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July 16, 2004
Wilson Fires Back With A Water Weenie

Ambassador Joseph Wilson has fired back across the funeral pyre of his reputation after the release of the SIC and Butler reports make clear that Iraq had approached Niger and that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, pushed for Wilson's assignment despite his earlier denials. Salon's Mary Jacoby carries Wilson's water (annoying ad required for reading) in attempting to counter the "choreographed editorials" supposedly libeling Wilson:

Choreographed editorials and Op-Ed pieces on Thursday in the Wall Street Journal and National Review and by conservative columnist Robert Novak signaled the revving up of a Republican campaign to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his claims that President Bush trumpeted flimsy intelligence in the drive to invade Iraq. ...

The dispute over the committee report centers on its interpretation of two facts. One is that Wilson told his CIA debriefers that during his Niger trip, he spoke to the country's former prime minister, who told him that members of an Iraqi delegation in the late 1990s expressed interest in expanded commercial contacts with Niger. The former prime minister told Wilson that he interpreted the comment to mean that Iraq was interested in buying uranium, although the word "uranium" was not mentioned in the Iraqis' conversation, he said. The prime minister, fearful of United Nations sanctions that prevented trade with Iraq at the time, dropped the subject, Wilson reported.

But because the ex-minister believed the Iraqis were seeking uranium, the Senate report concluded that whether Iraq sought uranium in Africa remains an open question -- a conclusion Wilson disputes.

The problem with Wilson's dispute is that you can't pick anything else that the Iraqis would have been interested in importing from Niger, a poor country with few excess resources. Niger has only four principal exports: uranium ore, livestock products, cowpeas, and onions. Not to oversimplify this, but even a small child watching Sesame Street could tell you 'which of these items doesn't belong'. Why would the Iraqis start covert negotiations with Niger to buy cowpeas?

The report also quotes an internal CIA memo written by Wilson's wife, Plame, stating: "my 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." Based on Plame's internal memo and other evidence, three Republicans -- Roberts and Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Kit Bond of Missouri -- wrote additional views appended to the report, concluding that "the plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested" by Plame. The three GOP senators criticized their Democratic counterparts on the panel for refusing to endorse this conclusion.

In his letter to the committee, Wilson disputed the Republican senators' characterization. "There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip," he wrote. A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment. In an interview, Wilson said that his wife was stating facts about his background, not pushing that he go to Niger.

Take a look at the quote that Jacoby uses in her defense of Wilson. How can that be interpreted as anything else but a recommendation for assignment? If he already had the job, Plame wouldn't have been writing missives ex post facto. How often have you had a reference send in a letter of recommendation after you've been hired for a job?

Mary Jacoby tips her hand here as a rabid partisan in this battle from the start, accusing the vast right-wing conspiracy of putting a massive PR campaign together almost overnight. (We all sleep in the same house, apparently.) Jacoby can wail about "choreographed editorials" all she wants, but the truth is that the media reacted to the release of two important investigative reports, and both showed Wilson to be incompetent and, in one, a liar as well. Jacoby attempts to spin out from underneath the facts by smearing the messengers, but that will only work amongst the equally rabid radical left.

If this is the best that Joe Wilson can do, it's small wonder why he's suddenly curtailed his once-full television schedule.

UPDATE: A well-placed source who wishes to remain anonymous informs me that Mary Jacoby was Wesley Clark's press secretary. Interesting ...

UPDATE II: I went back and double-checked the Salon article -- and they never mention Jacoby's connection to the Democratic party. Double-plus-good interesting ....

UPDATE III: Big thanks to Instapundit and The Corner for their links today. Welcome to Daily Kos readers as well who found me through Lush's challenge to see if you can "stomach" my opinion. Hope your digestion goes on uninterrupted ...

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 16, 2004 6:44 AM

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