Wednesday, July 13, 2005
OpinionJournal adequately sums up the backassward view that the mainstream press has been serving up regarding Joe Wilson, his wife and his attack on the Bush campaign disguised as a CIA report.
Mr. Wilson, who first "outed" himself as a CIA consultant in a melodramatic New York Times op-ed in July 2003. At the time he claimed to have thoroughly debunked the Iraq-Niger yellowcake uranium connection that President Bush had mentioned in his now famous "16 words" on the subject in that year's State of the Union address.
Mr. Wilson also vehemently denied it when columnist Robert Novak first reported that his wife had played a role in selecting him for the Niger mission. He promptly signed up as adviser to the Kerry campaign and was feted almost everywhere in the media, including repeat appearances on NBC's "Meet the Press" and a photo spread (with Valerie) in Vanity Fair.
But his day in the political sun was short-lived. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report last July cited the note that Ms. Plame had sent recommending her husband for the Niger mission. "Interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD [Counterproliferation Division] employee, suggested his name for the trip," said the report.
The same bipartisan report also pointed out that the forged documents Mr. Wilson claimed to have discredited hadn't even entered intelligence channels until eight months after his trip. And it said the CIA interpreted the information he provided in his debrief as mildly supportive of the suspicion that Iraq had been seeking uranium in Niger.
About the same time, another inquiry headed by Britain's Lord Butler delivered its own verdict on the 16 words: "We conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that 'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa' was well-founded."
In short, Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission. The media and the Kerry campaign promptly abandoned him, though the former never did give as much prominence to his debunking as they did to his original accusations. But if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know.