendall Harmon at July 17, 2005 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If the White house is exhonerated in the Fitzgerald investigation, I suppose to some people it will still be a "whitewash"

Posted by: Chuck Betz at July 17, 2005 08:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Toby Petzold:

You are correct, Geroge Tenet was obligated. "He had every reason to do so because there was a prima facie case that a leak had occurred ---and in a high-profile way." You make my point for me - just much more effectively.

Reid & Toby Petzold:

It was referred to Ashcroft - a close friend of the Bush team. If this was nothing but politics as usual, it would have ended there!! Unless you believe Ashcroft pursued this as a partisan attack.

moneyrunner:

The aluminum tube "story" was immediately called impossible by the scientists who knew more about it than the politicians who pushed the story. They said there is absolutely no way these aluminum tubes could be used for a centrifuge! Did the Bush team lie?

Condeleeza Rice (September 8, 2002): You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance—into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to—high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.

Reality: Gas centrifuge experts consulted by the U.S. government said repeatedly for more than a year that the aluminum tubes were not suitable or intended for uranium enrichment. By December 2002, the experts said new evidence had further undermined the government's assertion. The Bush administration portrayed the scientists as a minority and emphasized that the experts did not describe the centrifuge theory as impossible.

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A39500-2003Aug9¬Found=true)

Kendall Harmon:

You could be right, but Rove has already admitted a part in this. If it is just politics, and outing Plame (if indeed she was still considered undercover, or hiding her past was considered important) was accidental, then, at best, this is sliming Wilson's wife to get back at Wilson. Not a pretty sight for the "we are restoring honesty and integrity to the White House" crowd!

Just wondering. Do any of you on the "right" care about where the forged documents came from? Or is it considered liberal or anti-Bush to ask such questions?

Posted by: Mark-NC at July 17, 2005 08:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think bmcburney's comment above is very apt. Joe Wilson went to Niger, and found out that an Iraqi commercial affairs officer had been there in 1999. Niger has two exports, yellowcake and goats, and Iraq already has plenty of goats. How did he come to the conclusion that he had discredited the Bush meme other than by an all-consuming partisanship?

Posted by: wayne at July 17, 2005 08:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Re: Marshall's stupid photo. A few year's ago I had a series of email exchanges with Josh in which I made sure to bust his minature balls about that bizarre nasal-angle pic. All of a sudden, he removÄ

Posted by: Ken at July 17, 2005 08:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I love the way the left changes its party line as their falsehoods are exposed.

Now they're down to claiming that Rove "slimed" Plame by telling people that she worked for the CIA.

Why that qualifies as "slime" frankly eludes me, but then I'm not part of the "reality-based community."

Posted by: ScottM at July 17, 2005 09:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Now, when someone says that Saddam "never tried to obtain uranium from Niger," do they ever try to define how long "never" really is?

This stuff was imported by Saddam's Iraq. We cleared it out to prevent WMD-equipped IEDs (Well, for the most part. This one was a WMD IED, but it didn't cause much "MD").

Saddam imported uranium, probably from Niger, but at an earlier date, probably in the 1980s. Despite the lefitist inability to see anything prior to Bush first inaugration, never is indeed a mighty long time.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 17, 2005 09:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Abu--

Nice post.

Josh & Co. really don't care whether there is exculpatory evidence. The left is all pathos and no logos. They believe that Bush's motives are always evil and base and theirs are always high-minded and pure. Thus, rather than starting with the evidence and working forward to the logical analysis, they begin with the analysis (Bush is always wrong) and keep tossing out variables until those that deliver the answer they want are all that remains.

More ominous for the fools who keep amping up the volume with each little manufactured "scandal," is the "crying wolf" syndrome. As these little la-dee-das fall away one by one, their ability to shape opinion of the mainstream electorate diminishes further. Preaching to the choir may be self-satisfying, but it seldom wins elections.

What the left needs to realize is that is facing a formidable, principled president who always tries do what he thinks is right. Far from being beholden to special interests or polls, he is his own man. This has been the case from the beginning, and it will be the case three years from now. Ultimately, Bush will be judged very fairly by history, while these scurrillous criticisms will be seen for what they are: the sour grapes of an embittered, reactionary minority.

Posted by: Fresh Air at July 17, 2005 10:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for the laughs!

Posted by: ha haha ha at July 17, 2005 10:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Karl Rove: 'Yea I heard that too.'
Democrats and Media: BURN HIM!!!!

That about sums up this media manufactured controversy. Like the ones before it, it will go nowhere. The only lasting effect is that the NYT/WaPo/CNN viewership will become a smaller, more reflective echo chamber.

Posted by: Ed Wood at July 17, 2005 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"First, let us recall that both the Butler Report and the SSCI report were independent, non-partisan investigations (the former led by an independent jurist, the latter a bipartisan effort by the Senate Intelligence Committee)."

I wouldn't say that the SSCI investigation was non-partisan. Remember the Democrat memo* from 2003 that set out the Democrats' explicit desire to use this investigation politically. The Democrats had clearly already formed their conclusions at a time when the investigation had just gotten under way and they were strategizing how to use it for maximum political benefit. So much for the public's interest. While that wasn't a particularly surprising revelation, the memo served as documentary evidence of what everyone suspected. The remarkable thing is that any information favorable to the Bush Administration made it to the final report. The SSCI report was definitely politicized, but not in the way that Josh Marshall fantasizes.

Also, one of the commenters above said in reference to the SSCI that "bi-partisan" doesn't mean "non-partisan" which is true, but that is a two way street. The findings in the main body of the report may have been part of a compromise, but look at the section written by Chairman Pat Roberts. He cites many uncontroverted facts undermining Wilson and bosltering several Administration claims, but the Democrats refused to allow them in the main body of the report.


*The text of the memo is reprinted here.
[http://www.phillysonline.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=78]
and see this article: [http://cshink.com/democratic_memo.htm]

Posted by: PT at July 18, 2005 12:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mark-NC wrote

Just wondering. Do any of you on the "right" care about where the forged documents came from? Or is it considered liberal or anti-Bush to ask such questions?
We know where the documents came from - the French - who were in bed with Sadaam. They were passed to an Italian journalist and eventually made their way to the US embassy in Rome almost eight months after Wilson claimed they were used to buttress the claim for the Iraqis looking for uranium.

The CIA had intelligence indicating that Iraq has also sought uranium in the Congo and in Somalia, not just Niger, and Bush's SOTU address stated accurately that the Iraqis were seeking uranium in Africa.

All of these are easily obtained facts to anyone who cares to know the truth.

BTW Mark-NC, don't take anyone else's words for truth. Find out for yourself. For example, if you want to know whether or not Wilson is a partisan hack (as some claim he is) read his own words written before he went to Niger (and yet he claims that he didn't speak out until October 2003!)

Posted by: antimedia at July 18, 2005 02:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mark? Just as a side-bar. Did it not occur to you that Hussein thought that the alum tubes that he purchased (illegally, I might add) were for use in a reactor? What does that have to do with whether or not they could be?

Posted by: Tommy G at July 18, 2005 02:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If I can say a word in defense of Josh, he did get the Duke Cunningham story mostly right. I don't disagree with people who insist that he has been in full campaign mode for a while now, perhaps looking over his shoulder a little for the more zealous partisans on his own side. Bloggers like Josh and Kevin Drum generate more outrage and passion from liberals when they hint at dissent from the Party's message of the day than Dan Drezner got from conservatives when he announced he was voting for Kerry. But contributions toward reducing the amount of deadwood in Congress are too seldom made and deserve to be acknowledged.

On the subject of deadwood, I can understand some of the arguments being made here in defense of Karl Rove, in that -- based on the public evidence we have -- it seems unlikely he violated statute law. He took a bad story for the administration and tried to address it the way he has often done throughout his career, by striking at a prominent critic. Clinton's people did the same kind of thing frequently, though they usually did it in public. So while what Rove seems to have done falls well short of the "honor and integrity"/"changing the tone" standard, it doesn't represent anything radically new.

What I don't really understand is the passion. I don't mean the passionate dislike of reds by blues and vice versa. I mean the passion behind the defenses of Rove personally. Let's face it, the guy is just a campaign consultant: hired help. There are dozens of people in Washington who can do what he does for candidates -- maybe not many could have done what he did for Bush over the years, but Bush won't be running for anything again. Rove is the past. He doesn't embody any principles vital to the Republican Party's future or possess any skills that the GOP can't do without or find somewhere else.

Rove is expendable. Bush's loyalty to his cronies, which well outstrips his loyalty to just about anyone or anything else, is one thing. But Bush at least as good reason to feel indebted to Rove. Apart from people who owe their Washington jobs to his patronage or recommendation, other Republicans don't. So if this Fitzgerald fellow turns out to be investigating an aspect of this story we don't know about yet or it turns out Rove did something worse than it now appears he did, well, life will go on.

Posted by: JEB at July 18, 2005 03:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

Help me out here.

You cite two untainted British intel reports even though, in Oct/02, the Deputy DCI testified that British intel on uranium from Africa was "stretched."

"We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible," he said, according to the SSCI report.

According to the Brits, Iraq made inquiries to buy uranium from the Congo in 1999, but, five years later, the best the Butler Report could do was to describe that intelligence as "inconclusive."

Still, the Butler Report asserted that Bush's 16 words were "well-founded," even though, a year earlier, George Tenet, in his public statement on the matter, described the inclusion of those words as "troubling" and "a mistake."

Tenet said that just because the Brits said it, the intel "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for Presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

Now, you continue to use British sources to defend the accuracy of Bush's 16 words, while commending the SSCI report for being "independent" and "non-partisan."

But, according to that report, in June/03 "nearly five months after the President delivered the State of the Union address, the CIA produced a memorandum for the DCI which said, 'since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false documents earlier this spring, we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad.'"

If the CIA no longer believes the Brits, why do you? Do you know something, the CIA doesn't?


Posted by: whats4lunch at July 18, 2005 04:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't see how conclusions as to the indpendence and non-partisanship of the SSCI report can be given, seeing as how the report remains only half completed.

I suggest we wait for the rest of it to be finished.

I'm sure Senator Roberts will have it any day now.

Everyone should be able to wait that long.

Posted by: SamAm at July 18, 2005 05:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The amount of prejudging of Rove should make any thinking Democrat cringe.......you idiots know of whom I speak...what a sad lot.

Posted by: Jim at July 18, 2005 05:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is there anyting later than the 1999 approach from Iraq to Niger that qualifies as "recently sought"? If Butler didn't see the Downing Street minutes he was being conventionally responsible and placing the onus of proof in favour of officialdom against dissidents. If he did see them, he proved himself to have been an astute appointment. If Rice & Tenet agree that the "16 words" should not have been included as Wilson alleged, citation of Butler does not impress, no matter how much Wilson may have overshot.

Feith makes it plain that Iraq was scarcely about WMD. Who cares what Wilson, Marshall, Djerejian or Butler say about Blair's fig leaf?

Wilson could be a pathological liar, Plame could be an inside-CIA plotter against the White House, Marshall might be a raving loony, the White House could have been leaking to quell nonsense rather than to deter whistleblowers, but the questions are:

1. who blew Brewster-Jennings & Associates, all its NOCs and all their contacts, past and present?

2. why blow that cover in order to buttress an admittedly mostly-specious rationale for the invasion?

nb - None of the above has anything to say one way or the other about whether Iraq should have been invaded. A great notion speciously explained and incompetently conducted can still remain a great notion.

Posted by: AlanDownUnder at July 18, 2005 05:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

antmedia writes: "don't take anyone else's words for truth. Find out for yourself. For example, if you want to know whether or not Wilson is a partisan hack (as some claim he is) read his own words written before he went to Niger (and yet he claims that he didn't speak out until October 2003!)"

Check your facts.

That column was written in 2003, not bfore he went to Niger.

Wilson went to Niger in 2002. A year before he wrote that column.

Posted by: Jon H at July 18, 2005 06:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Never has one man worked so hard, in front of any camera that would stand still, to "out" his own wife.

That should make any thinking person wonder why. That man had to work hard. Think it was just a little domestic spat?

Posted by: owl at July 18, 2005 07:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's keep the wingnuts honest (a hopeless undertaking, no doubt) regarding their assertion that Wilson admitted his wife was not covert.

First, he made a single ambiguous staement that wingnuts ran with. Here is the correct that removes ambiguity:

From the July 14 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:


BLITZER: But the other argument that's been made against you is that you've sought to capitalize on this extravaganza, having that photo shoot with your wife (in the January 2004 Vanity Fair magazine), who was a clandestine officer of the CIA, and that you've tried to enrich yourself writing this book and all of that.


What do you make of those accusations, which are serious accusations, as you know, that have been leveled against you?


WILSON: My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.


BLITZER: But she hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before that?


WILSON: That's not anything that I can talk about. And, indeed, I'll go back to what I said earlier, the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed, and that's why they referred it to the Justice Department.


She was not a clandestine officer at the time that that article in Vanity Fair appeared.


And as Media Matters for America has documented, multiple press outlets reported that Plame was an undercover CIA operative at the time Novak wrote his column. Note: After this item was written, but before it was posted, the AP corrected its error. New versions of the article read:


In an interview on CNN earlier Thursday before the latest revelation, Wilson kept up his criticism of the White House, saying Rove's conduct was an "outrageous abuse of power ... certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House."


Wilson also said "my wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity."


In an interview Friday, Wilson said his comment was meant to reflect that his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand.


Though the AP ran a correction, other news outlets had already repeated its mistake. CNN's Ed Henry told viewers that "Wilson himself suggested that she was not undercover." The Drudge Report link to the AP story suggested the same thing, and numerous other news outlets picked up the AP article.


------


Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Media Matters for America is the first organization to systematically monitor the media for conservative misinformation every day, in real time. For more information, visit http://www.mediamatters.org.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Posted by: avedis at July 18, 2005 08:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"....in Oct/02, the Deputy DCI testified that British intel on uranium from Africa was 'stretched.'"

I think it's kind of funny how Bush critics/haters give so much credence to pre-war statements made by CIA personnel who had something critical to say about the Bush Administration and its claims about Iraq. In October 2002, the CIA didn't know squat about Iraq. In "Plan of Attack", Bob Woodward interviewed the chief of the CIA's Iraqi Operations Group who told him that "the CIA reporting sources inside of Iraq were pretty thin...There were four. And those sources were in Iraqi ministries such as foreign affairs and oil that were on the periphery of any penetration of Saddam's inner circle." Prior to the war, the IOG was known within the CIA as "The House of Broken Toys". Woodward said that "It was largely populated with new, green officers and problem officers, or old boys waiting for retirement..." That means that the Deputy DCI was making definitive statements that he didn't have any business making on subjects that he didn't know much about.

I'm not sure why lefties are so sure that Lord Butler's report was a whitewash, but it was conducted after the war so it had the benefit of hindsight in regard to all the evidence it reviewed and the second source (i.e other than the forged documents) was deemed to be credible. We don't know who that source was, but if the only counter evidence that you can muster is a three year old statement of a CIA officer then that's pretty lame. I'll take Lord Butler over our CIA anytime. According to the British (and the findings of Joe Wilson), the Deputy DCI was wrong in 2002 and he's still wrong.

Also, lest anyone be so naive, the mere fact that the CIA referred this to the Justice Department doesn't mean they really think a crime was committed. When this whole thing flared up in 2003, Howard Fineman wrote an article detailing the animus within the CIA towards the Bush Administration. [http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3129935/] Does anyone seriously doubt that they might have referred this to Justice because they wanted to inflict political damage on Bush? It's the CIA for chrissakes. Do you think this would be the first time they had ever conducted a disinformation campaign? The referral to Justice doesn't mean anything.

Posted by: PT at July 18, 2005 10:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

With regard to the claim: "When the loudest critics start changing the subject back to their old discredited talking points [it means they're losing the debate]"

I think it's interesting a rehash of the 16 words leads back to another rehash of the aluminum tubes.

So. is returning to the claim that changing the subject is admitting error -- a change of subject? Do I thereby admit that Joe Wilson is an honest and honorable patriot?

I dunno.

I wanna change the subject again, though.

I'm getting more an more discouraged by the media "rules" about what constitutes confirmation. I hear that the IG is gonna burn some general at Gitmo and I call my favorite admiral and he tells me, "Yep, that's the rumor -- nobody ever liked General X anyway. " Now to me that suggests that the rumor is FALSE, that General X is routinely the target of malicious rumors because his personality offends his peers. But apparently a bigtime journalist would take this as meaning the rumor is TRUE -- if Admiral Y is hearing the same rumor there must be some fire beneath the smoke.

On the other hand if I hear that Syria is hiding the Iraqi Baathist WMDs and I call Admiral Y and he tells me -- "There are indications from both CIA and NSA channels that suggest that, but we don't have enough hard HumInt from sources in Syria to justify a raid against the facility outside Damascus where we think they might be..." Then I would suppose the rumor were TRUE. But the bigtime media journalist would then seem inclined to publish a headline screaming "SYRIA CLEAN --NO EVIDENCE FOR IRAQI NUKES!"

And then if Karl Rove were to tell the big time media journalist that Admiral Y may not be privy to everything being considered at the White House the headlines would clamor "ROVE BURNS NAVY HERO!"

I'm just tired of it, you see.


Posted by: Pouncer at July 18, 2005 02:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm no Wilson fan, but I thought it was obvious from the Blitzer transcript that Wilson meant that Plame was not covert beginning the day the Novak article came out. (IIRC, Wilson is actually very coy about whether she was covert before that date).

I don't know how everyone got the idea that Wilson admitted she wasn't covert before the Novak article came out - the transcript clearly doesn't say that.

Posted by: J Mann at July 18, 2005 02:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Josh Marshall is the "never ending story" blogger. Before I read his posts I scroll down to search for "more on that later", "big story on that later", "more later" to see if he's finally organized his lies to try and tell the truth. Unfortunately, like a drug addict, his one mistake leads to another dilemna is impossbile to shake at this point. He's now joined the blog for a living brigades. Audience trumps accuracy.

Can I call him mainstream media now?

Posted by: Brennan Stout at July 18, 2005 05:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I realized Josh and Ivo Daalder were hacks some time ago. Just the title of Josh's blog "Talking Points Memo" says it all. It is not about getting to the truth, it's about giving talking points so you can win arguments and convince people, irrespective of the truth.

Posted by: Graham Rhodes at July 18, 2005 08:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

PT,

I'm pretty sure it is the business of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence to make definitive statements (and offer opinions) on intelligence reports.

Again, is there something you know, that he did not? I'm pretty sure the Deputy DCI already knew the CIA lacked assets in Iraq. But the intelligence in question was coming from Africa, not Iraq.

Although you offer no evidence that MI6 had penetrated Saddam's inner circle either, you proudly cherry-pick the Brits, with your "I'll take Lord Butler over our CIA anytime."

Special relationship indeed (and by that I mean "special" in the Special Olympics sense.)

You defend the Butler Report because "it was conducted after the war so it had the benefit of hindsight," (the war is still on, BTW) while ignoring the fact that the CIA memo I cite above, Tenet's mea culpa, and the report of the Iraq Survey Group noted by Gregory, were all written after Bush's flight deck photo op. (That is what you mean, by "after the war," right?)

One would think that - given the fall of Baghdad, the seizure of various government office and palaces and the ongoing puncture of Saddam's inner circle - evidence of Iraq's pursuit of uranium from abroad would be forthcoming. If it exists, I say, "Bring it on!"

But instead of evidence vindicating Bush's 16 words, we get RNC talking points detailing the lies of Joe Wilson.

Lame indeed (and by that I mean "lame" in the "lame duck" sense.

(What the hell, as a post script I'll be charitable and take the line offered by the SSCI, namely that until Oct/02, when the IC obtained the forged uranium deal documents, it was reasonable to assume that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa. But anything after that was just incompetence and a failure of leadership. Oh, and PT, your beloved Brits had such good intelligence, they didn't even learn of the existence of those documents until early 2003. Brilliant! )

Posted by: whats4lunch at July 18, 2005 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...the old Copernicians, who strained to make all their data fit the premise that the Earth was the center of the universe."

Funny lot those old Copernicians. They called themselves Ptolemians or Aristotelians. Perhaps you're grasping for pre-Copernicans?

In any case, the agenda has often been called "saving the appearances." Today we call it fitting the facts around the policy. When it was suggested to him that the ancients believed the sun revolved around the earth because that's the way it appears, Wittgenstein asked "And how would it appear if the earth revolved around the sun?"

We have another name for "saving the appearances" in matters political. It's called a cover up. What would it look like if Rove was involved in smearing Wilson by impugning the motives of the Ambassador and his wife?

Posted by: hoi Polloi at July 18, 2005 11:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In the words of Dr. McCoy, "He's dead, Jim."

I don't really care if JMM or Kos or anybody else still wants to argue over the Niger Yellowcake. The mass murder sites we have found are good enough causus belli for me. The fact is that the Democrats almost unanimously stated that Saddam was probably continuing to stockpile and manufacture WMD before the war, and most of them voted to authorized the war. If Bush was wrong, so were the Democrats and both were wrong because of lousy performance by the CIA.

So let them keep telling each other that "Bush lied!" It keeps them busy, and nobody else sees the point in arguing about water under the bridge. And even fewer think it makes sense at this point to pull out our support for Iraqi democracy. Although the leftists won't admit it, we've made great progress in Iraq and we shouldn't let it fail because we pulled the rug out too soon.

Posted by: AST at July 19, 2005 12:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marshall is starting to get it from his own side too.

Posted by: HH at July 19, 2005 03:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Correct link for above

Posted by: HH at July 19, 2005 03:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Assuming that the evidence of Iraq seeking uranium from Niger was as solid as you suggest (i.e., the Butler report and the SSCI report are slam dunk honest assessments of the available information), then WHY would the White House resort to smearing Joe Wilson instead of just laying out the same "slam dunk" information cited by the Butler report and SSCI report?

Did the available information change between July 2003 and the publication of the Butler report and SSCI report?

Face it, Greg, the administration took a position and then disregarded any evidence that contradicted that position. Maybe calling such behavior "lying" is too strong, but there's no way it's intellectually honest. They went looking for X, and so they found X. Anything that tended to show Y was ignored.

That may not be a lie, but it sure ain't straight shootin'.

Posted by: Sean at July 19, 2005 05:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But in life, when you get something wrong, it's good to admit it, hang up your gloves, and move on to the next thing.

hmm ... WMD ... where were they?

They didn't exist.

How about admitting the mistake?

Posted by: monkey at July 19, 2005 07:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An idiot said: When are the anti-Bush people going to admit that there's been no hiding or avoiding anything in this matter?

um... When there really has been no hiding or avoiding anything in this matter.

might be kind of hard since it's a coverup that's going on.

Posted by: idiot hunter at July 19, 2005 07:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The best defence of WMD assertions I've seen in this thread is "the mass graves will do it for me".

From someone who knows:

I don't think there is any question that we as an administration, instead of giving proper emphasis to all major elements of the rationale for war, overemphasized the WMD aspect

Someone, no a bunch of people, shut blew Brewster-Jennings & Associates to bolster an iffy yellowcake story (if not to deter other would-be Wilsons). Doesn't this bother regular denizens here?

If the yellowcake story shouldn't have been disavowed as it was (Greg's belief), shouldn't the blowing of Brester-Jennings still bother you?

Posted by: AlanDownUnder at July 19, 2005 09:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"hmm ... WMD ... where were they?

They didn't exist.

How about admitting the mistake?"

Correction.The correct statement is "We have yet to find any WMD." Unless you have special knowledge of Iraq that we are not privy to,the claim that Iraqi WMD never existed is pure monkeytalk.
How much money would you wager that it "didn't exist"?

Posted by: melk at July 19, 2005 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

melk,
Do you still believe in unicorns and the toothfairy, too...........

Posted by: avedis at July 19, 2005 10:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This Laura Rozen piece is worth a read.

From it --

As I have previously noted, the Butler report asserts that the UK had "multiple" sources for the claim, while obscuring what those sources actually were. The IAEA, for one, has asked Britain to clarify the other sources it claims to have, which it has yet to do.

So what do we know about the nature of the reputed other sources? The most specific references to be found come from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report. Here are all the references to reputed other sources from the Senate report I could find:

But the blowing of CIA cover is wrong whether Djerejian or Marshall are right or wrong about Joseph Wilson being right or wrong. This whole thread is just irrelevant inter-partisan sniping.

Posted by: AlanDownUnder at July 20, 2005 06:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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