The bipartisan, unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee Report
called Valerie Plame's husband Joseph Wilson a liar
, albeit such official reports don't use the word "liar
Wilson spent over a week in Niger on his information gathering trip. His specific task in being sent there, under an operational "Secret" clearance, was to look into possible Iraq procurement of uranium from Niger. The U.S. had received reports of a transaction, and it was thought (by whom? became an issue...) that Wilson might be able to add facts, given his experience in a neighboring African country.
Out of work Democrat Wilson (anti-war, pro-Democrat) had political and career reasons to portray his trip as having "disproven" that Iraq has procured uranium for WMD's from Niger.
But in fact, Wilson obtained corroborating evidence that Iraq had sought (although not obtained) uranium from Niger. Not a smoking gun, nor proof, but relevant corroborating information. It is this difference -- "Iraq had procured" vs. "Iraq had sought to procure," that underlay the entire affair (and a good microcosm of the larger political debate about Bush's pre-emptive war).
Per the Report, the CIA "Counterproliferation Division" gave Wilson his script for his Niger trip and the questions to raise in his discussions with Nigerian officials. Wilson was to ask Nigerian officials if Niger was approached, conducted discussions, or entered into any agreements concerning uranium transfers with "countries of concern
." [Report, p. 41]
Wilson's information gathering tasks bear repeating. The information being sought was, "Had Niger:
---- been approached?
---- conducted discussions? or
---- entered into agreements?"The Report calls Wilson a Liar on several points.First Wilson Lie: Wilson Lies to the Mainstream Media.
The unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee Report calls Wilson a liar for his claims to the MSM that purported uranium purchase documents between Iraq and Niger were forgeries:
"[Wilson]...was the source of a Washington Post article ....which said, "Among [Wilson's] conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong... .' [Report, p. 45]
But the Report noted a glaring problem with Wilson's lip-flapping claims to the Washington Post
"[Wilson] had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. [Wilson told the Senate Committee] that he may have 'mispoken' to the reporter when he said he concluded that the documents were forged.' " [Report, p. 45]
[For those non-lawyers, the word "mispoken" is legalese for, "What I said was not true, and you've caught me and thus I am admitting is was not true, but of course I am not admitting that I committed perjury."]The Senate Committee caught Wilson in a lie, confronted him on it, and Wilson admitted he had lied to the Washington Post. It's in the Report.
Second Wilson Lie: Wilson Lies to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Report points out that Wilson lied a second time, on a related item. The initial intelligence reports about possible Iraqi purchases of Niger Nuke Nuggets included foreign agency reference to some documents, which now appear to have been forgeries (but no one knew at the time). Wilson lied to the Senate Committee, trying to cover up the anti-Bush lie he told the Washington Post
set forth above (about the dates and names):
"[Wilson] said he discussed with his CIA contacts which names and figures should have appeared on any documentation of a legitimate uranium transaction. In fact, the intelligence report [i.e., the report written by the CIA agents who debriefed Wilson] made no mention of ... signatures that should have appeared on any documentation of such a deal. " [Report, page 44].Third Wilson Lie: Wilson Tries to Deep-Six Evidence He Uncovers Regarding Iraqi Uranium Procurement Efforts.
Remember one of Wilson's key objectives: Gather information as to whether Niger had been approached concerning uranium purchases by Iraq.
When Wilson was debriefed by the CIA after his trip, Wilson told one story. When grilled by the Senate Intelligence Committee, he told another. The differing Wilson stories were an attempt by Wilson to downplay the important admission he received from a Nigerian ex-official.
"[Wilson's description of his findings [to the Committee] differed from the DO intelligence report and [Wilson's] account of the information provided to him by CIA differed from the CIA officials' accounts in some respects." [Report, p. 44].
This is because Wilson had sat with Niger's former Prime Minister, and a Minister of Energy and Mines. They confirmed to Wilson that, in fact, both Iranian and Iraqi delegations met with the Nigerians in 1998-1999. The Iranian delegation in 1998 explicitly sought 400 tons of uranium ore, but no deal was ever completed.
Then, in June 1999, some businessmen asked the Prime Minister to meet with an Iraqi delegation for the purpose of "expanding commercial relations" between the countries. (Remember, Iraq is under international embargo at this time.)The CIA intelligence report on the matter states that the Prime Minister thought that "expanding commercial relations" meant that Iraq wanted to discuss yellowcake
. The Senate Report states that Wilson said the Prime Minister met with the Iraqi delegation, but that the Prime Minister told Wilson that nothing happened because the Minister "let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq." [??
? See "*" below.]
So in summary, Wilson is sent to Niger, to speak with Nigerian officials about actual or attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium, and the Nigerian Prime Minister tells Wilson about the above meetings concerning Iraqis. A huge intelligence "get," right?
Says the Washington Post
"Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House."
Back to the Senate Report: "[Wilson's description of his findings [to the Committee] differed from the DO intelligence report and [Wilson's] account of the information provided to him by CIA differed from the CIA officials' accounts in some respects." [Report, p. 44].
Apparently, Wilson told the Committee that his objective in Niger was to refute that a sale of uranium had taken place. The CIA intelligence report differed, noting that Wilson was also to investigate whether Iraq had sought
uranium from Niger. Remember, the CIA "talking points" script given to Wilson before he went to Niger included as one of Wilson's tasks finding out about whether Niger had been approached by Iraq about obtaining uranium.
Wilson had uncovered an important piece of corroborating information, but Wilson did not like the political ramifications of his find. Instead, Wilson wanted to have "disproven" that uranium sales had occurred, yet he had corroborated that uranium had been sought.
Wilson's later statements to the MSM, and his after-the-fact "changing the story" as to what were his objectives in Niger, were lies.
Because Wilson didn't like the fact that what he found in Niger corroborated (correctly or incorrectly) the Iraqi "trying to develop WMDs"-justification for war.Fourth Wilson Lie: "The Wife Didn't Send Me" Lie.
Frankly, I can't figure this one
out just yet. Wilson denied that his wife got him the Niger job, but she did. Was it pride, or a Wilson objective to obscure that a career Democrat (his wife) had suggested a career Democrat for a job, with all the overtones of nepotism and bias that might be raised? Or a desire to instead portray himself as an envoy of Cheney, thus his factual findings against Iraq having uranium would be more credible (which he thought disproved an Iraq link, but unknown to Wilson actually corroborated another link)?
And why did someone - presumably a Republican, but who knows - disclose the Plame connection? To debunk the idea that Wilson was acting as Tenet's or Cheney's personal envoy? That seems right, and the Rove-Cooper emails
seem to point to this.
______*-- Query: In June 1999, Prime Minister Mayaki is asked to meet with an Iraqi delegation. He does --let's assume that meeting was between July and September, perhaps. Mayaki left office a few months latter, in November 1999. Rather than Mayaki's claim that "UN sanctions" were the reason he didn't pursue the matter, isn't it more likely that the matter was "dropped" because Mayaki was no longer Prime Minister? And Joseph Wilson, the Niger expert, doesn't press this issue with Mayaki?