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Tilting at Windmills

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April 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MORE DECLASSIFICATION MAGIC....Murray Waas reports today about yet another classified document that Dick Cheney told Scooter Libby to leak to the press. This one was a CIA report on Joe Wilson's trip in early 2002 to Niger:

The March 2002 intelligence report was a debriefing of Wilson by the CIA's Directorate of Operations after Wilson returned from a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger to investigate claims, later proved to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation, according to government records.

The debriefing report made no mention of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, then a covert CIA officer, or any role she may have played in her husband's selection by the CIA to go to Niger, according to two people who have read the report.

The previously unreported grand jury testimony is significant because only hours after Cheney reportedly instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby divulged to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper that Plame was a CIA officer, and that she been involved in selecting her husband for the Niger mission.

The implication of the third paragraph is that perhaps Cheney instructed Libby to leak Plame's identity at the same time he instructed him to leak the contents of the trip report. However, I'm not sure this makes sense, since the leak Waas is writing about happened on July 12, 2003, and Miller says Libby had already mentioned Plame's employment twice before that. I'm open to correction or clarification on this point, though.

In any case, the obvious question this raises is: Just how many reports did Cheney hastily "declassify" in order to get back at Wilson? Perhaps President Bush should direct his vice president to give us a full tally.

UPDATE: Was this really another case of "declassification magic"? Jane Hamsher spoke today to Joe Wilson, and he says his understanding is that his trip report is still classified.

Kevin Drum 9:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

What would it take for Republicans to start pressuring Cheney to resign? They must be terrified of him not be doing so already.

If this keeps getting worse, I predict that Bush will be forced to resign, but not before Cheney is forced to resign first, permitting the Republicans to put in their own hand-picked successor. There is just no other winning strategy for them for 2008, even though it didn't work with Ford.

Posted by: Alan on April 14, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bush hold somebody accountable?

Bwahahahahaha!

That'd be a first.

Posted by: Technowitch on April 14, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

...he says his understanding is that his trip report is still classified.

That's the magic!

Posted by: Grumpy on April 14, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

"... to investigate claims, later proved to be unfounded, that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation, according to government records."

That of course should read "later proved to be well-founded".

Waas surely knows this. This false statement doesn't exactly enhance his credibility.

Posted by: am on April 14, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

And I thought Cheney was never briefed on Wilson's trip...

Posted by: exgop on April 14, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you get it, these guys are ruthless idealogs that will try to destroy anyone that does not see it their way. Watch for the next war. These folks are just arrogant enough to attack Iran.

Posted by: clell2 on April 14, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

I have been told that there is an Executive Order that allows the POTUS and VPOTUS to declassify secret documents for a specific purpose. Clearly in this case the object was to ascertain that the public understands the motivation of the person who was slandering the Commander-in-Chief at the time of war against the entities whose declared goal is to destroy us.

In light of the facts, all this is just a storm in a Starbuck Latte.

Of course the liberal fantasizers are allowed to let their wishful imagination run wild.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 14, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK


TBROSZ: I have been told that there is an Executive Order that allows the POTUS and VPOTUS to declassify secret documents for a specific purpose.

You've been told, eh? Is that order classified, but it was temporarily declassifed for the purpose of leaking the info to you, so that you could talk it up on blogs?


Posted by: jayarbee on April 14, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when Cheney went on MTP and said "I don't know Joe Wilson....I never heard of Joe Wilson....."

Posted by: lina on April 14, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

"That of course should read "later proved to be well-founded"."

Uh, no, actually.

It should read "later proved to be based on forged documents"

Posted by: Joel on April 14, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, no Joe Klein thread?

Posted by: Anonymous on April 14, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

The POTUS and the VPOTUS declassifying or not declassifying is not the issue. It's the motivation behind the declassification. Bush and Cheney couldn't refute Wilson with facts, so they had to resort to a lame-ass character assassination to justify their Iraq fantasy/fiasco. Declassifiying documents for purely political purposes and exposing a CIA agent for the same reason -- that's what they did. Those are the facts. Libby's under indictment for obstructing a criminal investigation. Bush and Cheney are the criminals, not Joe Wilson or his wife. It's simple.

Posted by: secularhuman on April 14, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Come on tborsz, you can come up with more than "Na, na na, boo-boo, stick your head in doo-doo."

Posted by: rapscallion on April 14, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

However, I'm not sure this makes sense, since the leak Waas is writing about happened on July 12, 2003, and Miller says Libby had already mentioned Plame's employment twice before that.

You're right, it doesn't make sense, as stated in Fitzgerald's Apr 5 filing:

Defendants participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 (discussed further below) occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. ... Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin (then the communications person for the Vice President) regarding the NIE and Wilson. Defendant was instructed to provide what was for him an extremely rare on the record statement, and to provide background and deep background statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson. During the conversations that followed on July 12, defendant discussed Ms. Wilsons employment with both Matthew Cooper (for the first time) and Judith Miller (for the third time). [emphasis added]

Posted by: has407 on April 14, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

For the latest CIA Leak/PlameGate news, legal documents, timelines statutes and other key materials, see:
"The PlameGate Scandal Resource Center."

Posted by: AvengingAngel on April 14, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney with Russert, September 14, 2003

Russert: ...Ambassador Joe Wilson...was sent over by the CIA because you raised the question about uranium from Africa....Were you briefed on his findings in February, March of 2002?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I dont know Joe Wilson. Ive never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. Id heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, What do we know about this? They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, This is all we know. Theres a lot we dont know, end of statement. And Joe WilsonI dont who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back....

...like I say, I dont know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldnt judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...

MR. RUSSERT: The CIA did.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I dont know.

Posted by: theorajones on April 14, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is sort of wringing out old news. To anyone who knew about Iraq, it was clearly a bad idea at the begining. Why don't we hear about the Iraq specialists who were saying the effort was a disaster? Because we know that now. Some of us knew it then but all know it now. The specialists were ignored. We went to war. It all went bad.

But no body resigned. Nobody got blamed. We continue as if all is fine. Now to people who think the war was an inept idea, they are now entering a kind of half-world. The war is useless and will do almost no good. Yet no reaction occurs. There is no acceptance validation or capitulation by the dolts who started it. All continues as before as though the war was cruising along beautifully. So we look for more reasons why it was bad. We look for more ways to show the incompetance and deciet of the culpable.

And we find many. But none of them actually change the political situation. The same people are in place.

Will this new piece of evidence tip the balance? Probably not. We will look for another. And find it. But that won't do it either.

There is this sense that we can't believe that we are really just getting royally scr&*wed. These people will not resign because if they resign the whole nation has to admit that this war is going to be an appalling and long lasting failure.

No, better to parse emails by administration nincompoops for evidence of "where it all went wrong". One day it won't matter. Because the whole thing will be tits up and kicking. And we are all going to have start to think about how the US can save its indebted, militarilly failed --s. At that point if GW pocks his head up and says "democracy", he will get a kick in the head. But by then of course he will be long gone. And we will be trying hard to forget him.

Posted by: exclab on April 14, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have been told [Really?] that there is an Executive Order [No EO#?] that allows the POTUS and VPOTUS to declassify secret documents for a specific purpose [Political Assasination]were told Clearly [Murky as hell] in this case the object was to ascertain [Figure out?] that the public understands the motivation of the person who was slandering [Slander? Bush Lied] the Commander-in-Chief [Yeh at the Golf Course?]at the time of war [Umm Iraq war Hadn't begun] against the entities [an Entity? Like Osama, whom Bush doesnt care about?] whose declared goal is to destroy us.[Thats What you think Chicken Little]

In light of the facts [nary a Fact listed by you], all this is just a storm in a Starbuck Latte.[You are correct your post is a load of tripe]

Of course the liberal fantasizers [Broad Generalization, an Opinion, not fact] are allowed [By What Allowed? Freedom?] to let their wishful [Ok I give up, tell me what I'm wishing] imagination run wild.[I think your imagination has gone awol here]

Yawn more 'Attack Ministry' Speak. Mcarthyism gone 'Christian' Yet in your Neo-Liberal ignorance you have ignored the fact Neo-Cons are Former Democrats, Jean Kirkpatrick. The Delays and the Abramoffs told the Indians, and the Christians what they want to hear. The "wackos" these 'Christians' call their Fellow dupes, err Christians.
Privitization of Military has but fed the 'Neo-Liberal' Military Industrial Complex. Wars become much easier to start, Less oversight, and Higher Costs.
The 'Falwellians' in their Zest to buy Morals thru laws have bought only corrupt politicians.
Throwing money at Corruption does not Fix Corruption. Bush Lied intentionally and he was called on that, Just like Clinton. That's Slander?
Hardly. its the Result of Lying, it makes oneself look bad. Bush Lied he Looks Bad, Self Slander Kapiche?

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 14, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Bush the Self Slandering nitwitted nattering nay-saying ninny bob

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on April 14, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

...at the time of war [Umm Iraq war Hadn't begun] ...

correctiont for one-eye:
he war was well under way when the White House exposed the covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Wilson's trip was pre-war, but the character assassination was in the summer of 2003.

Posted by: secularhuman on April 15, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

The POTUS and VPOTUS are pathological liars and partially human scum who hold nothing but total disregard for the population at large defined in their minds as "those from whom they can steal". It's a sick, arrogant mindset of entitlement.

Tbrosz, one day someone will pry the Koolaid from your cold, dead hands.

Posted by: jcricket on April 15, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

jcricket: The POTUS and VPOTUS are ... partially human

Fuck you, you arthropod. They are not.

Posted by: H. Sapien on April 15, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

You might want to take a break from the Plame stuff. You're venturing into tinfoil hat territory.

Posted by: aaron on April 15, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

I looked at this a bit ago, and there appear to be at least three documents, in addition to the NIE excerpts, that may have been subjected to declassification magic. From the filing (emphasis added)...

  1. ...on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President ... to provide what was for him an extremely rare on the record statement, and to provide background and deep background statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson. [pg. 20]
  2. In fact, on July 8, defendant spoke with Miller about Mr. Wilson after requesting that attribution of his remarks be changed to former Hill staffer. Defendant discussed with Miller the contents of a then classified CIA report which defendant characterized to Miller as having been written by Wilson. [pg. 23]
  3. ...at the time of his conversations with Miller and Cooper, he understood that only three people the President, the Vice President and defendant knew that the key judgments of the NIE had been declassified. Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials including Cabinet level officials were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE, the report about Wilsons trip and another classified document dated January 24, 2003. [pg. 24]
However:
  • It's unclear if the cable was classified, but in any case appears to be different than a then classified CIA report. (A Niger embassy report?)
  • Based on the SSCI chronolgy (pg 63-64), another classified document may a rehash of NIE "vigorous attempts to procure uranium" information; or DIA reporting on "alleged storage of uranium destined for Iraq".

Posted by: has407 on April 15, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Wait one frickin' minute.

Bush issued an Executive Order allowing himself and Cheney to declassify and reclassify documents at will?

So Bush and Cheney get to play batter, pitcher and umpire, all at once?

Are there any rules or laws or anything governing what an Executive Order can and can't do? Or is it another one of those magical devices, like the AUMF, that lets the Pres and Veep dop whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want, to whomever the hell they want?

Posted by: CaseyL on April 15, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

It is my unprofessional and imperfect understanding that "classification" is a power of the executive branch, and the president is in charge of the executive. If he wants to declassify something, apparently he can.

However (again unprofessional and imperfect) my understanding is that this is very unusual, and is based on the same sort of strict letter-of-the-law reading that also might cause you to ask, "exactly when was it that Congress declared this 'war'?" Because, in fact, they did not (though that has not stopped several presidents over the last few decades from initiating military action). But if we're being picky about the letter of the law, that's the letter of the law. And without a war, where are your "enemy combatants"?

Posted by: dr2chase on April 15, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

fake tbrosz:

You do your best, but you just look silly trying to use the big words. Get some help with them. A thesaurus is quite useful. Or maybe a friend who went to college.

The idiots who still pick fights with you, after all this time, are something else again.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 15, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin

Still praying for Plamegate to destroy the entire Republican party I see. Keep dreaming, looney boy.

The fact is that Wilson was leaking mendacious lies to the press, and conflating his Niger trip with the WMD issue. The Administration had to fight back. Releasing the NIE report to the public had ZERO effect on national security. Much of the claims made in the report were already understood by the public.

Posted by: egbert on April 15, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

What can I say.

Years of sitting in front of the computer making those ProEngineer and AutoCad drawings have made me a functional illiterate. And they never taught me modus ponens at the engineering school at Stanford.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 15, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

H. Sapien ~

Your moniker is questionable. By your vulgarity, I would estimate that you were no further developed than australopithicus -- probably the afarensis variety. Certainly not robustus.*

I believe I recall that Cheney is also quite fond of the "fuck you" expressive; or was that "fuck off"? It all seems so....I don't know.....semantic.


*Okay -- an apology to all you australopithicines out there. Consider it the best I could do at the moment.

Posted by: jcricket on April 15, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Elmo Commandeered Senator Frist's iPod

Posted by: rapscallion on April 15, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

egbert: follow tbrosz's advice to the fake tbrosz and try to restrain yourself from using big words. you're not good at them. mendaciousness, for instance, results in lies, so ``mendacious lies'' is the sort of thing an ignoramus would say. like angelic angels, or devilish devils or ignorant ignoramuses.
Likewise ``conflating'': the WMD issue and Niger are, in fact, the same issue, as the phony Niger documents were about procuring enriched uranium to make WMD. Conflating is a term you would use to describe, say, an administration that takes
the attacks by Islamic terrorists on 9/11 links them falsely with the murderous regime of a secular dictator and starts a war against the dictator; or which takes
anti-war protesters, equates them falsely with Islamic terrorists and labels the resulting conflation Democrats.

Posted by: secularhuman on April 15, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Wait. Think.

The CIA send out a spy with a political bias without the confidentiality requirements required of spies so he can create a press storm.

Wouldn't govt be allowed to declassify stuff to show he lies?

You can take whatever position you want. But if you insist the CIA has such impunity, you won't be able to stop Right-Wing CIA hires from discrediting left-wing political figures if they ever get power again.

What if a Right Wing spy came out just before the election and claimed that Hillary benefited from lobbying fees paid to Bill Clinton by terrorist nations?

Would it be right to leave the matter classified?

Posted by: McA on April 15, 2006 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Wouldn't govt be allowed to declassify stuff to show he lies?"

Uh, but he didn't lie. So you have no point.

Posted by: Joel on April 15, 2006 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK


mca: The CIA send out a spy with a political bias without the confidentiality requirements required of spies so he can create a press storm.

....and the rest of the plan was to have the president walk right into that trap by using the 16-words in the stou?


dead enders - immune to facts or irony...

Posted by: thispsaceavailable on April 15, 2006 at 7:19 AM | PERMALINK

McA on April 15, 2006 at 6:38 AM

The CIA send out a spy with a political bias without the confidentiality requirements required of spies so he can create a press storm.

Stop being a jackass. Wilson was sent on a diplomatic information-gathering mission to Niger and told the Nigerian government that he was on a diplomatic information-gathering mission. How could he have been a spy?

On a more general issue, I still have not seen anything that would suggest why outing Wilson's wife as a CIA agent would discredit him. This "discredit" silliness is just a diversion and does not detract from the veracity of his report.

Posted by: raj on April 15, 2006 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

*Sigh* Study up, McA. Wilson was a diplomat. His wife was the spy. And she worked for me and the rest of the American taxpayers. Our money recruited her, trained her, and paid her salary. There is no indication that her cover was ever compromised, and there is no indication that her work as an undercover operative and as a weapons analyst was ever anything less than exemplary.

For a petty, cloying political reason, one of my best employees got shafted.

Better spin-doctors please.

Posted by: Global Citizen on April 15, 2006 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

So how does one find out if a document is currently classified or not?

I'm thinking a good lefty action item would be to gather a list of documents known to have been classified in the past, and believed to still be so - and bombard the White House switchboard with calls inquiring about whether the President might have declassified them at some time.

Posted by: RT on April 15, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

On another topic, I just saw TPM Muckraker's piece about Norquist's American's for Tax Reform org as a lobbying front. ATR is a 501(c)(4) organization, and that reminded me of Nicholas Confessore's piece in the May 2004 Washington Monthly about GOP abuse of 501(c) orgs for electioneering purposes.

The GOP is pushing to 'reform' (i.e. hamstring) 527s, and papers like the WaPo are talking about what a great thing that is, while not even mentioning the 501(c)'s. Seems like the Dems should be saying that as part of any deal, the 501(c)'s ought to at least be forced to identify their donors.

Posted by: RT on April 15, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz writes: "the time of war against the entities whose declared goal is to destroy us."

When did Iraq or Saddam declare it their goal to destroy the US?

One more question, What should the declassification policy be? I would think that one would weigh the benefit of allowing the public to know the information versus the potential harm the information could do if revealed. What we see from this administration is simply a political calculation of what the impact is on public perception of the administration. In other words, what is despicable is the disclosure of classified information to attack critics and misiniform the public by revealing only that information which supports the administration positions while preventing that information that undermines their position from being released. That is an abuse of power, plain and simple, and has been systematically practiced by this administration.

Posted by: tim on April 15, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

One question about declassifying the NIE。

In 2003 Bush signed an executive order sharing his declassification authority with Cheney.

When Libby was told to share parts of the NIE with Judith Miller, there was this Kabuki about "the President wanted it released" (according to Cheney as reported by Libby) and Addington said that presidential desire was de facto declassification.

Why didn't Cheney declassify the NIE himself, since he had the power? What did I miss here?

Posted by: peter on April 15, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

One quick way to get to the bottom of this charade is to use the only Constitutional remedy for executive branch abuse, and that is to file Articles of Impeachment against Richard Bruce Cheney and George Walker Bush.

I intend to send an e-mail to my Representative today, urging him, in the strongest terms, to do just that. I urge every American who respects the Constitution and the laws of this great land, to do the same. TODAY!

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 15, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

...did Cheney hastily "declassify"?

Only Bush can declassify this stuff.

So the question remains, when did Bush declassify this info? When the bossman Dick Cheney told Bush to do it - AND was that sometime after Wilson and wife had already been attacked by Libby's leaking to press?

If Americans needed to know "the truth" as Bush put it - why did Dick Cheney hide behind Novak and Miller? This wasn't disclosed - it was leak to Bush faithfuls in the press.

Posted by: Cheryl on April 15, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

If the people conducting intelligence operations still believe their activities are classified then where is the Presidential Directive that permits selective declassification of classified intelligence documents having to do with WMDs? If there is such a document, how did it come about? To what purpose? I think that the supporters of the Gang-in-Charge need to ask themselves exactly how good government comes from selective disclosure of politically motivated hit pieces using government funds...or, perhaps, as the case is more likely, they don't actually care about good government and more care about soaking the People by fattening up at the Public Trough.

In which case, it's Treason and Impeachment or Fleeing that seems to be the order of the day.

Posted by: parrot on April 15, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I have been told that there is an Executive Order that allows the POTUS and VPOTUS to declassify secret documents for a specific purpose. Clearly in this case the object was to ascertain that the public understands the motivation of the person who was slandering the Commander-in-Chief at the time of war against the entities whose declared goal is to destroy us.

Isn't that amazing? These repukeliscum are perfectly happy to see King Turrdboy and Vice King Dickhead USING POLITICAL POWERS TO DAMAGE THEIR ENEMIES WHILE DESTROYING CIA ASSETS.

Why are the repukeliscum happy to see CIA assets being destroyed?

tbrosz, you are a traitor.

Posted by: POed Lib on April 15, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure someone has done a FOIA request for Wilson's report. If it was denied that would be an interesting document to enter in court.

A new category: Declassified AND Classified

Posted by: tomtom on April 15, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure of course that Big Dick has the authority to immediately reclassify the trip report after declassifying it in order to leak it.

Reminds me of Bart Simpson's "I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove a thing, I promise I'll never do it again."

Posted by: melior on April 15, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

This is just a basic dishonesty to the left's claims about what Libby allegedly leaked. Kevin says it was to "get back" at Wilson. Others casually argue it was for political motives.

The "leaks" may have been wrong or stupid (they apparently were not illegal since Fitzgerald says not a word about them), but they were to refute blowhard Wilson's claim that the president had lied about Niger. The administration was perfectly entitled to push back on Wilson's claim.

It is so hard to get an honest discussion going about this issue or most others. For example, the lefties also all ignore Wilson's obvious credibility problems and the fact that most of those who listened to his oral report felt it supported the admininstration view. They also ignore that the "leak" was fairly routine stuff, misleading given legs by the nonsense about Plame being a covert agent while she drove to work at the CIA every day.

Posted by: brian on April 15, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Stop being a jackass." ~raj to McA

You really are a dreamer, raj.

Posted by: Ace Franze on April 15, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Here is some interesting and persuasive information from National Review that, among other things, makes an interesting point -- Wilson was going around talking about what was supposedly a classified report.

National Review:
In other words, the classified nature of Wilson's trip was a one-way street. The CIA left Wilson free to talk about his trip, which he did most famously in an op-ed in the New York Times in which he wrote, "Based on my experience... I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

So if Wilson's "experience" as documented in his CIA debriefing was so damaging to Bush's case for war, why would Cheney authorize Scooter Libby to discuss its contents with reporters? Again, the Senate committee's report has the answers:

The intelligence report based on the former ambassador's trip was disseminated on March 8, 2002.... The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."

In other words, the CIA report on Wilson's trip supported the president's claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger, and contradicted Wilson's allegation that Bush twisted the intelligence.

In the summer of 2003, Wilson talked about the details of his Niger trip to anyone who would listen. Yet Waas and his sycophants would have you believe that Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby crossed the line when they told reporters that actual CIA records contradicted Wilson's claims.

Posted by: brian on April 15, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

fake tbrosz:

I didn't go to Stanford. I couldn't afford any school out of my own state.

Wonder what you do for a living?

BTW, modus ponus seems to be about as complex an argument as you can handle. It's also very vulnerable to "garbage in, garbage out," which isn't a logic term, but one I'm more familiar with.

For way too many people, if their mind was a logic diagram, there would be an "input," and "output," and a fat black arrow connecting the two.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 15, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Since Bush can declassify, a release ordered by him would be fine. However, I will give the fanatics hope. One day Bush may be impeached. If they didn't bother to take the steps to officially declassifying the documents, he could be impeached. But it would be less severe/significant than a lying about a blowjob in court type of impeachment. Skipping the paperwork isn't grounds for removal from office.

It's like if someone forgot to remove a covert status from someone's file who wasn't covert anymore (I'm not saying that happened).

Thing is, no one thought that we went to war because Saddam bought Uranium. I doubt that many people actually thought that Saddam had purchased Uranium from Africa. At the time, I believe the consensus was, as later stated by Bush in his SOtU speech, that Saddad had sought Uranium. The public was aware the documents were not authenticated and were likely frauds before the speech. It was simply confirmed in March.

Posted by: aaron on April 15, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

You might want to take a break from the Plame stuff. You're venturing into tinfoil hat territory.

Posted by: Greg on April 15, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"TBROSZ: I have been told that there is an Executive Order that allows the POTUS and VPOTUS to declassify secret documents for a specific purpose."

Yeah, they DEclassify it in order to leak it and defame Wilson and his wife to protect their phony baloney jobs (as Mayor LePetomaine described them in Blazing Saddles). They they REclassify them pronto, no problemo, cuz they can do what they damn like, according out our esteemed Attorney General.


Posted by: Cal Gal on April 15, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"but they were to refute blowhard Wilson's claim that the president had lied about Niger. "

What the wing-nuts never explain, in this scenario, is just HOW it refutes Wilson's findings to say that his wife had something to do with sending him.

So f***ing what? So what if his MOTHER sent him? He still had the experience and the connections. He still found what he found. He still reported it. And Cheney still knew, no matter how many times he said he didn't.

Picture our brave and savvy VPOTUS, sitting in his bunker, asking his little assistant, Scooter, "What do we have on this guy?" And ALL they can come up with is "his wife sent him?"

I mean, really. That is SOOOOO lame.

Posted by: cal gal on April 15, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

My head is exploding.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 15, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

"My head is exploding." - tbrosz

I'm praying the pieces won't fall on me. But other than that, all I can say is: Kewl! Can I watch?

Posted by: RT on April 15, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

brian: This is just a basic dishonesty to the left's claims about what Libby allegedly leaked. Kevin says it was to "get back" at Wilson. Others casually argue it was for political motives.

What's the difference?

The "leaks" may have been wrong or stupid (they apparently were not illegal since Fitzgerald says not a word about them), but they were to refute blowhard Wilson's claim that the president had lied about Niger. The administration was perfectly entitled to push back on Wilson's claim.

The problem, of course, is the selective use of what was in the leaked/partially declassified documents. It's one thing to selectively quote a source to make your argument sound better than it is, but at least with most sources, everyone else can check for themselves and see if your source really does as much for your argument as you'd like people to believe. It's still dishonest, but at least there's a remedy.

When the Executive branch cites classified documents in such a manner, we have no such recourse. When the Pres or Veep declassifies just enough of an NIE to make it look like Wilson's lying, though the whole thing would show he was telling the truth, it's not just intellectually dishonest - it's an abuse of power. The Executive's custody of classified materials is an area where, when the Executive says, "trust me," we have to be able to. If he exercises his custody for partisan ends, he's abused his office.

It is so hard to get an honest discussion going about this issue or most others.

I've noticed.

Posted by: RT on April 15, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, c'mon, Kev! If Big Time tells Scooter to leak it, it's declassified! "Inherent authority" and Preznishul Directives 'n' all, dontcha know? 'Nuf said! Get with the program.

Posted by: gary1 on April 15, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Those 16 words have been pretty well deconstructed. A great ' dog that didn't bark clue' re the yellowcake is Powell saying it's ' bullshit' and he's not going to read it.
So when do we go to work on the next 20 or so words?
These relate to the tubes that are needed to process the yellowcake and a good intro might be ' Judy's little tubes of terror'by James Moore at Huffpo.
No harm in Fisking this apart and remember this is half of the binary weapon that is the biggest part of the BIG LIE that got us all into this mess in the first place.
Support for the proposed illegal aggressive invasion of SW Asia was flagging in 2002 when they cooked up this ' mushroom clouds' binary lie.
Technically they should all be hung for this - or shot - under the Nuremberg precendent regarding the ' supreme crime' of using a big lie technique to wage aggresive war.
I mean Team Bush really all need to be shoved into Slobo's old cell at the Hague don't they?

Chimpeachment now - the whole worlds waiting.

Posted by: professor rat on April 15, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Brian, you aren't really trying this idiot crap at this late date: the duelfur report has demonstrated, beyond shadow of a doubt, that there was no attempt to purchase uranium in niger, meaning that wilson was 100% correct.

Far more important, the notion that Mayaki vouched for an attempt to purchase uranium is, of course, an unfounded conclusion from the actual facts, as is the notion that the CIA report on Wilson's trip "supported" the notion that Saddam was trying to acquire uranium.

The willful blindness of the bush enablers, like brian, am, and McA continues to set new records of derangement. How will the historians understand the willingness of people with enough intelligence to operate a computer forcing themselves to believe such obvious crap?

Posted by: howard on April 15, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

RT is respectful, although I think mistaken beause the whole NIE did not support that Wilson was telling the truth. Heck, even Wilson acknowledges that his leak was wrong (i.e., not truthful) in claiming that he had discoverd phony documents. I don't know why this is so hard for everyone. There was evidence that Saddam was tying to secure uranium, some of it provided by Wilson. Some of the evidence turned out to be fraudulent. Other evidence apparently remains credible. And none of this has to do with what eveyone originally was so charged up about - blowing the cover of the alleged covert super agent Plame. And just because you folks hate bush and agree with Wilson, everything Wilson leaks and says is great. Whew.

Howard, sounds like that blogger in the WAPO today, certain about everything and pretty mean about it (although not as bad as her).

Posted by: brian on April 16, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Brian, you can it "mean" if you want, although "disdainful" would be more like it. Anyone who interprets the 1999 contact as an attempt to purchase uranium is either a blinded propagandist or a liar. There is no other choice. Your representation of the facts of the Wilson mission, the NIE, and associated matters is simply ill-informed at best and deliberately mendacious at worst. Read the Duelfur report, why doncha? there's no meaningful evidence of Saddam attempting to obtain uranium because he frickin' wasn't.

Now, i have long thought that the outing of Plame as such was inadvertent, in the sense that it was collateral damage to the White House's true intention: to shut down any attempt to look seriously at the bu(sh)it case it made on nuclear weapons. But that's neither here nor there when it comes to the essential facts of saddam, niger, and uranium.

Posted by: howard on April 16, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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