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July 13, 2006
Taking A Stroll Through The Garden Of Half-Truths

I've had a chance to review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, and it has an amusing take on reality that I heartily recommend to all interested parties. Quite frankly, the defense will have a delightful time if this ever gets to court. This is one of those moments when one wonders what color the sky is in another's world.

We can start on page 6 of the PDF file, where the plaintiffs lay out the facts of the case. Paragraph 18b starts us off down the primrose path (emphases mine):

On May 6, 2003, the New York Times published a column by Nicholas Kristof which disputed the accuracy of the "sixteen words" in the State of the Union address. The column reported that, following a request from the Vice President's office for an investigation of allegations that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger, an unnamed former ambassador [now known to be Plaintiff Joseph C. Wilson IV] was sent on a trip to Niger in 2002 to investigate the allegations. According to the column, the ambassador reported back to the CIA and State Department in early 2002 that the allegations were unequivocally wrong and based on forged documents.

Note the qualifying phrase, According to the column. The complaint never mentions two salient facts: (1) Joe Wilson was Kristof's source, and (2) Wilson reported nothing of the kind. According to Wilson's own testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Prime Minister of Niger told him the exact opposite:

[Wilson's] intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999,(REDACTED) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

So we have a key omission already in the complaint -- that the Kristof information came directly from Wilson, and that it was a flat-out lie. That's a great start to a legal filing! The false information Wilson leaked is what set off the entire chain of events, leading to the discovery that Plame personally lobbied for the selection of her husband for this trip, who then mysteriously failed to sign the standard no-disclosure agreements.

In fact, that brings us to paragraph 18f:

On or about June 11, 2003, Libby spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson's trip and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and was believed [erroneously] to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.

Erroneously? Once again, we return to the SSCI report, which makes it clear that Plame had not only suggested her husband for the trip, she campaigned for it and then facilitated the briefing session:

Some CPD officials could not recall how the office decided to contact the former ambassador, however, interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD employee, suggested his name for the trip. The CPD reports officer told Committee staff that the former ambassador's wife "offered up his name" and a memorandum to the Deputy Chief of the CPD on February 12, 2002, from the former ambassador's wife says, "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." This was just one day before CPD sent a cable DELETED requesting concurrence with CPD's idea to send the former ambassador to Niger and requesting any additional information from the foreign government service on their uranium reports. The former ambassador's wife told Committee staff that when CPD decided it would like to send the former ambassador to Niger, she approached her husband on behalf of the CIA and told him "there's this crazy report" on a purported deal for Niger to sell uranium to Iraq.

The former ambassador was selected for the 1999 trip after his wife mentioned to her supervisors that her husband was planning a business trip to Niger in the near future and might be willing to use his contacts in the region ...

On February 19, 2002, CPD hosted a meeting with the former ambassador, intelligence analysts from both the CIA and INR, and several individuals from the DO's Africa and CPD divisions. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the merits of the former ambassador traveling to Niger. An INR analyst's notes indicate that the meeting was "apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue." The former ambassador's wife told Committee staff that she only attended the meeting to introduce her husband and left after about three minutes.

Paragraph 18f turns out to hold a whopper of a lie. Less egregious but still eyebrow-raising are the contentions in paragraphs 18i and 18k, where two more columns get printed using unnamed sources, one by the Washington Post and the other by the New Republic. Once again, neither paragraph mentions that Wilson himself was the source and was disseminating false information about his report.

18n gets around to discussing Wilson's own op-ed in the New York Times, where he misled readers about the reason he got assigned the trip -- never disclosing his CIA connections -- and once again spreading false information. The complaint does the same thing:

... In his Op-Ed article and interviews in print and on television, Wilson asserted, among other things, that he had taken a trip to Niger at the request of the CIA in February 2002 to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought or obtained uranium yellowcake from Niger, and that he doubted that Iraq had obtained uranium from Niger recently, for a number of reasons. ...

The "sixteen words" did not say that Iraq had actually obtained uranium from Niger; it said that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa, and according to Wilson's report to the CIA and his testimony to the SSCI -- under oath-- that's exactly what he found. Once again, his attorneys don't bother to include those facts in the complaint. In 18q, they double down, stating that George Tenet's characterization of the "sixteen words" was a mistake shows that Wilson's criticism of them was "legitimate and correct" -- when the SSCI shows that Wilson's report substantiated it!

The defense attorneys should have a field day with Wilson on the stand.

Addendum: I note that Hugh Hewitt regular Erwin Chemerinsky has signed onto the plaintiffs' legal team. Perhaps Dick Cheney can hire John Eastman.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 13, 2006 8:30 PM

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