Skip to comments.Is Everything We Know About Joe Wilson’s Trip to Niger Wrong?
Posted on 02/07/2007 5:30:00 AM PST by slowhand520
Is Everything We Know About Joe Wilsons Trip to Niger Wrong? New evidence from the Libby trial evidence Senate investigators never saw could change the storyline.
By Byron York
For the last two weeks, a number of Republicans in Washington in the administration, on Capitol Hill, and in the intelligence community have been watching closely as the perjury and obstruction of justice trial of Lewis Libby unfolds in federal court. In particular, those Republicans have been poring over dozens of documents released as evidence in the case. Much of what theyve seen is old stuff, things theyve known about for years. But two documents are new, to most eyes at least, and they may significantly change our understanding of how the entire Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame Wilson-Niger affair began.
The accepted version of events is that Vice President Dick Cheney got things started when he asked for information about possible Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium in Africa. After that request, CIA employee Valerie Plame Wilson suggested sending her husband to look into the question, and after that, the CIA flew Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate. But the new documents suggest that Mrs. Wilson suggested her husband for the trip before the vice president made his request. In other words, Joseph Wilsons visit to Niger, which everyone believes was undertaken at the behest of the vice president, was actually in the works before Dick Cheney asked his now-famous question. And if that is true, our current understanding of the chronology of events is wrong.
The story is contained in two exhibits, known in court as DX 66.2 and DX 66.3, entered into evidence by Libbys defense team. The first is a CIA document headlined, Briefers Tasking for Richard Cheney on 02/13/2002. It begins:
Briefer: David D. Terry Briefing Date: 02/13/2002 Principal: Richard Cheney
Tasking: The VP was shown an assessment (he thought from [the Defense Intelligence Agency]) that Iraq is purchasing uranium from Africa. He would like our assessment of that transaction and its implications for Iraqs nuclear program. A memo for tomorrows brief would be great.
The document doesnt seem particularly newsworthy until it is viewed alongside a memo first revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee in its report on the African uranium matter, released in July 2004. That report cited an e-mail written by Valerie Plame Wilson to her boss, the deputy chief of the CIAs Counterproliferation Division, in which she suggested her husband for the fact-finding mission to Niger. A CIA official told the committee that Mrs. Wilson offered up [Joseph Wilsons] name for the job, and the Senate report quoted the e-mail written by Mrs. Wilson saying, my 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.
According to the Senate report, Valerie Plame Wilson sent her e-mail on February 12, 2002 the day before the vice president was briefed on the African uranium matter. The discrepancy between the two dates seems glaring, but was not included in the Senate report. That is because, according to a source familiar with the committees investigation, the CIA did not include the document in the materials it turned over to the committee. Senate investigators apparently never knew the exact date of the vice presidents request, so they never knew it came after Plames e-mail.
What does the new information mean? On February 12, 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency released inside the government, not publicly a report covering the Africa uranium issue; its title said that Niger had signed an agreement to sell 500 tons of uranium a year to Baghdad. CIA officials told Senate investigators the report spurred requests for information from both the State Department and the Department of Defense. Knowledgeable sources speculate and they stress, they are speculating that those inquiries from State and Defense were made on the 12th, the day the Defense Intelligence Agency report was sent around, and that Valerie Plame Wilson, in suggesting her husband be sent to investigate, was reacting to those requests, and not to the vice presidents question, which came the next day. In this new version of events, Dick Cheney was the last guy to request more information, not the first; the notion that his request started the whole affair seems wrong.
The other new document entered into evidence in the trial is another CIA memo, this one headlined Memorandum for the Vice President and dated February 14, 2002. That memo appears to begin its not possible to say for sure because it is blacked out with a discussion of the uranium issue, followed by this statement:
We have tasked our clandestine source[s] with ties to the Nigerien Government and consortium officials to seek additional information on the contract. We also are working with the Embassy and the defense attachés office in Niamey [Niger] to verify their reports.
It is not clear from the poorly-defined copies released as evidence whether the memo refers to a clandestine source or clandestine sources. But from everything that we know about the case, Joseph Wilson was the person who was given the assignment to check out the Niger uranium story. Embassy officials were also told about it, as the memo indicates, but Wilson was the CIAs man with ties to the Nigerien government.
If the timing spelled out in the new document is accurate if Wilson had already been picked for the task by February 14 the new evidence sheds a different light on the version of events given by Wilson himself in his book The Politics of Truth. In that, Wilson wrote about a meeting with CIA officials a meeting that took place on February 19, 2002 at which I was asked if I would be willing to travel to Niger to check out the report in question. Perhaps Wilson was indeed asked to go to Niger at that meeting, but the newly-released CIA document suggests the agency settled on Wilson several days earlier.
The source familiar with the Senate Intelligence Committees investigation says the committee was never given the second document, either.
Perhaps it will turn out that there is some mistake in the memos, or in the interpretation of them, and that the generally-accepted version of the story remains accurate. But if the story told in the newly-public memos is correct, our entire understanding of how the CIA leak affair began will have to change.
I'm sure that this information will be featured on page one of the NYT, above the fold!
< /sarc >
And exactly how did Wilson 'investigate' the report? Sipping tea with the leaders of the country and asking them "pretty please - tell me if you are selling uranium to Iraq- c'mon, I won't tell- with sugar on it?"
And, of course, they'll get away with it...again.
I go from seething rage to abject depression these days.
Wilson claimed from the beginning that Cheney sent him to Niger--that never made sense. This proves that his wife was responsible.
Byron York engages in too much ass-covering in this article for me to take it seriously. Come back when you've got some confidence in your assertions, Mr. York.
Is that the reason why Matthews let an F bomb slip on Imus this AM?
Shermy is that correct?
That was already known.
"I don't see much significance in this."
1. It eliminates the idea that Cheney was desperately doing anything he could to dredge up a reason to go to war. The DIA and the CIA were ahead of him on this.
2. The CIA selected who would go BEFORE Cheney even asked. It's called "Shaping Policy".
3. It gives the VP a HUGE reason to wonder and start asking about Joe Wilson's story - It was a lie and the VP knew it was a lie.
4. This is now DOCUMENTED. Not rumor but DOCUMENTED.
5. It is further proof of the cabal within the CIA that was working to take down the President. They planned this from the start.
The CIA gave the SSCI enough to prove that Wilson was lying in several particulars, so why did they hold back on these documents showing that the Wilson trip pre-dated the VP's request for more info?
I'll indulge in some rank speculation.
To protect themselves - the bureaucratic prime directive.
But from what?
From disclosure that the CIA was running an active disinformation op and "silent coup" against the WH and Cheney in particular. Wilson was sent out with the mission of first inducing reliance upon and then discrediting the African uranium reports. Like the forgeries themselves, he was intended to suck people into relying on his actual substantiation of Iraqi uranium scouting in Afrida, and to then repudiate it and pull the rug out from under them and discredit them. The CIA sent him. The CIA let him lie in the NYT. The CIA very reluctantly on a Friday evening issued a statement contradicting Wilson. The CIA first supported the 16 words, but then withdrew the support when it was completely unnecessary to do so, severely discrediting the President. The CIA resisted decassifying NIE portions that discredited Wilson, but was obviated by the President's declassification decision - a decision that was kept from the CIA at first. It was Tenet who first said Iraqi WMD was a slam dunk but later allowed Wilson to spread his lies, and later demanded a DOJ criminal prosecution over the WH's rebuttal of Wilson's lies. The target of that referral was Cheney.
The President might want to ask Tenet to give back that Medal of Freedom.
IIRC, yes that was claimed, but I'm not certain.
And even that doesn't make sense. Why on earth would a former ambassador be sent to investigate illegal sales? Of course this must have been Novak's train of thought as well-"How did Wilson get picked?"
It seems pretty clear the CIA listend to Valerie.
Here is the twist....Alan Foley is on record DENYING he was her boss.
The significance here is (if true), even THAT statement by Wilson was wrong.
I don't see much significance here either. So what if he was wrong, he wasn't asked till after both actions took place, the VP did ask that SOMEONE be sent, even though the CIA had already been asking. So what? Don't get me wrong, I know Wilson was a lying SOB, but this doesn't seem significant to me.
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