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October 19, 2003
Who pays Joseph Wilson?

Remember Joseph Wilson? He's the one who has been screaming that top Bush officials outed his wife as a CIA covert agent. But according to Joel Mowbray, Wilson may be more connected than is known to anti-war partisans -- specifically the Saudis:

The Middle East Institute, officially on the Saudi payroll, receives $200,000 of its annual $1.5 million budget from the Saudi government, and an unknown amount from Saudi individuals — often a meaningless distinction since most of the ‘‘individuals'' with money to donate are members of the royal family, which constitutes the government.

MEI's chairman is Wyche Fowler, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1996 to 2001, and its president is Ned Walker, who has served as both deputy chief of mission in Riyadh and ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Also at MEI: David Mack, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary for NEA; Richard Parker, former ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco; William Eagleton, former ambassador to Syria; Joseph C. Wilson, career FSO and former deputy chief of mission in Baghdad; David Ransom, former ambassador to Bahrain and former deputy chief of mission in Yemen, UAE and Syria; and Michael Sterner, former ambassador to UAE and deputy assistant secretary of NEA.

Mark Steyn, in today's Chicago Sun-Times, notes this in a series of coincidences:

Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the United States introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution? That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C. Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam Hussein trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances there was nothing going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis were vehemently opposed to war with Saddam.

This has no bearing, in my mind, on the question of whether his wife was outed by Bush officials; if she was still covert and active, then whoever revealed her name should at the least be thrown out on his/her ass. However, it has tremendous bearing on the question of why Wilson was chosen for the Niger job at all. Who made that decision? From everything we've heard, it's the geniuses at the CIA, which makes you wonder if they're bothering with a vetting process at Langley anymore. (via Instapundit and Balloon Juice)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 19, 2003 8:16 PM

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