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Saturday July 17, 2004

Here's Mark Steyn on the lying liars and the enabling media who allow the American people to be buffaloed:

...That's what lying is, by the way: intentional deceit, not unreliable intelligence. And I'm not usually the sort to bandy the liar-liar-pants-on-fire charge beloved by so many in our politics today, but I'll make an exception in the case of Wilson, who's never been shy about the term. He called Bush a "liar" and he called Cheney a "lying sonofabitch," on stage at a John Kerry rally in Iowa.

Saddam wanted yellowcake for one reason: to strike at his neighbors in the region, and beyond that at Britain, America and his other enemies. In other words, he wanted the uranium in order to kill you.

The obvious explanation for Wilson's deceit about what he found in Africa is that his hatred of Bush outweighed everything else. Or as the novelist and Internet maestro Roger L. Simon put it, "He is a deeply evil human being willing to lie and obfuscate for temporary political gain about a homicidal dictator's search for weapons-grade uranium."

Technically, it's weaponizable uranium, not "weapons grade." But that's the point. Simon isn't the expert, and, as Ambassador Wilson trumpets loudly and often, he is. This isn't a case of another Michael Moore, court buffoon to the Senate Democrats, or Whoopi Goldberg, has-been potty-mouth to John Kerry. They're in show biz; what do they know?

But Wilson does know; he went there, he talked to officials, and he lied about America's national security in order to be the anti-Bush crowd's Playmate of the Month. Either he's profoundly wicked or he's as deranged as that woman on the Paris Metro last week who falsely claimed to have been the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. The Paris crazy was unmasked within a few days, but the Niger crazy was lionized for a full year.

Also, here's Joe Wilson's letter of clarification to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: (I have copied it in full so you don't have to sit through an ad for the Salon Seminar Cruise featuring, yes Joe Wilson).

I read with great surprise and consternation the Niger portion of Sens. Roberts, Bond and Hatch's additional comments to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Assessment on Iraq. I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of the issues raised in these comments.

First conclusion: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."

That is not true. The conclusion is apparently based on one anodyne quote from a memo Valerie Plame, my wife, sent to her superiors that says, "My husband has good relations with the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip. Indeed it is little more than a recitation of my contacts and bona fides. The conclusion is reinforced by comments in the body of the report that a CPD [Counterproliferation Division] reports officer stated that "the former ambassador's wife 'offered up his name'" (page 39) and a State Department intelligence and research officer stated that the "meeting was 'apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch him to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."

In fact, Valerie was not in the meeting at which the subject of my trip was raised. Neither was the CPD reports officer. After having escorted me into the room, she [Valerie] departed the meeting to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. It was at that meeting where the question of my traveling to Niger was broached with me for the first time and came only after a thorough discussion of what the participants did and did not know about the subject. My bona fides justifying the invitation to the meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger to look at other uranium-related questions as well as 20 years living and working in Africa, and personal contacts throughout the Niger government. Neither the CPD reports officer nor the State analyst were in the chain of command to know who, or how, the decision was made. The interpretations attributed to them are not the full story. In fact, it is my understanding that the reports officer has a different conclusion about Valerie's role than the one offered in the "additional comments." I urge the committee to reinterview the officer and publicly publish his statement.

It is unfortunate that the report failed to include the CIA's position on this matter. If the staff had done so it would undoubtedly have been given the same evidence as provided to Newsday reporters Tim Phelps and Knut Royce in July 2003. They reported on July 22 that:

"A senior intelligence officer confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked 'alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger. But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. 'They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,' he said. 'There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,' he said. 'I can't figure out what it could be.' 'We paid his [Wilson's] airfare. But to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit. Most people you'd have to pay big bucks to go there,' the senior intelligence official said. Wilson said he was reimbursed only for expenses." (Newsday article "Columnist Blows CIA Agent's Cover," dated July 22, 2003).

In fact, on July 13 of this year, David Ensor, the CNN correspondent, did call the CIA for a statement of its position and reported that a senior CIA official confirmed my account that Valerie did not propose me for the trip:

"'She did not propose me,' he [Wilson] said -- others at the CIA did so. A senior CIA official said that is his understanding too."

Second conclusion: "Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided."

This conclusion states that I told the committee staff that I "may have become confused about my own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that the names and dates on the documents were not correct." At the time that I was asked that question, I was not afforded the opportunity to review the articles to which the staff was referring. I have now done so.

On March 7, 2003, the director general of the IAEA reported to the U.N. Security Council that the documents that had been given to him were "not authentic." His deputy, Jacques Baute, was even more direct, pointing out that the forgeries were so obvious that a quick Google search would have exposed their flaws. A State Department spokesman was quoted the next day as saying about the forgeries, "We fell for it." From that time on the details surrounding the documents became public knowledge and were widely reported. I was not the source of information regarding the forensic analysis of the documents in question; the IAEA was.

The first time I spoke publicly about the Niger issue was in response to the State Department's disclaimer. On CNN a few days later, in response to a question, I replied that I believed the U.S. government knew more about the issue than the State Department spokesman had let on and that he had misspoken. I did not speak of my trip.

My first public statement was in my article of July 6 published in the New York Times, written only after it became apparent that the administration was not going to deal with the Niger question unless it was forced to. I wrote the article because I believed then, and I believe now, that it was important to correct the record on the statement in the president's State of the Union address which lent credence to the charge that Iraq was actively reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. I believed that the record should reflect the facts as the U.S. government had known them for over a year. The contents of my article do not appear in the body of the report and it is not quoted in the "additional comments." In that article, I state clearly that "as for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors -- they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government -- and were probably forged. (And then there's the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.)"

The first time I actually saw what were represented as the documents was when Andrea Mitchell, the NBC correspondent, handed them to me in an interview on July 21. I was not wearing my glasses and could not read them. I have to this day not read them. I would have absolutely no reason to claim to have done so. 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.

The text of the "additional comments" also asserts that "during Mr. Wilson's media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had 'debunked' the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa."

My article in the New York Times makes clear that I attributed to myself "a small role in the effort to verify information about Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nonconventional weapons programs." After it became public that there were then-Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick's report and the report from a four-star Marine Corps general, Carleton Fulford, in the files of the U.S. government, I went to great lengths to point out that mine was but one of three reports on the subject. I never claimed to have "debunked" the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. I claimed only that the transaction described in the documents that turned out to be forgeries could not have occurred and did not occur. I did not speak out on the subject until several months after it became evident that what underpinned the assertion in the State of the Union address were those documents, reports of which had sparked Vice President Cheney's original question that led to my trip. The White House must have agreed. The day after my article appeared in the Times a spokesman for the president told the Washington Post that "the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union."

I have been very careful to say that while I believe that the use of the 16 words in the State of the Union address was a deliberate attempt to deceive the Congress of the United States, I do not know what role the president may have had other than he has accepted responsibility for the words he spoke. I have also said on many occasions that I believe the president has proven to be far more protective of his senior staff than they have been to him.

The "additional comments" also assert: "The Committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador's report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger-Iraq uranium deal." In fact, the body of the Senate report suggests the exact opposite:

In August 2002, a CIA NESA [Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis] report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities did not include the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium information. (page 48)

In September 2002, during coordination of a speech with an NSC staff member, the CIA analyst suggested the reference to Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Africa be removed. The CIA analyst said the NSC staff member said that would leave the British "flapping in the wind." (page 50)

The uranium text was included in the body of the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] but not in the key judgments. When someone suggested that the uranium information be included as another sign of reconstitution, the INR [State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] Iraq nuclear analyst spoke up and said the he did not agree with the uranium reporting and that INR would be including text indicating their disagreement in their footnote on nuclear reconstitution. The NIO [national intelligence officer] said he did not recall anyone really supporting including the uranium issue as part of the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, so he suggested that the uranium information did not need to be part of the key judgments. He told committee staff that he suggested, "We'll leave it in the paper for completeness. Nobody can say we didn't connect the dots. But we don't have to put that dot in the key judgments." (page 53)

On Oct. 2, 2002, the Deputy DCI [director of central intelligence] testified before the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]. Sen. Jon Kyl asked the Deputy DCI whether he had read the British White Paper and whether he disagreed with anything in the report. The Deputy DCI testified that "the one thing where I think they stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations." (page 54)

On Oct. 4, 2002, the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs testified that "there is some information on attempts ... there's a question about those attempts because of the control of the material in those countries ... For us it's more the concern that they [Iraq] have uranium in-country now." (page 54)

On Oct. 5, 2002, the ADDI [associate deputy director for intelligence] said an Iraqi nuclear analyst -- he could not remember who -- raised concerns about the sourcing and some of the facts of the Niger reporting, specifically that the control of the mines in Niger would have made it very difficult to get yellowcake to Iraq. (page 55)

Based on the analyst's comments, the ADDI faxed a memo to the deputy national security advisor that said, "Remove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from this source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory." (page 56)

On Oct. 6, 2002, the DCI called the deputy national security advisor directly to outline the CIA's concerns. The DCI testified to the SSCI on July 16, 2003, that he told the deputy national security advisor that the "President should not be a fact witness on this issue," because his analysts had told him the "reporting was weak." (page 56)

On Oct. 6, 2002, the CIA sent a second fax to the White House that said, "More on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points (1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. (2) The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. And (3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British." (page 56)

On March 8, 2003, the intelligence report on my trip was disseminated within the U.S. government, according to the Senate report (page 43). Further, the Senate report states that "in early March, the Vice President asked his morning briefer for an update on the Niger uranium issue." That update from the CIA "also noted that the CIA would be debriefing a source who may have information related to the alleged sale on March 5." The report then states the "DO officials also said they alerted WINPAC [Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control] analysts when the report was being disseminated because they knew the high priority of the issue." The report notes that the CIA briefer did not brief the vice president on the report. (page 46)

It is clear from the body of the Senate report that the intelligence community, including the DCI himself, made several attempts to ensure that the president did not become a "fact witness" on an allegation that was so weak. A thorough reading of the report substantiates the claim made in my opinion piece in the New York Times and in subsequent interviews I have given on the subject. The 16 words should never have been in the State of the Union address, as the White House now acknowledges.

I undertook this mission at the request of my government in response to a legitimate concern that Saddam Hussein was attempting to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program. This was a national security issue that has concerned me since I was the deputy chief of mission in the U.S. Embassy in Iraq before and during the first Gulf War.

At the time of my trip I was in private business and had not offered my views publicly on the policy we should adopt toward Iraq. Indeed, throughout the debate in the run-up to the war, I took the position that the U.S. be firm with Saddam Hussein on the question of weapons of mass destruction programs, including backing tough diplomacy with the credible threat of force. In that debate I never mentioned my trip to Niger. I did not share the details of my trip until May 2003, after the war was over, and then only when it became clear that the administration was not going to address the issue of the State of the Union statement.

It is essential that the errors and distortions in the additional comments be corrected for the public record. Nothing could be more important for the American people than to have an accurate picture of the events that led to the decision to bring the United States into war in Iraq. The Senate Intelligence Committee has an obligation to present to the American people the factual basis of that process. I hope that this letter is helpful in that effort. I look forward to your further "additional comments." Sincerely, Joseph C. Wilson IV, Washington, D.C.

Friday July 16, 2004

How safe are we, really?

After seeing 14 Middle Eastern men board separately (six together, eight individually) and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified...

Suddenly, seven of the men stood up -- in unison -- and walked to the front and back lavatories. One by one, they went into the two lavatories, each spending about four minutes inside. Right in front of us, two men stood up against the emergency exit door, waiting for the lavatory to become available. The men spoke in Arabic among themselves and to the man in the yellow shirt sitting nearby. One of the men took his camera into the lavatory. Another took his cell phone. Again, no one approached the men. Not one of the flight attendants asked them to sit down. I watched as the man in the yellow shirt, still in his seat, reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small red book. He read a few pages, then put the book back inside his shirt. He pulled the book out again, read a page or two more, and put it back. He continued to do this several more times.

UPDATE: Lots more discussion on this subject over at Michelle Malkin's blog and (of course) at InstaPundit.

UPDATE II: from Michelle Malkin's blog:

3:24pm. Just got off the phone with Annie Jacobsen. She has been writing business reports and articles for and print magazines for the past two years. Recounting the flight, she told me "My legs were like rubber...It was four and a half hours of terror." She is working on a follow-up story for on Monday and will appear on NBC Nightly News Monday night. I asked how she felt about suspicions that her story had been a hoax. She hadn't heard of these suspicions and instead has been hearing overwhelming corroboration of her experience in thousands of e-mails, many from pilots and flight attendants reporting similar incidents. She has been shocked that "for whatever reason, the story didn't develop" in the mainstream media.

Condoleeza Rice in today's USA Today saying that we truly are safer:

...None disputes that Saddam Hussein had contacts with and ties to terrorists. None disputes that he possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), used them against innocents, desired to resume their production and had capabilities that would have let him do so over time. None disputes his 12-year history of deceit, obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections or material breach of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. And no one disputes his failure to prove he had destroyed his WMD stockpiles as required by U.N. Resolution 1441.

In choosing a course of action in Iraq, President Bush had to consider these facts and answer simple questions: Could the international community continue to accept Saddam's 12-year defiance of its will, or would the world be safer if the word of the United Nations were seen to count and have consequences? Could the U.S., in the post-9/11 world, continue to hope for the best from Saddam, or would America be safer with his removal? The president and an international coalition concluded that Saddam had to go, and events since his removal have proved this judgment right. Iraq is no longer supporting terrorists, threatening the region or pursuing WMD.

Our efforts in Iraq have been critical to success in the global war on terror. Afghanistan today is an emerging democracy, no longer providing sanctuary to al-Qaeda. Libya's Moammar Gadhafi has surrendered his nuclear-weapons program. Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's secret nuclear-proliferation network, which sold technology and know-how to some of the world's most dangerous regimes, has been exposed. And the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are U.S. allies in the fight to root out terrorism. All of these developments have made America and the world safer places.

As democracy gains in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are reminded that no democratic nation in the world threatens America. Saddam's removal has advanced peace and democracy throughout the broader Middle East. America and the world are clearly safer with this tyrant in the jail cell he has earned.

So, are we really safer or not? The answer, I believe, depends on your view. You see, the previous two posts illustrate two sides of the same coin (Yes friends, it's the safety coin). Tactical safety v.s. Strategic safety. In an open and free society, our ability to defend ourselves from every individual terrorist (or groups of terrorists) is exceedingly difficult--and made even harder by the cult of political correctness. The case of Israel points this out quite clearly. But the case of Israel also points out that there a many things a state can to to improve it's strategic safety (i.e. the fence). I believe that, post 9/11, that's what President Bush has done. He has acted to increase our strategic safety. After all, that should be a President's primary focus: strategic planning. That's where the power of the Presidency has the most leverage. Tactical matters are best left to others.

First Condi, now Colin:

So our strategy has been rather clear for these last three years and will continue in the same vein, to make sure that we defend the peace. We defend the peace by going after terrorists where they are. We defend the nation by putting in place the right kind of security on our borders, but at the same time, making sure that we remain a welcoming nation. And every day, we try to find that right balance between securing ourselves and making sure we remain a welcoming nation to the whole world.

Victor Davis Hanson looks at things from a strategic viewpoint:

The subsequent Battle of the Bulge was a result of a colossal American intelligence failure. Somehow 250,000 Nazis, right under the noses of the Americans, were able to mount a counteroffensive with absolute surprise. For all of our own failure to account for the missing WMD, so far an enemy army of 250,000 has not, as it once did in December 1945, assembled unnoticed a few miles from our theater base camps. Whom to blame?

We know about the horrific German massacres of American prisoners, but little about instances of Americans' shooting German captives well before the Battle of the Bulge. Such murdering was neither sanctioned by American generals nor routine — but nevertheless it was not uncommon in the heat of battle and the stress of war. No inquiry cited Generals Hodges, Patton, or Bradley as responsible for rogue soldiers shooting unarmed prisoners. Whom to blame?

The catastrophes did not end after the Normandy campaign. More Americans were killed between December 1944 and January 1945 — when we wrongly pushed back the bulge by confronting it head-on rather than slicing it off far to its rear — than all those lost previously in the months since the D-Day landings. Germans had heavy overcoats and white camouflage; GIs froze and were easy targets in the snow with their dark uniforms. Whom to blame?

I could go on, but the point is clear. War is a horrendous experience in which the side that wins commits the fewest mistakes, rather than no errors at all...

...For all their triangulation, deep down inside both he and John Kerry are not foolish. They don't want a post-9/11 world with Saddam's petro-tyranny intact, more wounded al Qaedists seeking refuge in Baghdad, an unimpressed Qaddafi back to his terrorist machinations, Dr. Kahn franchising his nuke-mart, or the Saudi royal family fueling fundamentalist killers even as 10,000 Americans are on its soil.

In other words, Kerry and Edwards sense that Iraq has had some strange — but as yet not fully understood — positive effects that are just beginning to ripple out. Are Middle Eastern autocracies and monarchies such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia talking more or less about democratic reform after Saddam's removal? Are rogue regimes such as Iran and Syria now more or less worried about scrutiny of their terrorist subsidies?

Captain's Quarters is a blog I haven't seen before--but the old salty dog has a really good banner. Check it out.

Steven Zeitchik comments on the new "documentaries" F/911 and Outfoxed:

Of course, the documentary form doesn't always function this way. At its best--e.g., Frederick Wiseman's films on high schools and hospitals, the weird constellations of "Crumb" and "Capturing the Friedmans," the Vietnam-centered "Hearts and Minds"--it is propelled by a sense of discovery. Neither filmmaker nor viewer knows what he is getting into until he really starts busying himself with it.

Movies like "Outfoxed," "Control Room" and "Fahrenheit 911" work differently. They begin by knowing their thesis--and their audience--and operate backward. In the process, artists keen to point up the propagandistic efforts of others show themselves all too willing to take part in such efforts themselves.

Yet to call these films propaganda is also to misunderstand them. They don't seek to convince the unconvinced or herd the untamed. They aim directly at the sheep. Little wonder that the main means of distributing "Outfoxed" is through house parties organized by, the group whose Bush-bashing is at least as bald-faced as anything on Fox. Call them flockumentaries, movies people attend en masse, to nestle together in easy confirmation of their most cherished beliefs--to learn, really, what they already know.

Lawrence Henry also has some thoughts on Outfoxed.

Clueless Whoopi. You've probably heard about Whoopi's antics at a recent Democratic fundraiser. You've also probably heard that now Slim-Fast has fired her as their spokesperson. Check out now what Ms. Goldberg has to say:

"America's heart and soul is freedom of expression without fear of reprisal," she added. "In a time when candidate bashing has become the norm, be it on television, in speeches or Sunday morning programs, I find all this feigned indignation about 'Bush bashing' quite disingenuous. "The fact that I am no longer the spokesman for Slim-Fast makes me sad, but not as sad as someone trying to punish me for exercising my right as an American to speak my mind in any forum I choose."

Whoopi, you just don't get it! You are free to speak your mind without fear of reprisal from the government. Pretty basic stuff there, Whoopsters. Not advanced poly-sci. Get it? Also, I'm sure that Slim-Fast didn't fire you in order to punish you. They hired you initially because they believed in doing so they would sell more product and increase their profits (duh). They gave you the axe because they believed your (tarnished) image no longer (or at least not currently) would benefit them. Corporations are like that. They exist solely to turn a profit. So Whoopi, you are completely free to express your opinions, but so too are we free to express our opinions by choosing not to buy your products or those you endorse. Hmm, imagine what would have happened if you said similar things against the leaders while in any of the axis of evil countries: Saddam's Iraq, North Korea, Iran. You would be significantly worse off than simply being sad. Sheeesh!

Thursday July 15, 2004

Check out the word of the day for today: Lambdacism. Reminds me of a humorous story from my Air Force days. I was in the base clothing store to pick up a name tape I had ordered for my camoflage uniform. I asked the gal (Korean, I believe) at the counter for the name tape. She began rifling through a box which had finished name tapes arranged alphabetically. After a while, she said, "I'm sorry Mr. 'Rivingston', your name isn't in here". It was then that I realized she was looking in the R's. When she looked in the L's she found it. Both of us got a chuckle out of that one. That's Lambdacism in action. ( No, I'm not going to have a little story with every mot du jour)

A little over a year ago, the media was hyperventilating about President Bush's 16 words in the SOTU Address regarding Iraq's attempts to by uranium from Africa. Then the media was completely achatter over the outing of Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as retribution against Wilson for openly disputing Bush's assertion. Now, however, documents and testimony reveal that Mr. Wilson was reccommended for the assignment by his wife. This doesn't exactly square with his prior statements. Also,it turns out that Bush was right. Bush was right? Have you seen that headline? Have you even heard much mention of this? This from Robert Novak who broke the Valerie Plame story:

The unanimous Intelligence Committee found that the CIA report, based on Wilson's mission, differed considerably from the former ambassador's description to the committee of his findings. That report "did not refute the possibility that Iraq had approached Niger to purchase uranium." As far as his statement to The Washington Post about "forged documents" involved in the alleged Iraqi attempt to buy uranium, Wilson told the committee he may have "misspoken." In fact, the intelligence community agreed that "Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from Africa."

"While there was no dispute with the underlying facts," Chairman Roberts wrote separately, "my Democrat colleagues refused to allow" two conclusions in the report. The first conclusion merely said that Wilson was sent to Niger at his wife's suggestion. The second conclusion is devastating:

"Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided."

The normally mild Pat Roberts is harsh in his condemnation: "Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had 'debunked' the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa . . . [N]ot only did he NOT 'debunk' the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true." Roberts called it "important" for the Intelligence Committee to declare much of what Wilson said "had no basis in fact." In response, Democrats were silent.

Also this:

"We know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," Cheney said — words that caused bloggers on the left and others to demand Cheney's resignation last year.

Well, Cheney's argument has now been validated by the findings of both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the British report. The Butler inquiry forthrightly defends the intelligence on Saddam's pursuit of uranium in Africa — just as Blair did last summer after the Bush White House's utterly incomprehensible decision to disavow the 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address on the matter.

To my way of thinking, this thrashes the complaints from many on the left that since we haven't found WMD (and our intelligence was flawed) that the whole premise of pre-emptive war was completely wrong. Knowing what we know now would we do the same thing? According to Ted Koppel (not exactly a Republican apologist) 39 of 42 Senators contacted say Yes:

Koppel’s findings, which aired on ABC Radio late Friday night, directly counters Rockefeller’s suggestion that the Senate would not have strongly endorsed the war against Iraq. Koppel reported: “We wanted to see whether the conclusions reached by the Intelligence Committee would have made any difference to the other senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq, so we called them. “Of the 42 we reached, only three said they would have changed their minds had they known then ‘what they know now.’

Haven't heard much of this, at least with nothing like the ferocity of the allegedly "bogus" 16 words. According to Roger Simon, it just doesn't fit with the storyline:

What's interesting about both these stories is how under-reported they are by the mainstream media. They don't fit their narrative. (And don't call that "liberal." It's not to me. It has nothing to do with the liberalism I grew up with. Find another word or... better yet... don't find a word at all. Deal with the facts--or the absence therof, as the case may be.) A couple of days ago the Washington Post had a story on page nine about Mr. Wilson's serial prevarications. I asked at the time how many stories supporting him had appeared on the front page of that another papers when his initial (now bogus) allegations occurred--and what their response will be now. Patterico has some of the answers, at least as far as the LAT is concerned. It would be interesting to compare them to the WaPo and the NYT. I notice some on here have claimed that some media are not biased. I wonder how, in the light of this nonsense, they can believe that.

Wednesday July 14, 2004

Claudia Rosett continues to investigate Kofigate:

Kofigate continues. Another stack of secret United Nations Oil for Food documents has now reached the press, this batch procured by congressional sources and providing--at long last--a better view of Saddam Hussein's entire U.N.-approved shopping list. This huge roster of Oil for Food relief contracts fills in a few more of the vital details about Saddam's "humanitarian" partnership with the U.N., spelling out the names of all his U.N.-approved relief suppliers and the price of every deal.

Wow, yesterday it was the LA Times, today it's the Boston Herald editorializing about Democratic campaign amnesia:

...And Sen. John Edwards, if anything, was even more certain of Iraq's threat. . . before he came down with a bad case of ``campaign amnesia.'' (That from a campaign speech by a combative Dick Cheney who has been kept under wraps for far too long.) ``I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country,'' Edwards said. Hmmm, ``imminent,'' did someone say imminent?

Tuesday July 13, 2004

The DPRK is continuing to play hardball:

U.S Presidential Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said during her visit to Seoul that the U.S. would offer "surprising compensation" to North Korea if the North scraps its nuclear weapons program. Han Seong-ryol, the North Korean deputy ambassador to the U.N., turned down the U.S. proposal Monday, saying, "North Korea is not interested in it"

In being asked about the North's responses to the U.S. suggestion, Deputy Ambassador Han said in a phone interview, "The U.S. nuclear program abandonment first, compensation later proposal is nothing new... Considering the situation in which mutual distrust has built up for 50 years, there cannot be unilateral disarmament." Han repeated North Korea's existing stance that the North abandon its nuclear weapons and the U.S. simultaneously gives security guarantees and economic aid to Pyongyang. In regards to the U.S. message urging the North to believe it, Deputy Ambassador Han said, "When a superpower like the U.S. doesn't believe us, it is difficult for us to believe Washington first... A big country should first believe a small country."

And no one should believe a known and proven liar. The North Koreans have already violated many agreements in the past including the "Agreed Framework" worked out by Jimmy Carter during the Clinton Administration which directly led to their acquiring nuclear materials and probably nuclear weapons. At least the Bush administration has the perspicacity to deal realistically with these thugs. What of the Kerry camp? What would they do? Here's Newt on the Today Show from today asking this question of Richard Holbrooke, the Kerry campaign spokesman:

The subject was North Korea and its nuclear program. Holbrooke waxed on about the Bush administration wasn't doing enough "to put pressure on N. Korea."

Finally Newt had his say. "So, what would the Kerry administration do differently? Would you attack N. Korea?" Newt repeated the question a number of times. Holbrooke refusing to answer. Finally, cornered, this was the sum and substance of what Holbrooke came up with: "well, we should continue the six party talks now underway, but the US should also speak directly with N. Korea." Newt pounced. "That's it? We should speak directly with N. Korea? That's going to 'put pressure' on them?"

It was a seminal moment. Pull back the curtain on the Kerry foreign policy and what do you find? Nothing. Some vague notions that we should be nicer to Jacques Chirac, and talk directly with Kim Jung Il. Thanks very much, and don't forget the lovely parting gifts.

Mohammad, from Iraq the Model, tries to convince some pessimists in his own family that things are improving in Iraq by describing the improvements in just one square kilometer:

Ok, let’s start with the first thing you see when you get out of your house . The first building you will see is that of the law institute for higher studies which was destroyed after the 9th of April. Was it destroyed by an American bomb? No, it was destroyed by criminals who carried out Saddam’s plan in “burning Iraq before handing it to the Americans” joined by some selfish people and other ignorant and simple Iraqis who didn’t understand that soon after the 9th of April all the state belongings that were Saddam’s have become all-Iraqis’ belongings. Alright, this institute was rebuilt few months later and now it functions in a way better than before and help to create a new law system that is honest and independent and to me this is another and more important addition.

Ok, now let’s move for few tens of meters and you can find the publishing house that used to publish Uday’s hateful newspaper (Babil) this one also was not destroyed by American missiles and we all remember how the thieves left it as mere walls with the vents missing their robbed air conditioners. Ok, what happened later; it’s working now with full power after it was reconstructed and now it’s printing Al-Sabah news paper that you buy every morning. To me this one was also rebuilt twice; once as building and equipments and once as a trust worthy press instead of the pathetic old propaganda machine. Now I’m going to move for only another ten meters to find the (open educational college) where teachers improve their teaching methods, this one, uncle was also not destroyed by American bombs but by the same way as the former two buildings and now we can see that it was soon reconstructed and a few days ago they celebrated the graduation of a new bunch of their students.

Ok, let’s take a look at the adjacent building which is for the transport department in the ministry of trade. We watched that building being robbed in the same way. Do I have to remind you sir that this building was rebuilt and it’s back to work? I don’t think I have to; you see it every morning.

I’ll move for another 50 meters and cross the street where lies one of the former evil military institutes that was used to train professional butchers; it wasn’t a target for American missiles but was robbed by some sick people who left it as ruins, and you know uncle how the American unit in charge of this area turned it into a residency for students who come from other governorates to study in Baghdad. Now they have air conditioning, hot and cold water and decent bedrooms...

...If you had the chance to make some calculations for what was spent till now I’m sure that you’re going to find out that oil revenues were not enough and I’m sure that someone had given us a hand!. I wonder who would that be? Russia? France? Germany? Or probably Syria? No, no wait, it must be Iran, right?

Then I told myself: if some Iraqis, living in Iraq, watching the changes being done under their noses fail to see the truth and still depend on the media to tell them what’s going on in their own country then how can we blame people who live thousands of miles away for thinking similarly!?

I'm no fan of Michael Moore and have not seen any of his recent movies (saw Roger and Me years ago). I don't want to give him any more hype than he already has (Puh-leese, your entire readership wouldn't fill a single theatre row --ed. O.K., I'm duly chastised. Picture Fred Flintstone shrinking as he is chewed out by Mr. Slate.) Anyway, if you want to read more (both pro and con) read here, here, here and here.

I was pleasantly surprised to read this in an LA Times editorial:

After all, the issue raised by the Senate Intelligence Committee report is not whether the Bush administration bungled the prosecution of the war, or whether there should have been greater international cooperation, or whether the challenges of occupying and rebuilding the country were grossly underestimated. When Kerry says "they were wrong," he is referring to the administration's basic case for going to war. Kerry supported that decision. So did Edwards. Were they wrong? If they won't answer that question, they have no moral standing to criticize Bush.

Meanwhile, Sharkblog has started the Kerry Lied!!! theme.

Faye Fereshteh Farhang asserts that the Palestinians need a wake-up call:

Why do intellectual Palestinians not curb this Islamic fundamentalism that is tearing through their children, leaving them destitute, victims of their own actions. The idea of their living conditions is in the least haunting -- how many more years are they willing to sacrifice their children? How many more years are they willing to live like cattle, people deprived of their humanity in refugee camps.

It seems that the Palestinians have confused their priorities for a long time -- they seem to be sacrificing posterity and any possible development of their people for a smaller portion of land that may not be worth the great loss of posterity. After all what happened to the notion of conquering land, developing and rebuilding, that could effectively be done in the territories if there is peace. The latter I should add is an Islamic theory, the idea of development and progress was one endorsed by Mohammad for years.

This seems not likely to be forthcoming, as this Sky News reporter has discovered:

Children as young as 10 are being recruited to fight for the Palestinian cause. Sky News has gained access to a young people's camp in Gaza, where the only lesson taught is how to kill Israelis. Sky's Middle East Correspondent Emma Hurd said the camp, at an undisclosed location, had been set up to drill children in the ways of war.

Hurd witnessed one training session in which a militant, dressed as a Jewish settler complete with yarmulke skull cap, was ambushed in his car.Gunmen pulled the "settler" from his vehicle and Hurd was told if this had been real he would have been killed. She spoke to two 10-year-old recruits. One of them, Mustafa, said he wanted to shoot down Israeli aircraft and blow up tanks.

Monday July 12, 2004

It's summer and the livin' is easy. What can I say, I've been a slacker. Some people have been at work though, and William Safire has noticed:

At least eight official investigations have begun into the largest financial rip-off in history: preliminary estimates from the G.A.O. point to $10 billion skimmed or kicked back or otherwise stolen in the U.N. dealings with Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, Thomas Sowell is noting the track record of the U.N. and our European "allies", whom the left is always so willing to please, and wonders why we should even consider their opinions:

The UN stood idly by in Rwanda while mass slaughters went on. The UN passed resolution after resolution on Iraq for years, without taking any action to enforce them. Indeed, the UN was part of the massive corruption in the oil-for-food program, which enabled Saddam Hussein to divert money intended to feed the Iraqi people into buying weapons and palaces for himself. When the UN seated Libya on its human rights committee, that was a sign of its moral bankruptcy. So was its conference on racism, which featured anti-Semitic propaganda by Arab countries.

Europe's track record throughout the 20th century was one unbelievable disaster after another. European countries blundered their way into two world wars -- from which every country involved emerged worse off than before, with a continent devastated and its people hungry amid the rubble. Both times American food fed them. The two biggest ideological disasters of the 20th century -- Communism and Fascism -- were both created in Europe. Both of these blind fanaticisms led to innocent civilians being killed by the millions, during peacetime as well as in wars. For more than half a century, Western Europe has not had to defend itself because it has been protected by the American nuclear umbrella. Without that, there was nothing to stop the Soviet army from marching right across the continent to the Atlantic Ocean.

Jeff Jacoby has been following the latest collapse of the Bush Lied meme. Sadly, he's one of the few:

Late last month, the Financial Times reported that, according to European intelligence agencies, Iraq was one of five countries negotiating with smugglers in Niger for the illegal purchase of uranium yellowcake. "These claims support the assertion made in the British government dossier . . . that Iraq sought to buy uranium from an African country," the Financial Times reported in a front-page story on June 27. For some reason, though, the US media showed virtually no interest in that revelation. (One exception: columnist William Safire in The New York Times.)

A few days ago, the Financial Times was back with more news: An independent British commission investigating the government's use of intelligence during the runup to the war in Iraq, the paper reported on Wednesday, "is expected to conclude that Britain's spies were correct to say that Saddam Hussein's regime sought to buy uranium from Niger."

But this, too, has been largely ignored by the American press. Curious, no? Journalists couldn't get enough of this topic when the story line was that Bush and the British had lied. Shouldn't they find it just as riveting when facts point in the other direction?

Dan Darling at Winds of Change has been reading the Senate Intelligence Committee Report and has found a few tidbits that have not been trumpeted by the major media:

Everything Powell said at the UN regarding Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda (which is pretty much the same as what President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and others said going into the war) appears to have reflected the consensus of the broader intelligence community.

Joe Wilson's claims (along with, I suspect, his reputation within Democratic circles) have more or less gone down in flames, as have claims that intelligence analysts were pressured into making certain conclusions...

...Also, this demolishes 2 of Richard Clarke's key claims with respect to Iraq: that there was no Iraqi involvement in terrorism post-1993, and that there is no evidence whatsoever of Iraqi support for al-Qaeda. Both of these claims, to put it quite simply, can now be shown to be factually untrue.

Michael "faster please" Ledeen also makes a few salient points and outlines the "thorough discrediting" of Joseph Wilson. He also addresses the Big Question:

Finally, we come to the really big question, and the weird answer of the committee. The big question is this: How could every serious intelligence agency on earth have come to believe there were WMDs in Iraq when (as the current article of faith has it) there were none? Senator Roberts likens it to a global epidemic. The CIA got it wrong and then infected all the others. A worldwide virus, so to speak. The WMD flu, if you will.

I don't buy it. I don't think the French were swayed by the CIA. I don't think the Israelis and the Russians were infected by our views. I think this is like the David Kay theory of WMDs. Remember? He said that Saddam really believed he had some, because all his guys lied to him about it. He didn't actually have WMDs at all, because the Iraqis had failed, and they feared for their lives if Saddam found them out, and so they lied, and he bought the lies.

These are pretty complicated theories, you must admit. What about a simpler approach? Let's say that there were WMDs. Then, in the disgracefully long period between Afghanistan and Iraq, Saddam, knowing he was gonna be overrun, exported some (mostly to Syria and Iran), destroyed some, and hid some.

That's my story, and I'm sticking with it for the time being. I'm sticking with it because I know — as Senator Roberts and the committee staff know, because I told them — that there are very credible reports of WMD sites, but the CIA chooses not to go look at them. Since I told my own story I've learned about others, one of which comes from a very high-ranking former official of the American government. I'm also sticking with it because the Polish government insists that their guys in Iraq found warheads with chemical weapons, even though a CENTCOM press release denies it, and because Zarkawi's killers arrived in Jordan with large quantities of chemical weapons. And because I don't believe the Iraqis would have bought all those funny suits that protect you from chemical and biological weapons unless they had such weapons and expected to use them.

Michael Barone points to the "success" of appeasement in Columbia, Northern Ireland and Israel.