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Who's the Liar?


Tim Gratz
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I have been reading more about the whole Joe Wilson/Plame matter.

How many members know that Wilson (apparently) lied to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post?

Wilson told Pincus that he had determined, as part of his trip to Niger, that the famous Niger documents were forged. The problem: Wilson had never seen these forged documents. Indeed, the documents weren’t even in US hands when he took his trip to Niger.

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I have been reading more about the whole Joe Wilson/Plame matter.

How many members know that Wilson (apparently) lied to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post?

Wilson told Pincus that he had determined, as part of his trip to Niger, that the famous Niger documents were forged. The problem: Wilson had never seen these forged documents. Indeed, the documents weren’t even in US hands when he took his trip to Niger.

Tim, this is pathetic. Libby committed perjury and this is the best you can come up with? Why even bother defending the Bush Administration on this one? Bush has washed his hands of it and you should too.

When Wilson concluded there was no large purchase of yellowcake--a conclusion the CIA agreed with, by the way--he also concluded any documents saying there was such a purchase or an attempt at such a purchase to be a lie. He didn't need to see the documents to state this. History has proven him right. Why prove John right about you by trying to defend the indefensible?

Libby was the orchestrator of Cheney's back channel info on Iraq. Information apparently manufactured by Chalabi and his group. This info was used by the Administration to get around the CIA's information. This is all a matter of historical record. The Administration screwed up. They trusted the words of zealots over the CIA, over Wilson. And then when they were exposed they tried to lie their way out of it. And now Libby has to fall on his sword to protect Cheney and Rove. These are not the words of a Democrat. This is what has happened. There is no good spin to this. Perhaps with Libby as the sacrificial lamb, the Administration can get going again and regain some credibility. But I doubt it.

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"Libby comiitted perjury".

First we should recognized that our society accords Libby the presumption of innocence. He must be presumed innocent until (if) he is convicted in court. The indictment does not prove him guilty.

That being said, I would admit there appears to be a strong case that he did perjure himself. One interesting thing in case you did not catch it is that one of the counts involved a question put to him not by Fitzgerald but by a member of the grand jury.

I posted that it was possible that if indeed it was Libby who first revealed Plame's status in the CIA, given her desk job in Washington it is possible he did so without knowing her covert status. It might be because he (apparently) lied to the investigators about how he first became aware of her status that is why Fitzgerald said he was not able to determine whether the underlying statute had been violated.

If Libby did commit perjury, it was not only illegal it was darn stupid. If he had not wanted to answer the question, he could have taken the fifth amendment. Pretty stupid of him to say he learned of Plame's CIA status from Tim Russert when he must have known someone would ask Russert.

But Wilson clearly did lie to Pincus. Granted the documents were a forgery but he still lied in saying that he exposed the forgery. It is my understanding that was not his only lie.

Certainly the fact that Libby may have (for the sake of argument let's say he did) lie under oath does not justify Wilson's lie to a reporter.

Pat, is it your contention that it is appropriate or morally permissible to lie to the media (unless one is under oath)? While a lie to a reporter is, of course, not a crime, I hope you would agree that a lie to a reporter is also, as you put it "indefensible."

It is not a defense to Wilson's lie to Pincus that Libby lied to the grand jury, is it? That's like a 1930s pickpocket saying he should be absolved of stealing wallets because after all Willie Sutton robbed banks.

I assume you say my post in the other thread that Wilson himself stated that he doubted that Bush had been shown his analysis. By the way, are you saying that the CIA told either Bush or high-ranking administration officials that it doubted that Iraq had WMD? I thought that the CIA was assuring the administration that it was its institutional belief that Iraq had WMD.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Good post Pat. However, I fear that Tim will be unable to understand the logic of your argument.

Judith Miller admitted in her testimony before the Grand Jury that Libby had been her source for the false information she published in the New York Times about WMD in Iraq. She also admitted that in her articles that she identified her source as a "former Hill staffer" rather than a "senior administration official". This was done on the orders of Libby. The New York Times has already apologised for these “lies” that appeared in Miller’s reports. Her credibility as a honest journalists has of course disintegrated and was the reason why others in the profession failed to complain when she was sent to prison by Patrick Fitzgerald.

It is interesting to not that the five journalists who received this information from Libby were the same people who wrote articles before the Iraq War about WMD in Iraq. This is of course the key issue about this story. Bush, like Blair, lied to their respective countries about the evidence for WMD in Iraq. They did so to justify their desire to invade Iraq. As a result, 100,000 people have died, including over 2,000 allied soldiers. It is this fact, especially in a country that is gradually realizing that a terrible political mistake has been made by Bush, that will destroy his reputation. Unlike Nixon, it will not force him to resign, but it has exposed him for what he is. A not very bright man who has been manipulated by extreme right-wing forces. In fact, I suppose you could say the same about Tm Gratz.

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Here is an interesting take on the Plame affair by that famous right-wing extremist Christopher Hitchens. It exposes another of Wilson's lies (in his book) that his wife had nothing to do with his assignment to Niger:

Plame's Lame Game

What Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife forgot to tell us about the yellow-cake scandal.

By Christopher Hitchens

Posted (Slate) Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Two recent reports allow us to revisit one of the great non-stories, and one of the great missed stories, of the Iraq war argument. The non-story is the alleged martyrdom of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wilson, supposed by many to have suffered cruel exposure for their commitment to the truth. The missed story is the increasing evidence that Niger, in West Africa, was indeed the locus of an illegal trade in uranium ore for rogue states including Iraq.

The Senate's report on intelligence failures would appear to confirm that Valerie Plame did recommend her husband Joseph Wilson for the mission to Niger. In a memo written to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, she asserted that Wilson had "good relations with both the Prime Minister and the former Minister of Mines [of Niger], not to mention lots of French contacts." This makes a poor fit with Wilson's claim, in a recent book, that "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter. She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." (It incidentally seems that she was able to recommend him for the trip because of the contacts he'd made on an earlier trip, for which she had also proposed him.)

Wilson's earlier claim to the Washington Post that, in the CIA reports and documents on the Niger case, "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong," was also false, according to the Senate report. The relevant papers were not in CIA hands until eight months after he made his trip. Wilson now lamely says he may have "misspoken" on this. (See Susan Schmidt's article in the July 10 Washington Post.)

Now turn to the front page of the June 28 Financial Times for a report from the paper's national security correspondent, Mark Huband. He describes a strong consensus among European intelligence services that between 1999 and 2001 Niger was engaged in illicit negotiations over the export of its "yellow cake" uranium ore with North Korea, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and China. The British intelligence report on this matter, once cited by President Bush, has never been disowned or withdrawn by its authors. The bogus document produced by an Italian con man in October 2002, which has caused such embarrassment, was therefore more like a forgery than a fake: It was a fabricated version of a true bill.

Given the CIA's institutional hostility to the "regime change" case, the blatantly partisan line taken in public by Wilson himself, and the high probability that an Iraqi delegation had at least met with suppliers from Niger, how wrong was it of Robert Novak to draw attention to the connection between Plame and Wilson's trip? Or of someone who knew of it to tell Novak?

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act, notionally violated by this disclosure, is a ridiculous piece of legislation to begin with. It relies in practice on a high standard of proof, effectively requiring that the government demonstrate that someone knowingly intended to divulge the identity of an American secret agent operating under cover, with the intention of harming that agent. The United States managed to get through World War II and most of the Cold War without such an act on its books. The obvious disadvantage of the law, apart from its opacity, is that it could be used to stifle legitimate inquiry about what the CIA was up to. Indeed, that was its original intent. It was put forward by right-wingers who wanted to stifle and if possible arrest Philip Agee, a defector from the 1970s whose whistle-blowing book Inside The Company had exposed much CIA wrongdoing. The act is now being piously cited by liberals to criminalize the disclosure that someone who shuttles dangerously "under cover" between Georgetown and Virginia and takes a surreptitious part in an open public debate, works for the agency and has a track record on a major issue.

To say this is not to defend the Bush administration, which typically managed to flourish the only allegation made about Niger that had been faked, and which did not have the courage to confront Mr. and Mrs. Wilson in public with their covert political agenda. But it does draw attention to an interesting aspect of this whole debate: the increasing solidarity of the left with the CIA. The agency disliked Ahmad Chalabi and was institutionally committed to the view that the Saddam regime in Iraq was a) secular and B) rationally interested in self-preservation. It repeatedly overlooked important evidence to the contrary, even as it failed entirely to infiltrate jihadist groups or to act upon FBI field reports about their activity within our borders. Bob Woodward has a marvelous encapsulating anecdote in his recent book: George Tenet on Sept. 11 saying that he sure hopes this isn't anything to do with those people acting suspiciously in the flight schools. ... The case for closing the CIA and starting again has been overwhelming for some time. But many liberals lately prefer, for reasons of opportunism, to take CIA evidence at face value.

I prefer the good old days. It was always alleged against Philip Agee, quite falsely, that he had identified Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens who was gunned down by Greek anarchists in 1975. In fact, Agee had never mentioned his name in any connection. This did not inhibit the authors of the Protection Act from going ahead, or Barbara Bush from saying in her memoirs that Agee had fingered Welch. I actually contacted Agee at that time, pointing out that the book was being published in London and suggesting that he sue. He successfully got Mrs. Bush to change the wording of her paperback version. But we are still stuck with the gag law that resulted from the original defamation, and it is still being invoked to prevent us from discovering what our single worst federal agency is really up to.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His latest book, Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship, is out in paperback.

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I had previously posted that everyone in positions of authority in both the Clinton and Bush administrations believed Iraq had WMD. John, you accuse me of "not being very bright". How bright is it of you to accuse our President and your Prime Minister of lying about WMD in Iraq when they each had intelligence reports that said that? Moreover, is it not absolutely positively true that Hussein had at one point WMD but he claimed he had destroyed them all? Come on, Joh, put up or shut up:

What evidence do you have that when George Bush said Iraq had WMD that was not his honest belief?

Do you think Clinton also lied about it? Has there been any credible witness that Bush lied about it?

Moreover Iraq is a very large country. Even though no WMD have yet been found, that does not prove they were not there and have yet to be found. I mean one can argue that there is yet no "proof" of a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. The absence of such proof of conspiracy in the Kennedy case (if we characterize proof as evidence so convincing that even Posner could not dispute it) does not prove there was no conspiracy.

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Here is an editorial from the "Boston Herald" re Wilson's lies:

Sunday, July 18, 2004

It's a good thing former Ambassador Joseph Wilson took advantage of his 15 minutes of fame and already published his book bashing President Bush [related, bio], ironically entitled the ``Politics of Truth.''

It's not the best marketing strategy to have two governments essentially call the author a xxxx.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report released last week about intelligence missteps leading up to the war in Iraq were crystal clear about Wilson's falsehoods.

Wilson's insistence that his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, had nothing to do with his selection to lead a pre-Iraq war mission to Niger is a flat-out lie. She's the one who suggested Wilson in the first place, according to documents unearthed by the congressional committee.

Aside from revealing Wilson as the partisan phony he is, this new revelation puts in context why someone in the White House might have identified Plame to columnist Robert Novak in the first place. Wilson charged it was an act of political revenge because he was critical of President Bush's use of the pre-war intelligence. In fact, it is relevant to Wilson's credibility to understand why and how he was selected for the mission.

More importantly, both the British and Senate investigations found the raison d'etre for Wilson's presence on the national stage is false, too.

Remember those much-debated 16 lines in last year's State of the Union address? In a New York Times column, Wilson claimed Bush ``twisted intelligence'' by arguing Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Niger. Wilson's investigation, he insisted, found no basis for it.

We know now that truth is a relative thing to this former ambassador. And it turns out, according to both countries' reports on pre-war intelligence failures, Bush's assertion was absolutely correct.

Wilson's report provided ``some confirmation of foreign government service reporting'' about Iraq's interest in getting uranimum from Niger, according to the Senate. British investigators found Wilson's assertion that the report was based solely on forged documents also untrue. The substantiation for the British intelligence report on Niger came from ``several different sources.''

The political damage to Bush caused by Wilson's lies can't be undone. But at least now he has been undone by them, too.

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Pat wrote:

When Wilson concluded there was no large purchase of yellowcake--a conclusion the CIA agreed with, by the way--he also concluded any documents saying there was such a purchase or an attempt at such a purchase to be a lie.

Pat, I assume you know that Bush never claimed that Iraq had actually purchased yellowcake from Niger. In the State of the Union Speech, he said that a British intelligence report indicated Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake from Niger.

This article is a worthwhile read:

http://www.factcheck.org/article222.html

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Tim, you are right, of course, that Libby is innocent until proven. My understanding is that he acknowledged he made up the "learned it from a journalist" story when he last spoke to Fitzgerald. I may be incorrect on this. In either case, at this sec, he's innocent.

As for the orchestrated attacks on Wilson, they, of course, continue. I missed the Sixty Minutes episode tonight, but my understanding of Wilson's claim that his wife had nothing to do with his trip is that she had nothing to do with the decision to send someone on a trip, that she merely volunteered her husband when asked if she knew anyone who could do it. Due to his experience in the country, sending him was not in itself a mistake. Disregarding his report and quoting information the Administration knew was not credible, information that Tenet had personally removed from an earlier speech by Bush, was the mistake. In their zeal to create a case for the invasion, the Administration screwed up big time. I don't believe it was a deliberate lie as much as it was a case of them wanting to believe discredited information.

What concerns me is Fitgerald's statements that Libby was digging up dirt on Wilson a full month before Wilson wrote his article. This means to me that Libby, at the least, knew the yellowcake info was discredited and was afraid of what Wilson might do. This does not bode well for Libby or the Administration...

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We know now that truth is a relative thing to this former ambassador. And it turns out, according to both countries' reports on pre-war intelligence failures, Bush's assertion was absolutely correct.

Yes truth is a relative thing. Bush's assertion was absolutely correct? Have you any concrete evidence for this. I rely some on FactCheck, which you cited in this thread. That is not what is being asserted.

What is commonly being asserted is that Bush's use of those famous 16 words can be defended by saying that Bush could have reasonably assumed those words to be correct when uttered.

Bush's "16 Words" on Iraq & Uranium: He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn't Lying

This exploration of this issue also reveals that this is a part of the the State of the Union Address that Bush and several Bush administration members have also retracted.

On July 7, the day after Wilson's original Times article, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer took back the 16 words, calling them "incorrect:"

Fleischer: Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.

And soon after, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the 16 words were, in retrospect, a mistake. She said during a July 11, 2003 White House press briefing :

Rice: What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the President's speech -- but that's knowing what we know now.

That same day, CIA Director George Tenet took personal responsibility for the appearance of the 16 words in Bush's speech:

Tenet: These 16 words should never have been included in the text written

for the President.

So if Wilson is so dishonest about these claims, or misguided, or blinded by partisanship, why did the Bush administration disavow this claim?

Wilson came back from Niger believing the claims to be groundless, but the CIA still saw evidence that Iraq was subtly trying to encourage uranium trade talks from his report. Because the CIA believes this and Wilson doesn't does that make him a xxxx?

What is still true because it is nearly impossible to prove it untrue, is that Hussein may have been seeking uranium in Africa. While intelligence reports seem to say this, we have been presented with no proof that I know that shows Hussein or his agents were proven to have been trying to acquire uranium in Africa.

Yet the Bush administration continues to play its favorite game of accusing the accuser.

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My understanding is that British and other European intelligence agencies do believe that Hussein was indeed attempting to acquire Uranium from one or more African nations.

The factcheck article seems fairly accurate to me and I think it is worth reading to fully understand the issue.

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My understanding is that British and other European intelligence agencies do believe that Hussein was indeed attempting to acquire Uranium from one or more African nations.

The story about the supposed agreement between Iraq and Niger for the sale of uranium yellowcake originally came from the Italian intelligence service in October 2001. The claim was investigated by both the CIA and MI6. They both came to the conclusion that the story was false. On 18th October, 2001, the CIA wrote a report entitled: Iraq: Nuclear-Related Procurement Efforts. It gave two main reasons why it did not believe it was true. (1) The French controlled Niger’s uranium industry; (2) The claim was not corroborated by any other source.

This caused problems for both George Bush and Tony Blair. They were both desperate to get their intelligence services to discover evidence that Iraq posed a physical threat to the US and the UK. We now know that Blair asked his intelligence services to collect up any evidence it could to substantiate this claim. I suspect George Bush gave similar instructions to the CIA.

As a result the CIA’s Directorate of Operations issued a report including “verbatim text” of an agreement, supposedly signed July 5-6, 2000 for the sale of 500 tons of uranium yellowcake per year (5th February, 2002).

On 24th September, 2002, the British government published a public dossier made up of any information that the intelligence agencies could find that suggested that Iraq had WMD. We now know (Hutton and Butler reports) that this dossier misrepresented the views of the intelligence services. What Blair did was to edit parts of the report and to add its own words. Therefore, words like “maybe” were replaced with words like “is” and "are". Also terms like “unreliable source” were removed. One passage in the report said: “There is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” It did not mention that MI6 had already dismissed this claim as being false. Nor did it point out that the CIA tried to get the British to omit these claims (Washington Post, July 2003).

Blair and Bush now used this dossier to justify their claim that Iraq had WMD and were trying to get nuclear weapons. This was a lie, and they knew it was a lie.

On 28th January, 2003 Bush made a speech where he said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” He did not say the CIA had given him this information because by this time they had been told by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the international body that monitors nuclear proliferation – that, after a “thorough analysis” with “concurrence of outside experts,” that the Italian documents— “which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger—are in fact not authentic.”

Despite the knowledge that these documents were “not authentic”, Bush and Blair continued to claim that there was evidence that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger. This is the background to Joseph Wilson’s decision to go public with the information that Bush was misleading the American public with his claims about the secret activities of the Iraqi government.

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  • 2 weeks later...

U.S. News and World Report writes this morning that “the consensus view of those who investigated the question of whether the Bush administration lied about intelligence or distorted it, or pressured our intelligence agencies to support a commitment to invade Iraq, is unanimous in rejecting these assertions…The real issue is not that intelligence was manipulated. It is that it was fundamentally unsound--that it misled the president and all the rest of us. The CIA, like most western intelligence services, relied heavily on the reports of the U.N. weapons inspectors. It had less than a handful of human sources in Iraq, none of whom was part of Saddam's inner circle.

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U.S. News and World Report writes this morning that “the consensus view of those who investigated the question of whether the Bush administration lied about intelligence or distorted it, or pressured our intelligence agencies to support a commitment to invade Iraq, is unanimous in rejecting these assertions…The real issue is not that intelligence was manipulated. It is that it was fundamentally unsound--that it misled the president and all the rest of us. The CIA, like most western intelligence services, relied heavily on the reports of the U.N. weapons inspectors. It had less than a handful of human sources in Iraq, none of whom was part of Saddam's inner circle.

Perhaps this posting will shed more light upon this infected debate about who lied about what ……

"Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbours."

These words were uttered by President Bill Clinton on Dec. 16, 1998. Was he shamelessly deceiving American people? Was he lying to the American people at that time?

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."

These words were delivered to the Senate by the vice chairman of the Intelligence committee senator Jay Rockefeller, a democrat from West Virginia on Oct. 10, 2002. Jay Rockefeller.

Was Jay Rockefeller lying and shamelessly deceiving American people? Was he indeed a xxxx??

The quoted words did I found at:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05310/600991.stm

I hope I’m inside right thread. One never knows … and the results of the mistake can be removal to some other place inside Forum without further notice.

I just want to cast some light on the debate “Who’s a xxxx”. And at the same time support Tim’s line that the intelligence about WMD was not as exact as everybody of importance at that time believed that it was.

Even very trustworthy people made mistake, which they today do not want to be reminded of.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda
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