The Plame and Wilson set-up on the “crazy report” about Niger

Our view is that the Plame and Wilson trip to Niger was in some ways a set-up, with its conclusions drawn in advance. We base that on reading the bi-partisan Senate Select Committee report of July 7, 2004, which runs to nearly 400 pages and can be downloaded here. Valerie Plame herself referred to an account of Iraq trying to acquire yellowcake in Niger as a “crazy report” in advance of offering the Niger trip to her husband. Further, the committee trashed Joe Wilson’s credibility when it disputed the veracity of information he provided to the Washington Post. Finally, the committee found that the views being publicly expressed in the New York Times and elsewhere by Wilson were at odds with what he actually reported to the CIA. We will excerpt a bit from the report below. We are posting this now, because we believe that this context sets the stage for the tragedy of Scooter Libby, about which we will post a little later.

Plame, as quoted in the bi-partisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report, page 39, talking about the “crazy report” on Niger and Iraq before sending her husband:

The bi-partisan Senate report trashes Wison on his false information to the WaPo, page 45:

The bi-partisan Senate report finds that, as opposed to Wilson’s op-ed in the NYT (“if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them”), his actual reporting supports the possibility that Iraq was seeking uranium in Niger (page 46):

One final thought

We believe that Wilson was in cahoots with an institutional Democratic Party or anti-war effort as he undertook the mission to refute the “crazy report” in his wife’s words. We find this passage in Wilson’s NYT op-ed interesting in that regard:

Those are the facts surrounding my efforts. The vice president’s office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

The question now is how that answer was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses. (It’s worth remembering that in his March “Meet the Press” appearance, Mr. Cheney said that Saddam Hussein was “trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.”) At a minimum, Congress, which authorized the use of military force at the president’s behest, should want to know if the assertions about Iraq were warranted.

We find Wilson’s exact citation of Cheney’s words of three months prior — “trying once again to produce nuclear weapons” — from a transcript of the March 16, 2003 Meet the Press program very interesting. It suggests to us the presence of junior staffers and analysts whose job it is to track such bons mots, not simply a first-person account of Wilson’s travels and thoughts. Not a big point, but consistent with the rest of the picture.

Finally, we note that Joe Wilson’s website, RestoreHonesty.com, was registered on October 22, 2003 by John Kerry for President, Inc.

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