JOE WAS RIGHT….For all the frothing and fulminating about the minutiae of Joe Wilson’s op-eds, speeches, and books over the past year, it’s worth remembering that his central claim continues to be supported by everyone who looks into it. At the tail end of a USA Today column on the subject, John Diamond remembers to mention this:

Did Iraq, in fact, try to buy uranium in Niger? The Senate Intelligence Committee report accepted the CIA’s ultimate assessment ? not reached until after the war ? that there was little if any credible evidence available to U.S. intelligence to support the charge that Iraq sought, let alone bought, uranium from Niger.

Has the White House changed its position on Bush’s January 2003 charge? The White House has not withdrawn or amended its statement last July that the intelligence behind the charge “did not rise to the level of inclusion in a presidential speech.”

Wilson’s central claim was that there was virtually no evidence to back up the idea that Saddam had sought uranium from Niger. The CIA agreed with that assessment before the war, it agreed with it after the war, and it still agrees with it ? and the Senate Intelligence report backs them up.

Bottom line: on his primary point, the one he’s been flogging for over a year now, Wilson has been vindicated.

Of course, the British continue to stand behind their contention that Saddam tried to buy uranium from Africa, but they refuse to explain why they think this. And since British intelligence on Iraq hasn’t been notably more accurate than American intelligence, it’s hard to think of any good reason to believe them unless they provide us all with a little more evidence.

Wilson may be guilty of overembellishing his case on several minor points, but on the central question he brought up ? should the president have made those claims about African uranium in his State of the Union address? ? he was right. The CIA admits it, the White House admits it, and the Senate Intelligence committee admits it. Republicans ought to keep this in mind.