Archive for the ‘plamegate’ Category

More on Wilson

November 4, 2005

Via Curt at Flopping Aces, comes highlights from Victoria Toensing’s WSJ article.

• First: The CIA sent her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger on a sensitive mission regarding WMD. He was to determine whether Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake, an essential ingredient for nonconventional weapons. However, it was Ms. Plame, not Mr. Wilson, who was the WMD expert. Moreover, Mr. Wilson had no intelligence background, was never a senior person in Niger when he was in the State Department, and was opposed to the administration’s Iraq policy. The assignment was given, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, at Ms. Plame’s suggestion.

• Second: Mr. Wilson was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement, a mandatory act for the rest of us who either carry out any similar CIA assignment or who represent CIA clients.

• Third: When he returned from Niger, Mr. Wilson was not required to write a report, but rather merely to provide an oral briefing. That information was not sent to the White House. If this mission to Niger were so important, wouldn’t a competent intelligence agency want a thoughtful written assessment from the “missionary,” if for no other reason than to establish a record to refute any subsequent misrepresentation of that assessment? Because it was the vice president who initially inquired about Niger and the yellowcake (although he had nothing to do with Mr. Wilson being sent), it is curious that neither his office nor the president’s were privy to the fruits of Mr. Wilson’s oral report.

• Fourth: Although Mr. Wilson did not have to write even one word for the agency that sent him on the mission at taxpayer’s expense, over a year later he was permitted to tell all about this sensitive assignment in the New York Times. For the rest of us, writing about such an assignment would mean we’d have to bring our proposed op-ed before the CIA’s Prepublication Review Board and spend countless hours arguing over every word to be published. Congressional oversight committees should want to know who at the CIA permitted the publication of the article, which, it has been reported, did not jibe with the thrust of Mr. Wilson’s oral briefing. For starters, if the piece had been properly vetted at the CIA, someone should have known that the agency never briefed the vice president on the trip, as claimed by Mr. Wilson in his op-ed.

• Fifth: More important than the inaccuracies is the fact that, if the CIA truly, truly, truly had wanted Ms. Plame’s identity to be secret, it never would have permitted her spouse to write the op-ed. Did no one at Langley think that her identity could be compromised if her spouse wrote a piece discussing a foreign mission about a volatile political issue that focused on her expertise? The obvious question a sophisticated journalist such as Mr. Novak asked after “Why did the CIA send Wilson?” was “Who is Wilson?” After being told by a still-unnamed administration source that Mr. Wilson’s “wife” suggested him for the assignment, Mr. Novak went to Who’s Who, which reveals “Valerie Plame” as Mr. Wilson’s spouse.

• Sixth: CIA incompetence did not end there. When Mr. Novak called the agency to verify Ms. Plame’s employment, it not only did so, but failed to go beyond the perfunctory request not to publish. Every experienced Washington journalist knows that when the CIA really does not want something public, there are serious requests from the top, usually the director. Only the press office talked to Mr. Novak.

• Seventh: Although high-ranking Justice Department officials are prohibited from political activity, the CIA had no problem permitting its deep cover or classified employee from making political contributions under the name “Wilson, Valerie E.,” information publicly available at the FEC.

[…]The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft. It is up to Congress to decide which.

From the Strata-Sphere comes more analysis:

In a previous post I noted the strange coincidence that the Niger Forgeries were possibly made in the 1999-2000 timeframe (before Bush was even elected), which was also coincidental with the Iraqi trade commission trip to Niger, and Joe Wilson’s first trip to Niger for the CIA. Joe Wilson had just left the US government and started JCWilson International Ventures, Inc – which specialized in trade with African countries.

Countries including Niger, which only had one real product to export: uranium.

In that post I postulated that the Niger Forgeries would be a real good way to divert western intelligence services away from any nefarious activities by pointing them at international bad guy Saddam Hussein. I speculated that if – and this is a big if – Joe Wilson was working with rogue CIA elements to make some money on the side, covered by Valerie’s cover employer supposedly chartered to keep an eye on this kind of WMD trade, then the Niger Forgeries would be a classic CIA method of diversion away from an illegal money making scheme.

Some of this speculation was confirmed when these reports surfaced claiming that the Niger Forgeries were created by Libya to divert suspicions from a Libya-Iraq-Egypt alliance, where Libya purchased the yellowcake for Saddam and others.

New attempts are being made by officials from Niger to obfuscate the political picture with regard to the supply of Niger-originating uranium to Iraq. However, there is now a growing possibility that the reality that Niger supplied uranium to Libya, and that Libya hosted the Iraqi strategic weapons programs from about 1998 onwards, will be openly acknowledged by US and UK governments in the near future.

I have no clue to the veracity of these claims or where this group comes from. But the fact that we found a nuclear weapons capability in Libya shortly after Saddam’s regime fell is consistent with the scenario were we traced Saddam’s weapons to Libya and Libya gave up the ghost when we confronted them.

But how could this play with Wilson?

Here is an interesting timeline of events that is the most common chronology of events in 1999:

1999 – Joseph Wilson takes a trip to Niger at the behest of the CIA to investigate “uranium-related matters” separate from Iraq . (Wilson, Politics lv-lvi). According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on pre-war intelligence, Wilson “was selected for the 1999 trip after his wife mentioned to her supervisors that her husband was planning a business trip to Niger in the near future and might be willing to use his contacts in the region.” (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report on Prewar Assessment of Iraq Intelligence, 39, July 2004).

April 22, 1999 – Valerie Wilson lists “Brewster-Jennings & Assoc.”—later revealed to be a CIA front company—as her employer when making a donation to the Gore campaign. ( Gore FEC filing).

June 1999 – Niger ’s former prime minister Ibrahim Mayaki meets with an Iraqi delegation wanting to discuss “expanding commercial relations.” Mayaki interprets this as an interest in uranium, Niger ’s main export, and later tells Wilson that he did not discuss it because Iraq remained under UN trade sanctions. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 43-44, July 2004).

Curt has more that points out that it’s Wilson who should be under investigation.

The top ten list

November 1, 2005

By way of the Bookworm Room, comes Anna’s posting of Joe Wilson’s Top Ten Lies.

1.) Wilson Insisted That The Vice President’s Office Sent Him To Niger: (Nope. It was the CIA)

2.) Wilson Claimed The Vice President And Other Senior White House Officials Were Briefed On His Niger Report: (Nope. CIA didn’t brief either Cheney or Bush.)

3.) Wilson Has Claimed His Niger Report Was Conclusive And Significant: (Nope. CIA said that the information was not conclusive.)

4.) Wilson Denied His Wife Suggested He Travel To Niger In 2002: (Nope. He said it was CIA, but testimony and documentation show it was his wife.)

5.) Wilson Has Claimed His 1999 Trip To Niger Was Not Suggested By His Wife: (Nope. She did recommend him to the CIA due to the previous trip she had recommended him to take on their behalf.)

6.) Wilson Claimed He Was A Victim Of A Partisan Smear Campaign: Nope. (It wasn’t the RNC as he claimed but a Senate select committee of 8 Dems and 9 Reps that stated “Lent more credibility to the original CIA reports…”)

7.) A Month Before The Bob Novak And Matthew Cooper Articles Ever Came Out, Wilson Told The Washington Post That Previous Intelligence Reports About Niger Were Based On Forged Documents: (Nope. He claimed to WaPo that the names and dates were wrong, but the Senate committee was told by Wilson that he had “misspoken” to the press.)

8.) Wilson Claimed His Book Would Enrich Debate: (Nope. Wilson claimed to committee staff that he used “literary flair”.)

9.) Wilson Claimed The CIA Provided Him With Information Related To The Iraq-Niger Uranium Transaction: (Nope. The Director of Operations at the CIA told committee staff that they had not provided any information to Wilson.)

10.) Wilson Claimed He Is A Non-Partisan “Centrist”: (Ha!! Nope. Wilson is a registered Democrat, donated $2,000 to Kerry (’03), $1,000 to Hillary (’02), and $3,000 to Gore (’99). NYT quote from Wilson in a story on Wilson/Plame “It Will Be A Cold Day In Hell Before I Vote For A Republican, Even For Dog Catcher.”)

Documenting the outrage…

November 1, 2005

Goldstein on Wilson

“…to Wilson, “truth” is whatever he can make people believe it to be, and he’s got millions of willing acolytes ready to insist along with him that his lies are true, and to defend and embrace him even after he’s been proven a self-aggrandizing liar time and time and time again.”

Go read the whole thing.

Getting back to the basics

November 1, 2005

Ok, so Scooter got his ass in a sling, not for what he did prior the the start of the investigation, but what did during the investigation.
The findings of the two year investigation, done with the cooperation of the White House (a nice change from “declaring war” on prosecutors), were actually predicted on the July 15th episode of PBS’s “The Journal Editorial Report“:

Paul Gigot: What kind of legal jeopardy is Karl Rove in, based on what we know now?

Taranto: On a scale of one to 10, Paul, I would say roughly a zero. Look, the allegation is that Rove violated something called the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. This is a 1982 law that’s meant to shield the identities of covert CIA agents. In order to be a covert CIA agent under this law, you have to be stationed overseas or to have been stationed overseas sometime in the past five years. Joe Wilson in his book acknowledges that his wife’s last overseas assignment was in 1997, six years before this so-called leak took place. There’s no crime here.

Gigot: It also is true that you must have disclosed the CIA agent’s identity maliciously and as part of your normal official government function.

Taranto: You have to have learned it through your government functions, and you have to have disclosed it knowing that the government was taking affirmative measures to conceal it. Now Robert Novak, who first reported this, said later that he had asked the CIA if it was OK to disclose this name. He said the CIA said we’d rather not, but made only–and these are his words–“a very weak objection.” So it doesn’t sound like the government was taking affirmative measures.

Gigot: Of course, we do have that independent counsel, the Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed a couple of years ago, looking into this. Do we know what it is precisely he’s looking at? Could he be looking at anything more than whether that law was violated? Something like perjury or lying under oath?

Taranto: Well, as Martha Stewart can attest, sometimes just being involved in a criminal investigation can get you into trouble if you do the wrong thing. So yes, there may be conceivably indictments based on something that arose out of the investigation, even if there is no underlying crime.

So the root cause of Plamegate is nothinggate. If Fitzgerald had something, he would have said it, even if he didn’t press charges.
See Indepenent Council Ray’s findings for example.

So, let’s look at what happened back at the root of the issue.

Why was Joe Wilson sent to Niger in the first place? He said that the Vice-President wanted answers, but as we know that doesn’t mean the the VP picked him. Wilson’s qualifications are also suspect. He was low level diplomat to third world countries and briefly served in the US Embassy in Baghdad prior to Desert Storm. He had no background in WMDs or any intelligence training. It’s been widely leaked that it was his wife who put his name up, but why? He did have some connections with the Nigerian Mining Ministry. A group of officials as honest as any in sub-Sahara Africa, which is to say at least mildy corrupt. From what I’ve read, Wilson asked them if they had violated international laws concerning the transfer of weapons grade uranium. Hardly surprising, they said no. Wilson in his NY Times Op Ed, said he found no evidence of the sale of Yellow Cake to Iraq. What he didn’t say there, but did in his report to the CIA, was that there was a group of ranking Iraqi officals, including “Bagdad Bob” in Niger at the time. There isn’t much besides Yellow Cake to interest the Iraqi government in Niger.

Glenn Reynolds points out that the CIA doesn’t come out looking good in this affair no matter how you slice it:

THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention.

Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson’s oped appeared, Plame’s covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.

This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn’t care much about Plame’s status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.

The other possibility is that they’re so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they’re so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn’t find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.

Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired. And it’s obvious that the CIA, one way or another, needs a lot of work.

Hmmm…that goes back to the theory that Wilson, a known opponent of the Bush Administration, be sent to Niger as part of the CIA’s plan to keep the President off balance and not cleaning house at the CIA.

That old double standard

July 15, 2005

As Baldilocks points out, no matter how much the dems pound the table over the so-called Plamegate non-scandal, no law was broken by Karl Rove.

You can’t break a law by outing a person as a covert agent when they do not meet the standards of that very same law which defines the term ‘covert agent.’

James Taranto points out that Joe Wilson’s own book states that he and his wife had lived in the US for over 5 years prior to his trip to Niger that his wife (not VP Cheney) set up for him.

She then goes on to ask why this clear violation of federal law has gone unpunished:

Meanwhile Sandy Berger, he of the pants stuffed with classified documents, still has not been sentenced.

Asked why Berger wasn’t sentenced as scheduled [for stealing and destroying top secret terrorism documents from the National Archives, to which he plead guilty] on Friday, July 8, a Justice Department spokesman told NewsMax on Tuesday that Berger’s sentencing has been postponed till September.

Um, JD spokesman, that doesn’t answer the question ‘why.’

Update: Mr. Reynolds has a roundup including Jerry Pournelle putting in his two centicredits.

More from Mr. Pournelle:

“[M]ost of the Democrats who want to beat up the administration over the war voted to authorize it, so an honest analysis of the war decision factors won’t work. So, we have this imbecile investigation taking up time.”

and Mark Steyn:

“But in the real world there’s only one scandal in this whole wretched business — that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration, set up a pathetic ‘fact-finding mission’ that would be considered a joke by any serious intelligence agency and compounded it by sending, at the behest of his wife, a shrill politically motivated poseur who, for the sake of 15 minutes’ celebrity on the cable gabfest circuit, misled the nation about what he found. . . . What we have here is, in effect, the old standby plot of lame Hollywood conspiracy thrillers: rogue elements within the CIA attempting to destabilize the elected government.”

Another democrat liar getting a media free ride

July 26, 2004

Mr. Reynolds has a roundup on the liar Joe Wilson.

No surprise here

July 14, 2004

The media outlets who were pimping Wilson’s story last year are virtually ignoring its collapse.
The Reason is clear: they’re doing whatever they can to help Kerry and hurt Bush. The country? Worry about that later, if at all.

The Truth comes out…

July 14, 2004

Washington Post on Joe Wilson and how he’s “a Lying Sack of S**t”

Mr. Sullivan nails it.

July 12, 2004

On the face of it, Wilson is a complete, partisan fraud.

The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because “the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.”
“Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the ‘dates were wrong and the names were wrong’ when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports,” the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have “misspoken” to reporters. The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger.