quasi in rem

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Politics of Truth:

More Wilson stories...(hey everyone can play this game!).

This is from a Talon Interview in 2003:

"TN: Regarding the mission to Niger to investigate the possibility of Iraq purchasing uranium to develop nuclear weapons, why were you selected to go?
Wilson: . . . I was selected to go to Niger because there was maybe one other person in the U.S. government who knew those who had been in office at the time this purported agreement memorandum was signed, and his credibility was somewhat damaged not by anything he did, but by the fact that he had been an ambassador out there and as a consequence, he had to be the daily point of friction with the military junta during the time he was out there. I was senior director for African affairs at the time. I started my career in Niger and had a whole series of relationships and a great credibility with that group of people who had been in power at the time.

I also happen to know a fair amount about the uranium business, having served in 3 of the 4 countries in Africa that produce uranium, including having been ambassador to the Gabonese Republic which is also a uranium exporter.

TN: Did your wife suggest you for the mission?

Wilson: No.
The decision to ask me to go out to Niger was taken in a meeting at which there were about a dozen analysts from both the CIA and the State Department. A couple of them came up and said to me when we're going through the introductory phase, "We have met at previous briefings that you have done on other subjects, Africa-related."

Not one of those at that meeting could I have told you what they look like, would I recognize on the street, or remember their name today. And as old as I am, I can still recognize my wife, and I still do remember her name. That was the meeting at which the decision was made to ask me if I would clear my schedule to go."

But the internal memo does come up...

"TN: An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?

Wilson: I don't know anything about a meeting, I can only tell you about the meeting I was at where I was asked if I would prepare to go, and there was nobody at that meeting that I know. Now that fact that my wife knows that I know a lot about the uranium business and that I know a lot about Niger and that she happens to be involved in weapons of mass destruction, it should come as no surprise to anyone that we know of each others activities."

and this..

"Wilson: Well in the particular piece of this that I own, the trip to Niger, the CIA produced my report, but there were two other reports produced that said that "Gee this story of uranium going to Iraq is just bogus." Subsequent to that we now know this particular "16 words" were the subject of a number of telephone conversations and a couple of memoranda that somehow were lost in the system or forgotten about. But the two uncontested facts in this matter are the following: The 16 words in the State of the Union did not rise to inclusion in the State of the Union, that's the White House's statement. Had my report or the other two reports been accepted instead of this information that was based as we know on forgeries and even at the time didn't pass the smell test for an Italian weekly tabloid, then the President would not have found himself in this predicament. That is not a CIA betrayal of the political system, that is if anything a political betrayal of the intelligence assessment process.

And the second uncontested fact is that a national security asset's name was leaked to the American public in what may have been a crime but certainly is considered to be of sufficient concern to the CIA that they referred the matter to the Justice Department. Now in neither of those it seems to me do you have nefarious CIA involvement unless you are prepared to make the argument that the CIA would have "outed" one of its own, which seems to me to be highly, highly unlikely."

And don't expect any apologies from Wilson...

"TN: If it's determined that in fact there was no leak, that no crime was committed, are you prepared to take back some of the things you've said?

Wilson: Well, actually what I have said is that I would support the investigation, and the investigation will turn up what the investigation turns up. And if there is anything to take back in all of this, it would only be the handcuffs part of the frog-marching out of the White House. Because irrespective of whether or not the Justice Department determines that there was a crime committed and there is prosecution of that crime, even in this bare-knuckles town of Washington, it is below the belt of politics to drag a family member out into the public square to administer a beating because you find yourself unable to adequately discredit her husband who is your adversary in this particular matter."

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