Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 25, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

WILSON AND PINCUS....This is not the most important thing in the world, but since I happened to write about it just yesterday I suppose I should follow up on it. In a post about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger in 2002, I mentioned that both Nick Kristof and Walter Pincus later wrote stories based on anonymous conversations with Wilson that credited Wilson with debunking the forged Niger documents when he returned home. However, that wasn't true: at the time of his trip he had never seen the documents.

Did Wilson mislead Kristof and Pincus? Or did they just scramble what Wilson told them? As I mentioned yesterday, in an email to me last year, Wilson stated flatly:

I told Nick and later Walter Pincus about my trip and the fact that it was a report based on those documents that had led to my being asked to travel. I never claimed to have seen the documents or to have known anything about signatures or dates.

A couple of weeks later, he said that he had spoken to Kristof and "He confirmed that I had made clear to him that I had never seen the documents."

But what about Walter Pincus? Today Pincus wrote this:

Wilson has also armed his critics by misstating some aspects of the Niger affair. For example, Wilson told The Washington Post anonymously in June 2003 that he had concluded that the intelligence about the Niger uranium was based on forged documents because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." The Senate intelligence committee, which examined pre-Iraq war intelligence, reported that Wilson "had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports." Wilson had to admit he had misspoken.

Unless I've missed it before, this is the first time Pincus has publicly said that Wilson misled him. Wilson addressed this issue in a letter to Pat Roberts after the Senate intelligence committee report was released last year, but never specifically addressed the question of what he told Pincus. In fact, he said of his investigation into Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium, "My mission was to look into whether such a transaction took place or could take place. It had not and could not. By definition that makes the documents bogus."

And there it stands. I wonder why Pincus chose today to finally mention this? Odd timing, no?

Kevin Drum 1:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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