Skip to comments.Joe Wilson's Lies, A Timeline - Who Forged the Documents? (Vanity)
Posted on 10/25/2005 11:39:50 AM PDT by Wuli
Look at this timetable(*):
Prior to 2001 - From various sources, the CIA has intelligence that Iraq made attempts to purchase weapons grade uranium in Africa (not just Niger).
October 15, 2001 - The CIA receives a report from a foreign government service that the Iraqi regime had struck a deal with the government of Niger to purchase several tons of partially processed uranium, known as "yellowcake." (This was not the later "source" often referred to as "forged documents".)
On October 18, 2001 - The CIA publishes a Senior Executive Intelligence Bulletin that discusses the finding. "According to a foreign government service, Niger as of early this year planned to send several tons of uranium to Iraq under an agreement concluded late last year."
February 5, 2002 - A second report, also from a "foreign government service" contains more details of the alleged transactions. An official from the CIA's directorate of operations says that the new information comes from "a very credible source," and some of the reporting seems to corroborate earlier accounts of meetings between Nigerien officials and Iraqis.
February 12, 2002 - Analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency write a report using the new information entitled "Niamey signed an agreement to sell 500 tons of uranium a year to Baghdad." It is included in the daily intelligence briefing prepared for Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney asks his CIA briefer for more information, including the CIA's analysis of the report. The CIA files a perfunctory response to the vice president's request, noting some concerns about the report and promising to follow up. It is unclear whether Cheney saw this response.
February 12, 2002 - Officials at the agency's Counterproliferation Division discuss how they might investigate the Niger claims further. An employee of the division, Valerie Wilson, suggests the agency send her husband, Joseph Wilson (a former U.S. ambassador to Gabon with experience in Niger), to Africa to make inquiries. In a memo to the deputy director of the Counterproliferation Division, she writes: "My husband has good relations with the PM [prime minister]of Niger] 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." Nothing documents any search for any other candidate for the trip.
February 18, 2002 - U.S. embassy in Niger sends a cable describing a "new" account of the alleged deal. It says, the account "provides sufficient detail to warrant another hard look at Niger's uranium sales." The cable warns against dismissing the allegations prematurely.
February 19, 2002 - Back at the CIA, representatives of several U.S. intelligence agencies meet with Ambassador Wilson to discuss a trip to Niger. Contemporaneous notes from an analyst at the State Department's INR suggest that Mrs. Wilson "apparently convened" the meeting. Several of the attendees question the value of the proposed trip, noting that the Nigeriens were unlikely to admit dealing with the Iraqis. Still, the CIA Counterintelligence Division (Plame's bosses) approves the trip.
At that point, add to that last fact the fact that Wilson had no experience as an intelligence operative or as an intelligence agent, someone at Langley should have been raising a big red flag about the trip. Is it significant that at this point, from the record, George Tenant had not been informed of the trip and would not be informed about it until afterwards?
Late February 2002 - Wilson takes his trip, here is how he would describe it:
"In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey, where I had been a diplomat in the mid-70s and visited as a National Security Council official in the late 90s. The city was much as I remembered it. Seasonal winds had clogged the air with dust and sand. Through the haze, I could see camel caravans crossing the Niger River (over the John F. Kennedy bridge), the setting sun behind them. Most people had wrapped scarves around their faces to protect against the grit, leaving only their eyes visible."
"I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."
Wilson also met with U.S. Ambassador to Niger Barbara Owens-Kirkpatrick, who, like the State Department's intelligence bureau, thought the alleged sale unlikely. Yet how does that assertion from her reflect the February 18 cable from her embassy (see above) describing a "new" account of the alleged deal; an account that provided "sufficient detail to warrant another hard look at Niger's uranium sales" and warned against dismissing the allegations prematurely? It doesn't. Also, note here that no "source" up to this point is based on any purported "forged" documents, delivered to or in possession of the US intelligence community.
March 5 2002 - Wilson is debriefed at his home by two CIA officials. He has not written a report and he makes no written report, contrary to many assertions he makes in writing and in speeches later on.
March 8 2002 - A CIA report covering the debriefing of Wilson is published and disseminated in the regular intelligence stream. The report includes the unsurprising declaration of former Nigerien prime minister Ibrahim Mayaki that Niger had signed no contracts with rogue states while he served first as foreign minister and then prime minister, from 1996 to 1999.(Why would he say otherwise, whether or not it was true - the type of contracts in question were under international sanctions against them.) But Mayaki gave a tantalizing detail, also included in the CIA report that resulted from Wilson's trip. An Iraqi delegation had visited Niger in 1999 to explore "expanding commercial relations" between Iraq and Niger. Mayaki had met with the Iraqis and later concluded that their request for enhanced trade meant they wanted to discuss purchasing uranium. Mayaki said he had not pursued the matter because such deals were prohibited under U.N. sanctions. (Yea, right.)
What was given as the CIA consensus view, in most every CIA presentation, following Wilson's trip was that his trip added little knowledge to the matter and if anything made the Iraqi-Niger deals seem plausible. That is 180 degrees from Wilson's public presentation of the results of his trip.
(1)During August and September the White house vets the text of various administration speeches with the CIA, because of language in them that cites Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium in Africa. The CIA clears the text without deleting the language. (2)A September 2002 DIA paper, is titled Iraq's Reemerging Nuclear Program. It declares: "Iraq has been vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake."Note here it does not say "from Niger".
September 24 2002 - A white paper produced by the British government says: "There is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The CIA has reservations about the British dossier, but not because of its substance. The British paper did not link the intelligence specifcally to Niger and there was intelligence on such matters concering the Congo and other African nations, but for some reason CIA officials were concerned that the reference could compromise their sources on Niger.Note here again, at this time, those sources are not the latter source said to be "forged documents".
September 24 2002 - Staffers at the National Security Council (NSC) ask the CIA to clear language on Iraq and Niger."We also have intelligence that Iraq has sought large amounts of uranium and uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, from Africa. Yellowcake is an essential ingredient in the process to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."The CIA once again approves the language, yet Bush chooses not to use it.
October 2 2002 - Senate Select Intelligence Committee met and questioned senior U.S. intelligence officials in closed session about the threat from Iraq.
Here for the first time, a senior CIA official (Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin) raises doubts about the reporting on Iraq and Niger. Responding to a question from Senator Jon Kyl, who asks if there was anything in the British white paper the CIA disputed, McLaughlin says: "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. We've looked at those reports and we don't think they are very credible. It doesn't diminish our conviction that he's going for nuclear weapons, but I think they reached a little bit on that one point."
It was in truth an amazing claim, or at minimum represented an amazing disconnect between the CIA staff and Deputy Director McLaughlin, given all the prior CIA vetting of language up to that point that was in agreement with the Birtish claim. It provides a glimpse of internal inconsistency at the CIA on the issue of Iraq and Niger. One day prior, October 1, 2002, the CIA had published the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD, titled Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. This classified document--the U.S. government's official position on Iraqi WMD programs--lifted almost verbatim the aggressive language used in the aforementioned DIA study, Iraq's Reemerging Nuclear Program, published just two weeks earlier:"Iraq [has been] vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons."Who in the CIA was McLaughlin talking to at the time and who was he not talking to? Who was in charge of vetting language regarding Niger? How were they out of the loop with McLauglin or how was he out of the loop with them?
October 2-6 2002 - White House speechwriters, finalizing text of a speech for the president to deliver on October 7, 2002, continue their back and forth with the CIA for clearance of sensitive language. On draft six of the speech, the CIA objects to this sentence: "The [Iraqi] regime has been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa--an essential ingredient in the enrichment process."
October 2-6 2002 - The next iteration of the same speech, sent to the CIA for vetting leaves in the Africa-uranium claim. The CIA Director George Tenet calls Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, telling Hadley that "the reporting was weak," and that the line shouldn't be used. Hadley removes the disputed language, and the CIA later faxed over its reasoning for insisting on the change.
Note here also that "Africa" not "Niger" is mentioned. So has something changed? The National Intelligence Estimate published just three days earlier included language just as aggressive. Was it a matter of classification? The NIE was classified, while the language in the speech was meant for public consumption. Still, twice in September the CIA had cleared similar language for public speeches. After having led the administration down this path, is the CIA backing away? Note again, for the third time, the "source" of the "forged documents" is still not among the various sources for any of the Africa-urianium intelligence assessments - none! Also note that the CIA has not brought forward any new "intelligence" at this point as a bais for the change!! (See Otober 9, below)
October 7 2002 - Inspite of the CIA Director's personal intervention, in regard to the President's October 7th speech, the officials responsible for coordinating the translation of intelligence into public rhetoric--Alan Foley, a top CIA nonproliferation expert, and Robert Joseph, a special assistant to the president for nonproliferation and a senior director at the NSC--are kept in the dark. Foley and Joseph proceed unaware that any substantive objections have been raised to the Niger intelligence. At least that is what their actions imply, as for months after October 7, the aggressive language regarding Africa, Iraq and uranium continues to be O.K'd between them.
October 9 2002 - Three days after George Tenent's warning and fully eight months after Joe Wilson's trip to Niger, , an Italian journalist walks into the U.S. embassy in Rome and delivers a set of documents purportedly showing that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger. Was the timing a mere coincidence? The embassy provides the documents to the State Department and the CIA. At State, an INR analyst thinks the documents might be forgeries. Several different CIA divisions receive copies of the documents, but the agency provides no immediate evaluation of them and does not identify them as likely fabrications.
Question? I can find no documented testimony that classified copies of these documents, which do not come into the US possession until eight months after Joe Wilson's trip to Niger, were ever provided to Joe Wilson by the CIA or anyone else. There is no record that he was in any role, after his trip to Niger, where they should have or would have been given to him. Yet, later, as he launches his campaign against Bush, he seems to know an awful lot about what makes them "forgeries".
Fall of 2002, sometime after October 9 - A French diplomat tells the State Department the French received additional, credible reporting on the Iraqi-Niger transactions and they believe the earlier reports were true. Note: no documented reason for this "report" is made and the French do not say they are basing this report on the documents delivered to the US embassy in Italy on October 9, nor do they say they have or have seen those documents.
Fall of 2002, sometime after October 9 - A report from the U.S. Navy suggests that uranium being transferred from Niger to Iraq was discovered in a warehouse in Cotonou, Benin. The report indicates that the broker for the deal is willing to talk about it, but, mysteriously he is never contacted by the CIA or military intelligence.
December 7 2002 - Iraq submits to the United Nations its 11,000-page document on its weapons programs, as required by U.N. Resolution 1441. The CIA response to the Iraqi declaration, among the scores of objections, includes the claim that Iraq has failed to account for its attempts to acquire uranium from Africa. It seems like Tenet's CIA wants to have two positions on this issue.
December 7 2002 - January 28, 2003 - The Africa-Iraq-uranium claims continued to be approved by the CIA for various speeches by administration officials.
January 28, 2003 - President's State of the Union Speech (vetted by the CIA) includes: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Again note the President is saying Africa and not simply Niger.
February 2003 - The U.S. government gives the IAEA the contents of its original reporting on the Iraq-Africa-uranium issue, including the documents delivered by the Italian journalist to the U.S. embassy in Rome on October 9, 2002. Again I need to stress here that those documents were neither the original intelligence sources which precipitated the trip by Wilson to Niger, neither were they the sole intelligence sources regarding Africa-Iraq-uranium deals and niether was Niger the sole suspected venue for such deals.
February 15, 2003 - NSC Staffer Stephan Hadley reiterates: "Iraq has an active procurement program. According to British intelligence, the regime has tried to acquire natural uranium from abroad", in an oped in the Chicago Tribune.
March 3, 2003 - The IAEA tells the U.S. that it believes the October 9, 2002 documents on an Iraq-Niger deal for uranium were forgeries.
March 4, 2003 - The French announce that the assessment it previously made to the United States--that an Iraq-Niger deal had taken place--was based on the same forged documents. (How timely?) (Some current and former Bush administration officials remain convinced that the French role in the matter was no accident. They speculate that French intelligence, seeking to embarrass the U.S. government, may have been the original source of the bad documents. An FBI investigation into the matter continues.)(I think the US should not cancel out the idea of domestic US sources.)
May 6, 2003 - Columnist Nicholas Kristof examines prewar U.S. claims of WMD in Iraq in a New York Times article. His article includes this curious passage:
I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.
The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted--except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.
Here is where Joe Wilson's tale gets very puzzling, from an intelligence point of view and it is here also that Wilson begins to conflate documents that are reportedly not known to the US until eight months after his trip with matters he claims, through his trip, to have "debunked". This tale by Kristof comes just about 90 days after the IAEA claims the October 9, 2002 documents were forgeries, but there is no record of who, if anyone, shared those documents with Wilson. Yet, he claims to have specific knowledge of what makes them "forgeries". How did he know that and/or who shared them with Wilson and why?
As to Wilson's claim that his "debunking" of the documents (that did not come to light until eight months after his Niger trip) was passed around the administration, it is simply an outright lie because the documents were never part of the intelligence stream prior to his trip and not part of any intelligence product of his trip. At least neither the CIA Director nor the White House had knowledge of those documents being an intelligence "product" of Wilson's trip. But who knows what Wilson really knew, outside of what he told the CIA that he knew? Is there cause for an investigation here?
June 12, 2003 - Walter Pincus of the Washington Post publishes a story saying, " according to a former White House official:
" During his trip, the CIA's envoy [Wilson] spoke with the president of Niger and other Niger officials mentioned as being involved in the Iraqi effort, some of whose signatures purportedly appeared on the documents."
" After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong," the former U.S. government official said.
Again, at the time that Wilson "spoke with the president of Niger...." those "documents" were not, reportedly, known to Wilson or even in US possession and would not be so for another eight months. Is Wilson simply lying again, to Pincus? Or was he telling Pincus the truth; did he know about the documents when he was in Niger; the documents that would not show up until eight months later in Rome?
June 14, 2003 - Wilson speaks at a forum sponsored by the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC). Wilson does not tell his audience that he was the source for stories about "the ambassador's" trip to Africa, but his comments, like the following, reveal intimate knowledge of the mission.
" I just want to assure you that that American ambassador who has been cited in reports in the New York Times and in the Washington Post, and now in the Guardian over in London, who actually went over to Niger on behalf of the government--not of the CIA but of the government--and came back in February of 2002 and told the government that there was nothing to this story, later called the government after the British white paper was published and said you all need to do some fact-checking and make sure the Brits aren't using bad information in the publication of the white paper, and who called both the CIA and the State Department after the president's State of the Union and said to them you need to worry about the political manipulation of intelligence if, in fact, the president is talking about Niger when he mentions Africa."
" That person was told by the State Department that, well, you know, there's four countries that export uranium. That person had served in three of those countries, so he knew a little bit about what he was talking about when he said you really need to worry about this. But I can assure you that that retired American ambassador to Africa, as Nick Kristof called him in his article, is also pissed off, and has every intention of ensuring that this story has legs. And I think it does have legs. It may not have legs over the next two or three months, but when you see American casualties moving from one to five or to ten per day, and you see Tony Blair's government fall because in the U.K. it is a big story, there will be some ramifications, I think, here in the United States. So I hope that you will do everything you can to keep the pressure on. Because it is absolutely bogus for us to have gone to war the way we did.
The website for EPIC includes a biography of Wilson under the June 14, 2003, event that concludes with this sentence: "He is married to the former Valerie Plame and has four children."
Amazing. At this point in time, and in one single presentation, Wilson has simultaneously (1) again, conflated his trip with knowledge of documents that were not part of either end of that trip, (2) lied about the fact that the trip was assigned to him by the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA on its own (Valerie Plame's division) and not the "government", not the "administration" not the "White House", (3) lied about the intelligence assessment of that trip, (4) presumed that his personal views about Niger, not the CIA consensus view, should be the view of the US government, (5) threatens political retaliation against his own government and the Brits if his view is not adopted, and (6) identifies his motives as tied to an antiwar agenda.
And yet what are the known intelligence facts at this point? (1) Multiple intelligence streams, not inclusive of the October 9, 2002 documents, led the CIA to give high credibility to suspect Iraq-Niger uranium deals. (2) A February 2002 trip by Wilson neither dismantles that view nor brings enough "evidence" to cause the CIA to change it. (3) One single set of intelligence items, which were not part of the intelligence that precipitated Wilson's trip, the documents delivered on October 9, 2002 to the US in Rome, are thought to be suspect. (4) Regardless of the October 9 documents and consistent will the totality of the intelligence streams on the matter, the Butler Commission in Britain stands by the claims of Iraq-Africa uranium deals. as reasonable intelligence assumptions. Yet, Wilson is indignant that his personal view is not the official view? Is it that his view is so correct in the honesty of his own mind, or is that his antiwar agenda is correct, regardless of how much intelligence he knows he is not privy to?
June 30, 2003 - Wilson continues his propaganda campaign to justify himself to the world. In an article in The New Republic, by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman:
Wilson claimed Vice President Cheney received the October 9 documents documents directly from the British a year before Bush spoke the "16 words" in the January 2003 State of the Union. Yet we know that is a bald faced lie because the documents are not known to the US a year before the January 2003 State of Union address. Wilson also related to The New Republic:
Cheney then had given the information to the CIA, which in turn asked a prominent diplomat, who had served as ambassador to three African countries, to investigate. He returned after a visit to Niger in February 2002 and reported to the State Department and the CIA that the documents were forgeries. The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR. But, after a British dossier was released in September detailing the purported uranium purchase, administration officials began citing it anyway, culminating in its inclusion in the State of the Union. "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," the former ambassador tells TNR.
Wilson's lies are now running full steam ahead: (1)Cheney cannot give documents to the CIA in February 2002 that do not even come into US possession until October 2002; (2) for the same reason, Wilson cannot return to report anything on those documents from his trip, and (3) there was no official "report" from Ambassador Wilson on his trip, to be given to anyone, Cheny or otherwise and there is no documented incidence that any special CIA report was made to Cheney concerning Wilson's trip.
Now we have a complete timeline of Wilson's campaign of lies and misrepresentations about the cause of his trip, who authorized it, who organized it, what was the meaning of it and what was the intelligence result from it.
July 6, 2003 - New York Times publishes Wilson's now-famous op-ed. That account differs in important ways from the story Wilson has anonymously provided the Times, the Washington Post and the New Republic.
Wilson acknowledges for the first time he had not seen any forged document. "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." Wilson acknowledged the same thing in an appearance that morning on Meet the Press, saying, "I had not, of course, seen the documents."
And still, the reason Joe Wilson was courted to write an op-ed for the New York Times and to appear on Meet the Press was not because his analysis of the Niger intelligence differed from that of the CIA or of Bush administration policymakers but because according to Wilson he was the man with the proof; but we know he had no such "proof".
Wilson is no "whistleblower", he is a lier and a man on a political agenda,
The frightening and amazing part of these facts is that a substantial body of the leadership of the Democrats and a substantial body of the mainstream media know this timeline and know Wilson's lies completely, and yet he not only remains an unassailable icon for them, but you can scratch his final deafening admissions in his own July 6, 2003 article, because for the Democrats and the mainstream media, all his prior lies fit their template and it is on that template, not the evidence, that they continue to lionize Joe Wilson. Their joint political agenda is everything and the truth is nothing.
As the Plame Timeline opens with:
July 14, 2003 - Robert Novak writes a column in which he names Joseph Wilson's wife, "CIA operative" Valerie Plame. Novak sourced this information to "two senior administration officials."The CIA questioned if Novak's reference had compromised Plame's CIA status and asked the Justice Department to investigate.
December 30, 2003 - Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself in the matter, and Deputy Attorney General James Comey names U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald a special prosecutor to look at the CIA's question.
But without getting into the who talked to who timeline concerning Plame, what is the root story, the root causes behind the Plame saga?
Her husband is a purveyor of lies and a political propagandist with those lies. For whatever personal and political reasons Joe Wilson decided to accept a role in which a foreign trip supplied to him by his wife's position would serve as a means by which he would launch a political campaign against a United States President, with lies.
If it is a fact that Valerie Plame was not fully covered by the requirements of the 1982 law against "outing" a covert intelligence operative, then where is there a crime in whatever response the Bush administration made to provide factual context against Joe Wilson's lies? There is none.
(*)The data for the timeline has come mainly from redacting information from a report in the Weekly Standard by Stephen F. Hayes.
God this gives me a headache.
Could you please shorten this to a postcard size. /sarc
All this for something that IS NOT ILLEGAL!
That was the postcard size, I knew I could not post the encyclopedia version.
Thanks for the post!
Nice Work, Thank You!
I'd give a month's pay to see that.
Very good work, thanks. Bookmark for later reference.
Nice job. Well done.
Please send to any other blogs and Email lists you are on.
Thanks for the timeline. Ya done good.
Since at least 1991, we know that Iraq had in its possession at least 500 metric tons of yellowcake - and it was not prohibited from having it, and it wasn't doing anything with it. Why would an effort to get more either (a) be credible or (b) lead anyone to think it augered some jumpstart in their nuke program?
Is it a crime for a former US ambassador and a current CIA employee to conspire to bring down a presidency? It should be.
Nice summation. It would be interesting to see where Wilson's publicly stated desire to see Rove "frog-marched" out of the White House in handcuffs was made. I have always felt that was the desired result of this plan and if Wilson made that statement before Rove's role was made known.
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