Saturday, July 17, 2004

Wilson Watch

More links on Joe Wilson and the Iraq/Niger "16 words" scandal that wasn't:
Mark Steyn weighs in with his Sunday column for the Chicago Sun-Times:
Heigh-ho. It would be nice to hear his media boosters howling en masse, "Say it ain't so, Joe!" But Joe Wilson's already slipping down the old media memory hole. He served his purpose -- he damaged Bush, he tainted the liberation of Iraq -- and yes, by the time you read this the Kerry campaign may well have pulled the plug on his Web site, and Salon magazine's luxury cruise will probably have to find another headline speaker, and he won't be doing Tim Russert again any time soon. But what matters to the media and to Senator Kerry is that he helped the cause of (to quote his book title) The Politics Of Truth, and if it takes a serial liar to do that, so be it.
Christopher Hitchens lays into Wilson in his column for Slate:
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.
In the interests of equal time, former ambassador Wilson has published an open letter at attempting to rebut the statements made in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report concerning his involvement in this issue. Tom Maguire at Just One Minute has published a lengthy excerpt:
I read with great surprise and consternation the Niger portion of Sens. Roberts, Bond and Hatch's additional comments to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Assessment on Iraq. I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised in these comments.
Maguire analyzes Wilson's defense in this post, and is rather less than impressed by it. He has covered this story better than anyone, so to read more simply go to Just One Minute and keep scrolling.
Gregory Djerejian at Belgravia Dispatch also has some good analysis, so check out his site as well.
Finally, it is worth noting what the Butler Commission report, published this week in the UK, had to say on the Iraq/Niger uranium issue:
We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government ’s dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension,we conclude also that the statement in President Bush ’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:
The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

was well-founded.
Source: Butler Report, p. 123 (p. 137 of the PDF file). Conclusion no. 499.
As I said in my original post, someone may have lied about the Niger uranium issue, but it wasn't George Bush. 


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