The Corner

Thin Gruel Continued

Joe Wilson responds to the Washington Post today. On the question of whether or not his wife pushed him for the job, he writes:

The decision to send me to Niger was not made, and could not be made, by Valerie. At the conclusion of a meeting that she did not attend, I was asked by CIA officials whether I would be willing to travel to Niger. While a CIA reports officer and a State Department analyst, both cited in the report, speculate about what happened, neither of them was in the chain of command that made the decision to send me. Reams of documents were given over to the Senate committee, but the only quotation attributed to my wife on this subject was the anodyne “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.” In fact, with 2-year-old twins at home, Valerie did not relish my absence for a two-week period. But she acquiesced because, in the zeal to be responsive to the legitimate concerns raised by the vice president, officials of her agency turned to a known functionary who had previously checked out uranium-related questions for them. [Italics mine]

This is misdirection. As best I recall, the charge was never that Wilson’s wife made the “decision” to send him to Niger. It was that she promoted him for the job which, until recently, he categorically denied (or he made it sound like he was categorically denying it). I’m sure Wilson’s telling the truth here. But so what? He can also deny that his wife was the the second gunman on the grassy knoll, and that would be just as relevant. Wilson now makes no attempt here to claim that his wife didn’t tout him for the job. That is quite telling.

Wilson continues:

But that is not the only inaccurate assertion or conclusion in the Senate report uncritically parroted in the article. Other inaccuracies and distortions include the suggestion that my findings “bolstered” the case that Niger was engaged in illegal sales of uranium to Iraq. In fact, the Senate report is clear that the intelligence community attempted to keep the claim out of presidential documents because of the weakness of the evidence.

More misdirection. Wilson claimed that he had debunked the Iraq-seeking-Yellocake story. This was the premise for the “Bush-lied” hysteria which ensued. Now he’s arguing that his report merely didn’t “bolster” the case that Iraq sought uranium. I think he’s on thin ground here too. But saying “I didn’t bolster the case” is a far cry from saying “I debunked it.” It’s now pretty clear, in the wake of the British and Senate reports, that the uranium question was an open one. Wilson claimed, or gave the impression, that it was a closed one. Indeed, Wilson freelanced that Bush was a liar about the Yellowcake story when he clearly didn’t have all of the facts. That much is still obviously true. Whether or not Wilson’s report bolstered the case that Iraq sought Uranium from Niger or not is an important question insofar as it would help demonstrate the degree of Wilson’s dishonesty, but not the fact that he has been deeply dishonest.

Also: For a detailed response to Wilson’s letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee see Tom Maquire here.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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