[Marxism] Dana Milbank
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 18 14:03:27 MST 2005
>What was their Wilson smear?
I imagine it is a reference to this:
The Washington Post
October 25, 2005 Tuesday
HEADLINE: Husband Is Conspicuous in Leak Case;
Wilson's Credibility Debated as Charges In Probe Considered
BYLINE: Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writers
To his backers, Joseph C. Wilson IV is a brave whistle-blower wronged by
the Bush administration. To his critics, he is a partisan who spouts
But nobody disputes this: Possessed of a flamboyant style and a love for
the camera lens, Wilson helped propel the unmasking of his wife's identity
as a CIA operative into a sprawling, two-year legal probe that climaxes
this week with the possible indictment of key White House officials. He
also turned an arcane matter involving the Intelligence Identities
Protection Act into a proxy fight over the administration's credibility and
its case for war in Iraq.
Also beyond dispute is the fact that the little-known diplomat took maximum
advantage of his 15 minutes of fame. Wilson has been a fixture on the
network and cable news circuit for two years -- from "Meet the Press" to
"Imus in the Morning" to "The Daily Show." He traveled west and lunched
with the likes of Norman Lear and Warren Beatty.
He published a book, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to
War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity." He persuaded his wife, Valerie
Plame, to appear with him in a January 2004 Vanity Fair photo spread, in
which the two appeared in his Jaguar convertible.
Now, amid speculation that prosecutors could bring charges against White
House officials this week, Republicans preparing a defense of the
administration are reviving the debate about Wilson's credibility and
Wilson's central assertion -- disputing President Bush's 2003 State of the
Union claim that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger -- has been
validated by postwar weapons inspections. And his charge that the
administration exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq has proved potent.
At the same time, Wilson's publicity efforts -- and his work for Sen. John
F. Kerry's presidential campaign -- have complicated his efforts to portray
himself as a whistle-blower and a husband angry about the treatment of his
wife. The Vanity Fair photos, in particular, hurt Plame's reputation inside
the CIA; both Wilson and Plame have said they now regret doing the photo shoot.
Wilson's critics in the administration said his 2002 trip to Niger for the
CIA to probe reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there was a
boondoggle arranged by his wife to help his consulting business.
The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page, defending the
administration, wrote yesterday that, "Mr. Wilson became an antiwar
celebrity who joined the Kerry for president campaign." Discussing his trip
to Niger, the Journal judged: "Mr. Wilson's original claims about what he
found on a CIA trip to Africa, what he told the CIA about it, and even why
he was sent on the mission have since been discredited."
Wilson's defenders say he is a truth-teller who has been unfairly attacked.
"[T]he White House responded to Ambassador Wilson in the worst possible
way," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said at a Democratic gathering
in July. "They did not present substantive evidence to justify the uranium
claim. . . . Instead, it appears that the president's advisers launched a
smear campaign, and Ambassador Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, became
Before the Niger episode, Wilson was best known as the chargé d'affaires in
Baghdad, a diplomat commended by George H.W. Bush for protecting and
securing the release of American "human shields" at the time of the Persian
Gulf War. He was not known as a partisan figure -- he donated money to both
Al Gore and George W. Bush in 1999 -- and says he was neither antiwar nor
anti-Bush when he went to Niger in late February 2002.
But that changed when he went public with his criticism of the Niger affair
in mid-2003. In August, he said at a forum that he would like to see Karl
Rove "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." In the fall, he
endorsed Democrat Kerry. He had given money to Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton's (D-N.Y.) political action committee in 2002 and gave to Kerry's
presidential campaign in 2003.
Later, Wilson became prominent in the antiwar movement. In June 2005, he
participated in a mock congressional hearing held by Democrats criticizing
the war in Iraq. "We are having this discussion today because we failed to
have it three years ago when we went to war," he said at the time. The next
month, he joined Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a news conference on
the two-year anniversary of the unmasking of Plame.
Wilson has also armed his critics by misstating some aspects of the Niger
affair. For example, Wilson told The Washington Post anonymously in June
2003 that he had concluded that the intelligence about the Niger uranium
was based on forged documents because "the dates were wrong and the names
were wrong." The Senate intelligence committee, which examined pre-Iraq war
intelligence, reported that Wilson "had never seen the CIA reports and had
no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports." Wilson had to
admit he had misspoken.
That inaccuracy was not central to Wilson's claims about Niger, but his
critics have used it to cast doubt on his veracity about more important
questions, such as whether his wife recommended him for the 2002 trip, as
administration officials charged in the conversations with reporters that
special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is now probing. Wilson has maintained
that Plame was merely "a conduit," telling CNN last year that "her
supervisors asked her to contact me."
But the Senate committee found that "interviews and documents provided to
the committee indicate that his wife . . . suggested his name for the
trip." The committee also noted a memorandum from Plame saying Wilson "has
good relations" with Niger officials who "could possibly shed light on this
sort of activity." In addition, notes on a State Department document
surmised that Plame "had the idea to dispatch him" to Niger.
The CIA has always said, however, that Plame's superiors chose Wilson for
the Niger trip and she only relayed their decision.
Wilson also mistakenly assumed that his report would get more widespread
notice in the administration than it apparently did. He wrote that he
believed "a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice
president" had probably taken place, perhaps orally.
But this apparently never occurred. Former CIA director George J. Tenet has
said that "we did not brief it to the president, vice president or other
senior administration officials." Instead his report, without identifying
Wilson as the source, was sent in a routine intelligence paper that had
wide circulation in the White House and the rest of the intelligence
community but had little impact because it supported other, earlier
refutations of the Niger intelligence.
Wilson also had charged that his report on Niger clearly debunked the claim
about Iraqi uranium purchases. He told NBC in 2004: "This government knew
that there was nothing to these allegations." But the Senate committee said
his findings were ambiguous. Tenet said Wilson's report "did not resolve"
On another item of dispute -- whether Vice President Cheney's office
inspired the Wilson trip to Niger -- Wilson had said the CIA told him he
was being sent to Niger so they could "provide a response to the vice
president's office," which wanted more information on the report that Iraq
was seeking uranium there. Tenet said the CIA's counterproliferation
experts sent Wilson "on their own initiative."
Wilson said in a recent interview: "I never said the vice president sent me
or ordered me sent."
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