Media Blog

Woodward’s Inconvenient Facts

I really thought this might die down after a few days, but it hasn’t. MB readers and other bloggers, many of whom were on the case already, have pointed out dozens of examples of Wilson canards that they’ve spotted in scores of newspaper articles. The sources range from hometown newspapers to the Washington Post. John W. sends in this example from CNN:

[Valerie] Plame and her husband, a retired State Department diplomat, have accused Bush administration officials of deliberately leaking her identity to the media to retaliate against Wilson after he published an opinion piece in The New York Times.
The July 2003 article cast doubt on a key assertion in the Bush administration’s arguments for war with Iraq — that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium in Africa for a suspected nuclear weapons program.
Wilson, who was acting ambassador to Iraq before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, said the CIA sent him to Niger, in central Africa, to investigate the uranium claim in February 2002 and that he found no evidence such a transaction occurred and it was unlikely it could have.

The next paragraph reads:

A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on pre-war intelligence revealed that Wilson’s wife had recommended him for the trip, which Wilson had denied. It also revealed that Wilson reported to the CIA that the former prime minister of Niger told him that Saddam Hussein sought expanded commercial ties with Niger in the late 1990s. The former prime minister told Wilson that he took this as an attempt to buy uranium, and refused to enter into a deal.

Not! Of course there was no paragraph about the Senate Intelligence Committee report’s finding that Wilson’s trip yielded evidence that Iraq did seek to buy uranium from Africa. But as Bob Woodward demonstrated last night on CNN, it’s an undeniable part of the story:

Woodward: There’s some factual problems here. When Wilson went to Niger before all this blew up, in fact, before there was a war, he came back and reported, and Michael [Isikoff] and others who’ve read the Senate Intelligence Committee on this, know his report was very ambiguous. In fact, most of the analysts at the CIA said that Wilson’s findings, when he went to Niger, supported the conclusion that there was some deal with Iraq. Now, no, that’s [reacting to agitation across table from Senator Chris Dodd] — I mean, the Democrats, the Democrats and the Republicans all signed that report. That is a fact.

Woodward then pulled a copy of the relevant passages out of his pocket and slid them across the table toward Dodd and Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, who reacted as if Woodward had just pulled out a rubber chicken. Here’s Isikoff’s dismissive response:

We don’t know exactly what Joe Wilson said when he came back because he didn’t actually write a written report. It was an oral debriefing. So you have CIA analysts who might have interpreted it in different ways…

Oh, it was an oral debriefing, as opposed to a written report. BIG difference. If this is the best excuse the mainstream media can come up with for ignoring the fact that Wilson’s op-ed was a lie from the word go, they’re going to have to do better. We’re not going to give up.

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