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July 12, 2005

But what about Mr. Wilson?

For a few days now I've been working looking into information regarding Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. My contention, in a comment to this post, was that this Plame-Leak controversy was obscuring the fact that Wilson lied on multiple occasions about the circumstances surrounding his trip to Niger to investigate Uranium sales deals with Iraq. He lied in his op-ed about what happened there and he lied to others - saying his CIA wife did not secure him the Niger mission.

Another commenter, dem, said that he never heard that Wilson had been discredited. I believe that to be possible due to the low level of MSM coverage of this story.

So, there are summaries of these facts in articles in National Review here and here as well as

Or, if you prefer, you can read primary source documents: the
Butler Report (from British Intelligence) and the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Interestingly enough, on Monday night's Special Report w/Brit Hume, All-star panelist, Fred Barnes, said, "Of course Wilson's whole story has been totally discredited now." He said it so off-handedly as to suggest that it was common knowledge.

Well, apparently it's not, but it should be.

Posted by Abigail at July 12, 2005 12:56 AM

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The duplicity of partisans, on both sides, never ceases to amaze me. Particularly, their willingness to place their party's interests over the nation's, even when it comes to national security. Here, in a time of war, a White House official is alleged to have outed an US agent for political pay back - but it is o.k. because her husband is a scoundrel. Is this behavior acceptable now, even if there was no technical violation of law? Is there no sense of propriety left in our country?

Posted by: mikey at July 12, 2005 04:32 PM

Thank you for your comment Mikey, but you are making some incorrect inferrences about what I have been saying.

IF it's true that Rove broke the law outing a US agent willfully for the purpose "political pay back" that would indeed be horrendous. But my whole point about the discrediting of Joe Wilson is that Rove would not have to seek pay back because Wilson was already shown to be wrong. This is what the investigation will discover. However, currect facts indicate that Rove's comments to Matt Cooper were not for the purpose of writing a story about Wilson's wife, they were for the purpose of stopping an incorrect story about VP Cheney sending Wilson to Niger. Cooper's own emails indicate that Rove did not wish the information about Wilson's wife to be used in the story, nor is there an indication of Rove knowing the type of work Plame did at the CIA.

I'm also not claiming that Rove didn't break the law because of a technicality. The law itself is written in such a way as to beg the use of technicality. In order to break this law one has to willfully reveal a covert CIA opperative at the time they are undercover, and they had to have come across this knowledge through official channels. It's incredibly complicated.

Posted by: Abigail at July 12, 2005 10:35 PM

First, the articles and report you cite are misleading. Three are opinions - all written in 2004 and not current - by conservative pundits based on the report, so I recommend you read Wilson’s reponse to the claims made by a primary author of the report, Senator Pat Roberts. It is here:
I also recommend you read a thorough analysis of the available information, including the Senate Intelligence Report that you cite, from someone other than a conservative pundit with an axe to grind. Here is a very good one from Joshua Micah Marhsall shortly after the report was released:
In short, you are mistaken about Saddam’s efforts to obtain uranium from Niger. Even the White House no longer makes this claim.

As to FoxNews, just because they say something doesn’t make it true. Fox is well known for both its inaccuracy and its lack of “fair and balanced reporting”. The list of examples is so exhaustive I’m not going to go into it here, although in previous posts I have noted some of the worst cases. With regard to FoxNews and the people who rely on it as their primary source of information, there is a very famous poll that was taken where respondents were asked 3 basic questions about Al Qaeda, WMD and Saddam. These were nonpartisan questions and were based on facts, not opinions. Fox News watchers were much more misinformed than people who got their news from other sources (e.g. greater than 10 times more likely to get all 3 questions wrong than listeners of NPR). After a quick Google search, I found a report about the poll here:
It has been written about extensively elsewhere, so you can verify the findings yourself.

Now, let’s return to your criticisms of the Wilson/Plame/Rove/Bush scandal. I am going to try to avoid repeating points I previously made at SCO about this matter. They are at the post to which you refer. Here I have paraphrased the defenses of Rove’s actions and accompanying criticisms of Wilson by conservatives:
“A lot of people knew Plame worked for the CIA, so Rove’s actions aren’t that serious.”
“Rove didn’t use Plame’s name; he merely referred to her as ‘Wilson’s wife’.”
“This is just a partisan attack on Rove by Bush-haters.”
“Wilson was sent to Niger because his wife recommended him to her superiors at the CIA.”
“Wilson was wrong in his conclusions about Saddam trying to obtain uranium from Niger.”
“Plame doesn’t deserve sympathy because she is a media darling.”

I’m sure I’m missing some, and I’m sure we’ll hear more soon. Although I disagree with the assertions I have listed, I contend that none of them matter. Even if you get your information exclusively from right-wing pundits, even if you incorrectly believe Wilson was wrong, even if you disregard that the administration no longer claims Saddam was trying to get uranium from Niger, Rove divulged information about a CIA agent who was working to protect our nation from being attacked by WMD. And the outing was done in a way that seems intended solely to discredit an administration critic. Everything else to me seems to divert attention from that issue. Nothing else matters as much.

Adding to the apparent stench of this situation are various reports that not 1 or 2 but at least 6 members of the press were told that Plame worked for the CIA by “senior members of the Bush administration.” Furthermore, after Wilson went public about his claims that Bush/Cheney were distorting information about Iraq’s weapons programs, Rove told Chris Matthews of Hardball that “Wilson’s wife is fair game.” I don’t know how this can be interpreted as anything but an organized smear campagin that places politics above national security.

You can continue to cheer for our troops - so do those on the left, by the way - but it seems to me that there should be more criticism of why they are in harm’s way in the first place, and what price the nation is paying in terms of national security, values and integrity (something Bush promised to restore after Clinton) when citizens working to defend us are punished because their SPOUSES express their first amendment rights to criticize public policy.

But should we be surprised? John Kerry volunteered to fight in Vietnam, but was accused of not deserving his medals of valor by Bush campaign supporters. Never mind the fact that Bush could never demonstrate he had actually completed his service in the National Guard while he avoided fighting in the war. John McCain was similarly smeared by the Bush campaign during the 2000 presidential primary, when it was suggested by people posing as polsters in South Carolina that he fathered a black child out of wedlock. Here is one of many reports:
In another case, where Bush was running against former Texas governor Ann Richards, leaflets were left on cars at churches and phone calls were placed to radio station call-in shows suggesting that Richards was a lesbian:
And in another, Rove bugged his own office and accused democrats of doing it. Until that time the candidate running against Rove’s boss was winning, but the office bugging charge changed the outcome quickly.

Bush has never criticized any of this behavior and never demanded an investigation when it involved his campaigns. Nor has he seemed concerned about the Plame leak. In fact, Bush will no longer stand by his assertion that he will fire anyone found to have leaked an agent’s name.

I have read a lot of unsubstantiated claims and outright mistaken accusations at this web site, all involving purported behavior by liberals. But until conservatives clean their own house and demand accountability from their leaders, they will never attain the moral high ground or earn the public trust.

Posted by: dem at July 13, 2005 01:41 AM


Here's a current column about the Wilson-Plame-Rove story.

These paragraphs provide a nice summary:

"In short, Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission. The media and the Kerry campaign promptly abandoned him, though the former never did give as much prominence to his debunking as they did to his original accusations. But if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know.

If there's any scandal at all here, it is that this entire episode has been allowed to waste so much government time and media attention, not to mention inspire a "special counsel" probe. The Bush Administration is also guilty on this count, since it went along with the appointment of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in an election year in order to punt the issue down the road. But now Mr. Fitzgerald has become an unguided missile, holding reporters in contempt for not disclosing their sources even as it becomes clearer all the time that no underlying crime was at issue."

In case dismiss the OpinionJournal editorial as written by "a conservative pundit with an axe to grind" here's what has to say:

Speaking of current, what's the date on the talkingpointsmemo post that you reference?

Posted by: Lee at July 13, 2005 10:27 PM


I explicitly said one reference that discredited Abigail's misinformation was from around the same date as Abigail's articles. Since there hasn't been much public discussion about the topic since then until the last few days, it seemed appropriate to me.

Thank you for directing me to the WSJ editorial. Unfortunately for your argument, as you may have heard by now, it was rife with errors. I don't really care to refute their claims point by point, especially since you neglected to address the vast majority of what I said. There have been numerous criticisms of the fallacies in this and similar WSJ editorials. Some are below. One is from February since it deals with an editorial of similar content around that date that makes many of the specious claims as the current one.

I'm sorry that some of these are not confined to WSJ criticism but more broadly dispell the entire GOP talking points on the matter. I am extremely busy at the moment and will try to devote more time to specific claims in the future if you or anyone else here would like to hear them.

All the noise from those seeking to discredit Wilson is intended as a distraction. Rove has a history of unethical behavior, which by virtue of being tolerated by President Bush, at best sullies Bush's reputation and at worst implicates him in complicity.

Posted by: dem at July 15, 2005 10:53 AM