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The So-called "Lies" of Joe Wilson
By Larry C. Johnson
The smears keep on coming. The airwaves have been filled with folks like like Joe DiGenova, his wacky wife, Victoria Toensing, and Andrea Mitchell insisting that, "Joe Wilson lied" about who sent him to Niger and what he discovered. Well, let's play he said, she said and pinpoint the real liar.
Andrea Mitchell, a woman genuinely confused by facts, said the following on Tuesday's edition of Hardball:
MITCHELL: I don`t know that to be the case, but what I think people need to focus on, is the overall background of what was going on back then. This was a fight -- an internal fight -- between the CIA and Dick Cheney. . . .And in that context, when Joe Wilson went on television with us and in interviews and said he had been dispatched by the vice president, you could understand why Dick Cheney and his people probably said no, we didn`t send him. We had nothing to do with that, because, you know, whether Wilson was told or was simply inflating his own importance, he led people to believe, he said publicly, that he had been dispatched by the vice president.
Gee Andrea, don't you know how to read? Here is what Joe Wilson wrote on July 6, 2003:
In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake -- a form of lightly processed ore -- by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.
Got it! He did not write that Cheney sent him. Joe Wilson isn't lying, Andrea Mitchell is. Moreover, when Wilson appeared on Meet the Press on July 6, 2003 with Andrea, he did not say what she claims he did. Here's the relevant portion of the transcript:
MS. MITCHELL: But, in fact, many officials, including the president, the vice president, Donald Rumsfeld, were referring to the Niger issue as though it were fact, as though it were true and they were told by the CIA, this information was passed on in the national intelligence estimate, I've been told, with a caveat from the State Department that it was highly dubious based on your trip but that that caveat was buried in a footnote, in the appendix. So was the White House misled? Were they not properly briefed on the fact that you had the previous February been there and that it wasn't true?
AMB. WILSON: No. No. In actual fact, in my judgment, I have not seen the estimate either, but there were reports based upon my trip that were submitted to the appropriate officials. The question was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president. The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there.
Shocking! Joe Wilson consistently said that the request originated with the Vice President and was passed to the CIA. Don't stop there, that is also what the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported in July 2004.
Several in the media also keep repeating as fact that Joe Wilson got it wrong on whether or not Iraq was buying uranium in Niger. Here is what Joe wrote in July 2003:
Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.
Guess what? That turned out to be true as well. Joe had his facts right, it was Bush and Cheney who were ignoring the truth. What we now know for certain is that the intelligence community, particularly the CIA, consistently shared Joe's judgment that the reports claiming Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium were not reliable. On at least two occasions in the Fall of 2002, CIA personnel specifically informed Senators and the White House that the reports about Iraq buyin uranium were wrong. We now know that the only intelligence on this matter came from one source, Italian intelligence, which provided three separate reports.
Finally, several media hacks go after Joe claiming that the White House had to know about the results of his investigation. Here's what Joe said:
Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.
Andrea Mitchell on the October 13 edition of Hardball spreads further misinformation by insisting that Vice President Cheney was out of the loop:
MITCHELL: He did not necessarily know that any trip was even under way at the early stages of that trip.
MATTHEWS: Sure, but they...
MITCHELL: That`s what they were trying to clear up. That`s why they jumped up. And that was probably the original motivation.
MATTHEWS: Right. But is the vice president, Jim, still left with the explanation that he or someone has to give -- if a trip was undertaken to Central Africa to answer an inquiry raised by him, why didn`t they report back to him that there was no deal there involving uranium? And, therefore, why didn`t he tell the president before he gave his State of the Union address?
Wrong again Andrea! (How can someone get so much so wrong and still be considered a serious journalist?) According to the July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report, Vice President Cheney asked his CIA briefer for an update on the Niger issue he had asked about in early February (which triggered Joe Wilson's trip to Niger). As a result of Cheney's request in early March, two CIA officers debriefed Ambassador Wilson on the results of his trip, wrote up the report, and disseminated the report on 8 March (p. 42 of the Senate report). Now, we're asked to believe that the CIA briefer never got back to Cheney? If you believe that call me, I have a bridge in Baghdad to sell you.
So boys and girls, what have we learned? Well if there is a liar it is not Joe Wilson. He told the truth. It is people like Andrea Mitchell, Joseph DiGenova, Victoria Toensing who are having trouble with the truth of the matter.