Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who sent Wilson?

Did Valerie Plame suggest her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, for the trip to investigate claims that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger?

Walter Pincus has an excellent story which organizes all the known facts regarding who sent Wilson to Niger.

This has been a contentious issue but mostly for those trying to score political points. It has been raised most often by conservatives attempting to discredit Wilson's criticism of the administration.

The CIA and Wilson maintain that while Plame was involved in process, Wilson's name was chosen by others. Defenders of the administration's use of the uranium story (since proven incorrect, as Wilson's critical New York Times op-ed stated) claim that Plame sent her husband in order to discredit the administration.

What can be said for sure is that Plame did not have the power to send her husband and Wilson's criticism of the administration's use of the report he put together was proven correct very quickly. In fact, CIA Director George Tenet had his hand forced and took responsibility for the inclusion of uranium procurement claims even though the CIA and State Department worked hard to keep the claim out of the President's State of the Union speech.

Pincus' piece breaks down the timeline as well as showing that there is some good evidence that Plame, in fact, did suggest her husband for the trip despite Wilson's claim that he was picked by others.

Certainly administration defenders will jump on this, but the question of who sent Wilson is immaterial. Wilson was the last U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and had contacts in Africa and was well regarded by President Bush's father, Herbert Walker Bush. He was well qualified to lead such an investigation.

Wilson went public with the fact that his trip was being manipulated to support false claims and he and his wife were attacked as a result. They were attacked for being credible critics of the administration's fabrications.

- Murphy


Anonymous said...

'Wilson went public with the fact that his trip was being manipulated to support false claims and he and his wife were attacked as a result. They were attacked for being credible critics of the administration's fabrications.'

Wilson went pubic because he was scared of what they would do to him. He was being used by an
operations officer at CIA, Valerie Plame. The denial at CIA is Plame was not using her 'informant' Wilson. Plame admitted she was an operations officer (OOps) at CIA paramilitrily trained at the 'the farm'- for cash. She chose to do this at Vanity Fair Magazine because of Vanity Fair the movie, which she considered a portrayal of a female in intelligence(a lot like Sarah Shayes(Chayes) of NPR and Mercy Corps, and Hillary Clinton.

Murphy said...

I am not sure how Wilson was an "informer" in all of this. He was asked by the CIA to follow-up on a report of potential negotiations between Iraq and Niger for uranium.

The report was based upon papers that were later proven to be fakes and entered the intelligence network through the Italian Intelligence community.

Wilson returned and wrote a report that said there had been contact between Iraq and Niger and the topic of yellowcake uranium had come up. However, there was no evidence for recent followups and any meaningful contact had ended years earlier. There was no evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger and evidence increasingly pointed to bad source information, the faked memos from Italian Intelligence.

The CIA may certainly have been angry that the bad information made it into the SOTU speech, but they and Director Tenet were willing to publicly take the lumps for the inclusion, despite having no control over the final decision. There certainly may have been some smiles over the heartburn the Plame case must be causing in the administration, but instead of lashing out the agency knuckled under, took blame for things out of its control and went back to work.

I am unsure about the legal points (I remember Josh Marshall breaking it down once), but I think that once your identity and occupation has been exposed to the world for political profit, the secret compartmentalization and potential penalties no longer apply.