In, “Trial Spotlights Cheney’s Power as an Infighter” – the New York Times’s latest irrelevant detour around the uncomfortable facts of the Libby trial – reporter Jim Rutenberg approaches accuracy in this account of the events precipitating the Plame leak:
Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were trying in particular to distance the vice president from an assertion that Saddam Hussein had sought large quantities of nuclear material in Africa that was ultimately deemed questionable.
Mr. Cheney was given ownership of the claim by a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003, that he had been dispatched to Africa because of questions by Mr. Cheney’s office. Mr. Wilson wrote that he returned from Africa highly doubtful about the claim and reported that to the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.
When Mr. Bush repeated the claim months later — in a 16-word sentence of his 2003 State of the Union address weeks before the Iraq invasion — Mr. Wilson wrote that he was compelled to question publicly whether Mr. Cheney had ignored his findings because they were inconvenient to the case against Iraq.
Even prosecution witnesses have testified that while Mr. Cheney had asked for more information about the accusation that Mr. Hussein sought uranium in Africa more than a year before the invasion, he did not know that Mr. Wilson was sent to investigate. And, witnesses said at trial, he did not learn about the trip until Mr. Wilson began to make his case publicly. This might explain why Mr. Cheney was so intent on debunking Mr. Wilson.
Yes, the fact that a sanctimonious publicity hound was spreading lies about him might explain why Cheney was intent on debunking Wilson. Weak brew, but still startling to see it in the pages of the New York Times.