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July 10, 2004
Senate Report: Wilson Lied

One of the supposed martyrs of the Left in the war on terror, former Ambassador and newly-minted author Joseph Wilson, lied to the public about how he got that questionable assignment to Niger, according to a Senate report:

Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

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.

So Joe Wilson came back from Niger and actually confirmed the intelligence regarding uranium sales, instead of debunking it, as he claimed. Of course, that's not what Wilson has been saying since his return; he's taken every opportunity to claim that he found nothing to support claims from British intelligence, and he's said it on the Kerry campaign trail and on his own book tour. So much for "Bush Lied!" Someone lied, and now we know who.

Saint Joe may have even more trouble than just this crucial point regarding his credibility, as the Washington Post report continues:

The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him. ... 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."

For the moment, Wilson stands behind his denials that his wife used improper pull within the CIA to get him the Niger assignment. However, as has long been discussed, the decision to give Wilson the assigment makes sense no other way. Wilson had no particular experience in non-proliferation intelligence, and he gave no inclination that he had much interest in finding anything out for the US. Further, Wilson had been employed with a foundation that primarily had been funded by Saudis, making an assignment for counterespionage against Iraq very suspect.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also leaves open the possibility that the British (and now the French) were entirely correct about the attempted purchase, and scolds the CIA for bungling the investigation. Read the entire article. Anyone who believes that Wilson or Plame were simply innocent bystanders will be sorely disillusioned.

UPDATE: Please read Power Line's excellent post on this article.

UPDATE II: For those relying on Josh Marshall to defend Joe Wilson, check out the Belgravia Dispatch's deconstruction of TPM, via Instapundit.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 10, 2004 4:30 PM

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