Monday, July 18, 2005

More Factually Challenged Local Columnists

I usually avoid reading the PI. Every time I do I am reminded of a skit from the old local TV show "Almost Live", where in their Thanksgiving edition the Seattle Times was thankful that "its only competition was the Seattle P.I.". However, since I have been following the whole Wilson/Plame thing carefully, this editorial by Joel Connelly caught my eye, if only for the blatant disregard for reality. It definitely calls for a Fisking.

Two years ago, Ambassador Joe Wilson chose a forum in Seattle to suggest that presidential strategist Karl Rove was the leaker who had "outed" Wilson's wife as a CIA agent in retaliation for the ambassador's criticism of White House Iraq policy.

First paragraph and already the Democrat talking points begin. The information that Rove mentioned "Wilson's wife" came up only because the reporter, who called about a welfare reform story brought up the Wilson issue. Rove merely responded that Wilson was untrustworthy and lied about the fact that he was given his assignment by the Vice President's office and not his wife, which in fact was true. Rove was not calling up reporters trying to get them to retaliate against Wilson, he merely stated a completely true fact in response to a question. Also it was not a "leak" he found out from the press in the first place!

Starting with The New York Times, news organizations disclosed on Friday that Rove was a source -- although likely a secondary source -- for rightist pundit Robert Novak. Novak revealed in a 2003 column that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is an undercover CIA agent.

Bzzzzz Thanks for playing. Novak did not reveal that "Plame is an undercover CIA agent" merely that she was a "CIA operative". Neither Novak nor Rove knew that she was undercover, if in fact she was at all. It would actually be illogical for them to assume that she was covert, if she were a covert spook in deep cover somewhere, then how could she be hanging around Langley recommending her husband for trips to Africa? The first reporter to suggest that Plame was a "covert agent" was actually "leftist pundit" David Corn in the Nation.

Wilson was sent to Niger in 2002 to investigate the claim that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in the African country.

The claim proved bogus. It didn't stop President Bush from asserting, in his 2003 State-of-the-Union speech: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

On July 6, 2003, Wilson published an opinion column, "What I didn't find in Africa" in The New York Times.

Hardly, it should have been titled "What I lied about in Africa". In the bipartisan Senate committee investigating Iraqi intelligence, they reported that Wilson actually came back and told them that the former PM of Niger thought that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. Furthermore, the committee found Wilson's testimony at odds with both his previous reports and the reports of the CIA and had the following to say.

When the former ambassador spoke to Committee staff, his description of his findings differed from the DO intelligence report and his account of information provided to him by the CIA differed from the CIA officials' accounts in some respects. First, the former ambassador described his findings to Committee staff as more directly related to Iraq and specifically, as refuting the possibility that Niger could have sold uranium to Iraq and that Iraq approached Niger to purchase uranium. The intelligence report...did not refute the possibility that Iraq had approached Niger to purchase uranium.

Additionally the British government did a review of the intelligence the famous 16 words were based on, called the Butler report, and found it credible. In addition to that (Wilson lies so many times I am running out of segues) the committee also found that Wilson lied about his wife helping him get the job, and the forged documents that he never actually saw, which he euphemistically said he "misspoke about". Yeah, Wilson sounds really vindicated.

What were the consequences for Plame?

"Well, clearly she cannot do things she was able to do before," Wilson said.

What, like pose for pictures in Vanity Fair? What is with that? Did she want to make sure all her double top secret undercover contacts who might have forgotten her name now know what she looks like?!

Wilson is a political independent: He gave to both the Bush and Gore campaigns in 2000 and is an admirer of George Bush Sr.

This is a ridiculous howler. Connelly can only hope that we are too distracted to miss his ridiculous lie. For all of those who can remember way back to last year, Wilson was a John Kerry advisor, who had his "Restore Honesty" website paid for by the Kerry campaign. He only quit the position when his presence became too embarrassing.

UPDATE: To my surprise I actually received a response, the following erudite analysis:

Standard issue right-wing blather from the sort of people who enjoy smearing the reputation of someone who really did stand up to Saddam. jc

I don't quite get the "really did stand up to Saddam" part. The last I checked Bush really stood up to Saddam, and the liberals aren't too happy about that...

It appears I am not the only one.