July 17, 2004

Protestwarrior.Com Poster Images

Clayton Cramer refers us to a marvellous website of slogans for conservative bumper stickers and protest signs. Maybe I'll add more later, when I have more time. See the thumbnail images at www.protestwarrior.com.
Posted by erasmuse at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

The Plame-Wilson Affair: Wilson Lied

Clifford May at NRO has the best coverage of the unsurprising vindication of the conservative (or just non-alarmist?) view of the Plame-Wilson affair. (See my posts on Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, and French trickery. ) Mr. May's article should be read in its entirety, but here is what I found new:
But now Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV — he of the Hermes ties and Jaguar convertibles — has been thoroughly discredited. Last week's bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report concluded that it is he who has been telling lies.

For starters, he has insisted that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, was not the one who came up with the brilliant idea that the agency send him to Niger to investigate whether Saddam Hussein had been attempting to acquire uranium. "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson says in his book. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." In fact, the Senate panel found, she was the one who got him that assignment. The panel even found a memo by her. (She should have thought to use disappearing ink.)

Wilson spent a total of eight days in Niger "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people," as he put it. On the basis of this "investigation" he confidently concluded that there was no way Saddam sought uranium from Africa. Oddly, Wilson didn't bother to write a report saying this. Instead he gave an oral briefing to a CIA official.

Oddly, too, as an investigator on assignment for the CIA he was not required to keep his mission and its conclusions confidential. And for the New York Times , he was happy to put pen to paper, to write an op-ed charging the Bush administration with "twisting," "manipulating" and "exaggerating" intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs "to justify an invasion."

In particular he said that President Bush was lying when, in his 2003 State of the Union address, he pronounced these words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

We now know for certain that Wilson was wrong and that Bush's statement was entirely accurate.


Yes, there were fake documents relating to Niger-Iraq sales. But no, those forgeries were not the evidence that convinced British intelligence that Saddam may have been shopping for "yellowcake" uranium. On the contrary, according to some intelligence sources, the forgery was planted in order to be discovered — as a ruse to discredit the story of a Niger-Iraq link, to persuade people there were no grounds for the charge.

But that's not all. The Butler report, yet another British government inquiry, also is expected to conclude this week that British intelligence was correct to say that Saddam sought uranium from Niger.

And in recent days, the Financial Times has reported that illicit sales of uranium from Niger were indeed being negotiated with Iraq, as well as with four other states.

According to the FT: "European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq."

There's still more: As Susan Schmidt reported — back on page A9 of Saturday's Washington Post: "Contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence."

The Senate report says fairly bluntly that Wilson lied to the media. Schmidt notes that the panel found that, "Wilson provided misleading information to the Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on a document that had clearly been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.'"

The problem is Wilson "had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel discovered. Schmidt notes: "The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger."


Schmidt adds that the Senate panel was alarmed to find that the CIA never "fully investigated possible efforts by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger destined for Iraq and stored in a warehouse in Benin."


... Now that we know that Mrs. Wilson did recommend Mr. Wilson for the Niger assignment, can we not infer that she was working at CIA headquarters in Langley rather than as an undercover operative in some front business or organization somewhere?

As I suggested in another NRO piece (Spy Games), if that is the case — if she was not working undercover and if the CIA was not taking measures to protect her cover — no law was broken by columnist Bob Novak in naming her, or by whoever told Novak that she worked for the CIA.


In 1991, Wilson's book jacket boasts, President George H.W. Bush praised Wilson as "a true American hero," and he was made an ambassador. But for some reason, he was assigned not to Cairo, Paris, or Moscow, places where you put the best and the brightest, nor was he sent to Bermuda or Luxembourg, places you send people you want to reward. Instead, he was sent to Gabon, a diplomatic backwater of the first rank.

After that, he says in his memoir, "I had risen about as high as I could in the Foreign Service and decided it was time to retire." Well, that's not exactly accurate either. He could have been given a more important posting, such as Kenya or South Africa, or he could have been promoted higher in the senior Foreign Service (he made only the first of four grades). Instead, he was evidently (according to my sources) forced into involuntary retirement at 48. (The minimum age for voluntary retirement in the Foreign Service is 50.) After that, he seems to have made quite a bit of money — doing what for whom is unclear and I wish the Senate committee had attempted to find out.

It would be interesting to see which of Wilson's many defenders in the blogosphere have commented on the discovery that he was lying-- something they vehemently denied earlier.
Posted by erasmuse at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

The CIA versus Vice-President Cheney

I've found another example of the curious battle between the Administration and the intelligence bureaucracy-- see, e.g, the Plame story and the King op-ed. In this case, the vice- president cited a Weekly Standard article based on a famous leaked memo from the Defense Department to Congress, and "senior intelligence officials", probably from the CIA or State Department, claim to know nothing about it. Brad DeLong writes
How Delusional Is Richard Cheney?

Robert Waldmann points us to a Dana Milbank story that says that Richard Cheney is highly delusional:

washingtonpost.com: Cheney, Bush Tout Gains in Terror War: Countering the staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which found no "collaborative relationship" between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda, Cheney renewed his accusation that they had "long-established ties." He listed several examples and stated: "In the early 1990s, Saddam had sent a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service to Sudan to train al Qaeda in bombmaking and document forgery."

Senior intelligence officials said yesterday that they had no knowledge of this.

Professor DeLong notes that "senior intelligence officials" work for the Administration, and wonders if the Vice-President is delusional. My immediate reaction was, "Well, this isn't the first terrorist action that senior intelligence officials know nothing about. They usually seem to be three steps behind the press, Moreover, they hate Cheney, and Cheney despises the CIA." From the comment section of Professor DeLong's post, we find:
10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al- Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al- Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs-- remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.
That's from the Feith summary.

And before you say it, no, the DOD never questioned the accuracy of Hayes's report - they in fact confirmed its accurary and sources. The DOD only questioned the conclusions which Hayes drew from that raw intelligence.

So. Now who is delusional?
Posted by am at July 3, 2004 11:19 PM

"So. Now who is delusional?"

Posted by Brian Boru at July 4, 2004 12:08 AM

No, that report was a summary of many intelligence reports from CIA, DIA, foreign and other agencies. All Feith did was to pull it together and present it to a congressional committee. The accuracy and fairness with which it chose and represented those reports has never been challenged.

Try again.
Posted by am at July 4, 2004 03:07 AM
The Feith memo was leaked to the Weekly Standard and reported on in November 2003 :
OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points-- Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact- based intelligence reporting, which some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source.

At the top of the Weekly Standard article it says,
Editor's Note, 1/27/04: In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reported that "Vice President Cheney . . . in an interview this month with the Rocky Mountain News, recommended as the 'best source of information' an article in The Weekly Standard magazine detailing a relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda based on leaked classified information."
The "senior intelligence officials" surely knew of the Feith memo and the Weekly Standard article. But they said "they had no knowledge of this," presumably as a way to try to embarass Cheney. The Administration is playing a dangerous game. It is trying to conduct a strong foreign policy in delicate foreign circumstances against heavy partisan domestic opposition while at the same time hoping-- if perhaps not yet trying-- to reform the two dysfunctional agencies-- the Defence Department and the CIA-- which are most important to the strong policies. The policies moreover are opposed by the third agency most involved-- the State Department-- though I don't recall any signs that the Administration is out to threaten the comfort of any career bureaucrats there. Rumsfeld and Cheney are perhaps the two major reformers, so we should expect to see lots of attacks on them from inside the bureaucracy.
Posted by erasmuse at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack