JOSEPH WILSON….Sue Schmidt of the Washington Post reports today that ? not to put too fine a point on it ? Joseph Wilson is full of shit. We’ve known for a long time that British intelligence stands by its assertion that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa, and we’ve also known for a long time that the CIA didn’t agree. That’s all old news. But then there’s this:
Wilson’s assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.
The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And 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 that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.
Huh? Is she saying that Tenet never warned anybody to back off the Africa claims in speeches in 2002? There was an awful lot of reliable reporting that he did exactly that.
The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.
….The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame “offered up” Wilson’s name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations saying her husband “has good relations with both 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.” The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.
Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger [and] stood by his assertion in an interview yesterday, saying Plame was not the person who made the decision to send him. Of her memo, he said: “I don’t see it as a recommendation to send me.”
….The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because “the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.”
None of this really seems to have any impact on the legal question of whether someone in the administration leaked Plame’s name to the press, but it sure has an impact on Wilson’s credibility. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall has more about whether the CIA had qualms about the Africa intelligence that ended up in the State of the Union address. Short answer: yes they did.
On the Plame thing, he agrees that it’s probably irrelevant legally. However, he doesn’t mention whether he thinks it hurts Wilson’s overall credibility. Seems like it does to me.