Sunday, October 30, 2005

The In-Credible Mr. Wilson.

In the aftermath of Friday’s indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the MSM has engaged in an orgy of blame and reprobation against the Bush Administration. Independent council Patrick Fitzgerald cautioned against reading into the indictment, against using it as a comment on the war. But much of the media has ignored him to do just that. The Philadelphia Enquirer ran a front page "analysis" by Dick Polman with the headline:
“Libby prosecution puts justification for war on trial.” Meanwhile on this morning’s McLaughlin Group, Eleanor Clift the liberal conscience of Newsweek was busy saying that it doesn’t matter that the federal justice system has found it impossible to make a case for an administration wide conspiracy. She is going to help make it in “the court of public opinion.”

In celebration, both CBS’ 60 Minutes, and NBC’s dateline ran pieces about Valerie and Joseph Wilson, featuring interviews with Joseph Wilson. To be sure on Dateline Wilson made a point to demur from claiming victim status for himself or his wife. He made it clear that the victim here is the nation. To be fair this echoes Mr. Fitzpatrick’s assertion, along with the CIA’s that the blowing of Ms Plame/Mrs Wilson’s cover is a National Security issue. And one I have to agree with.

If anyone intentionally blew Ms Plame’s cover, they deserve to be punished. But the burden of proof here is high. To violate this law, one would have to know that the agent’s status was covert. Mr. Fitzpatrick has thus far been unable to make this case against anyone, and in spite of the MSM’s slanted reporting, he has not left the investigation open “against” Carl Rove or anyone else. He has kept the investigation open, and will empanel another grand jury, as a procedural convenience to support the expected US v. Libby trial.

The media has focused entirely on the administration players. They continue to ignore the roles played by some of their own members, including Robert Novack, the man who really damaged National Security by publishing the information. And they have practically lionized Joseph Wilson . This in spite of the essential dishonesty of his original role in this drama. A role which was publicly as petty and destructive as anything that the MSM attributes to Libby, Cheney Rove et al.

Wilson opened the first act with his inaccurate and self centered account of his trip to Niger. Wilson made a variety of claims about this trip which were misleading, some were outright lies. He started lying with his claim that the VP’s office originated the request for his trip, to backstop an unseen intelligence report from the CIA. It turns out the CIA was looking to back up its own position which ran counter to VP’s.

Wilson who never filed a formal report, but was merely debriefed by the State Dept. and CIA, Did write the now famous NY Times Op-Ed piece. In it seemed particularly upset that his information was ignored. This is in spite of the massive amount of equivocal intelligence that was coming in. Nobody listened to poor Joe Wilson. Maybe he should have actually written a report, before he went public.

Wilson seems to think that his inability to find evidence that Hussein had acquired uranium in one country Nigeria disproves that he attempted to acquire it in any African nation. Again to be fair Mr. Wilson, his investigation was probably thorough enough to show that Hussein had not succeeded in acquisition. It in no way proves that Hussein had not inquired about and attempted to purchase yellowcake. Wilson’s case cannot address this, because short of success any attempt would remain covert.

Mr. Wilson was apparently frustrated over what he perceived as the slight of being ignored. Despite the fact that he was a State Dept. officer for over twenty years he seems terribly naïve about the intelligence process. Even though he had never filed an official report of his findings, even though there was a raging debate over the entire intelligence package on WMD, even though his finding didn’t quite disprove a covert attempt somewhere in Africa, he wanted to be listened to.

So when President Bush went on to mention what his people still considered the possibility of Iraqi uranium quest in Africa, Joe Wilson took it personally. Though he had an apparently high standard of proof for the attempt in Africa, he assumed that in “ignoring” his finding (still unpublished), the administration was “intentionally twisting the facts. So he finally sat down to write a report.

This was a public account of the trip on the op-ed page of the NY Times. There for the first time Wilson wrote down the findings of his trip to Niger. But he outright lied about the circumstances leading up to the trip. So now we have a Washington insider, with a wife who not only works for the CIA, but who recommended him for the trip to Niger, writing a false account of how he was selected for that trip, out of pique at being ignored. If I was Valery Plame I’d have killed my husband around then. They both should have suspected what was coming.

While the Wilson’s had a moral right to expect the administration to respect Valery Plame’s career, they should have been savvy enough to see the risk. Particularly since: A) Wilson falsely attributed the VPs office as the originator of his trip. And B) Mrs Wilson nee Plame had actually recommended him for the role. In almost any political staff effective enough to win the presidency, there are going to be operatives well versed in the tactics of smearing in leaking. To expect that everyone who worked for Bush and Cheney would take the moral high ground, and allow Mr. Wilson to perpetuate his false version of why he went to Niger seems the height of folly. In effect Mr. Wilson was hiding behind his wife’s cover, betting that the entirety of the Bush team would let him lie rather than blow her cover. He reminds me of the little boy crying to his mother after picking a fight with his older brother, and losing.

Crossposted at Mudville Gazette
Another Rovian Conspiracy
New England Republican
Betsy's Page


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - does the RNC fax you their talking-points?

Do you know what the CIA thinks of your buddy Dick Cheney? And his underling "Scooter Libby?"

Mon Oct 31, 11:20:00 AM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

To your first point, no. Is there a problem with my taking this point of view? It's my soapbox, and I'll always tell you what I think.

To the second, I am well aware of the justifiable criticism that the CIA has leveled against the administration. I also know there is far more background to the CIA anomosity to Bush and Cheney then has made the press at this time.

I made it pretty clear that I don't condone the "outing" of Ms Plame. But neither should we condone a liar who would use his CIA agent of a wife's cover as a shield for his lies.

Mon Oct 31, 11:43:00 AM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my favorite part of your posting:

"While the Wilson’s had a moral right to expect the administration to respect Valery Plame’s career, they should have been savvy enough to see the risk."

You're right. Wilson should have assumed that the White House was so traitorous that it would blow the cover of a covert CIA agent AND the front company she listed as her employer, which in turn probably blew the covers of a whole bunch of people. Not only that, but given that Plame was an ambassador's wife the White House also endagered the families of every future ambassador.

Yeah, he should have seen that the Bush administration hates this country enough to commit treason during wartime. Silly him.

Mon Oct 31, 02:44:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

Well you throw the word treason around pretty casually. Fortunately the Federal prosecutor has read the penal code. He has brought NO charges against anyone for actually leaking Ms Plame's identity, much less treason.

I've ceded that someone in the Adminitration certainly went too far. But for this to be a violation of the Identities Act, they would have to have known not only that she was a CIA officer, but an undercover operative. So far no proof.

Your conceit, obviously stolen from last nights 60 Minutes, that now all ambassador's wives are now targets is completely facetious and without merit. Our enemies' intelligence arms certainly know that anyone attached to a US embassy could be an intelligence officer. There have been cases in the past of spouses of various embassy employees being intelligence operatives. Oh and by the way, Ambassador's spouses are covered by diplomatic immunity, so a non-official cover status doesn't really apply in those cases.

Finally an administration sets policy. So not only does Bush have the ability to pardon Libby, he could simply issue an exception. The CIA is an executive branch agency, they work for the President. That he has not chosen that option shows a lack of conspiracy.

Once again, lets criticize fairly. There was an objectionable act committed by someone who knew Valery Plame's employer, and POSSIBLY her status, but that doesn't commend Joe Wilson's behavior, he was a liar and a coward.

Mon Oct 31, 06:45:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous AJ said...

The leak DAMAGED the CIA's operations abroad.

What in the world did Joe Wilson have to lie about? He was sent on a mission, by whomever, and reported, whatever he reported. What benefit was it to him to lie?

And what was it that Plame was investigating that the administration didn't like?

The "attack Joe Wilson" is just so beyond stupid. especially coming from people who were so up in arms that Clinton lied about oral sex.

Lying about national security issues is a little worse, couldn't you agree?

Tue Nov 01, 10:40:00 AM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...


The extent of damage to CIA operations remains to be determined. I've been pretty clear that I believe some damage was done, and that I find that problematic. It may or may not be criminal, so far a pretty objective prosecutor with a team of twent investigators has not made a case for a criminal leak.

Joe Wilson did lie. Why? I imagine because he felt slighted and ignored But that's just a guess. He did challenge the administration, with an op-ed in the NY Times that mixed truth and fiction.

Joe Wilson, the MSM, and the left have set him up as a hero. "Attacking" him as you say, is really setting the record straight.

Tue Nov 01, 12:01:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you know Wilson "lied?" Seriously? You make that statement as though its truth. I don't think that's accurate.

Didn't Dick Cheney lie too? Didn't Karl Rove lie?
Didn't Scott McLellan lie? repeatedly?

So they all lie. That's great.

Its just so typical of the right-wing spin machine you apparently want to be a part of to ignore the reality of the problem and ignore the obstruction of justice, and ignore the damage done the prosecutor's investigation, and instead blame Joe Wilson.

Tue Nov 01, 12:49:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

His lies are apparent. Read the analysis above. Lies he told;

1. Cheney's office requested an investigation. Cheney in fact merely expressed doubts.

2. He 'concludes that intelligence was twisted" but his article makes the case only that this was possible.

3. He claims that his African experience led him to play a small role.

A. His wife's suggestion got him the role. A lie of omission, granted a reasonable one, but a lie.

B. If it was a small role, and he did not file a formal report then he can not know who saw his "intgelligence."

4.He lied in follow up interviews when he claimedthat his trip put any attempts at African uranium by Iraq "to bed". It merely casts doubt.

5 One of his bigggest lies, probably a self conceit, is that because he went to Niger, that his unfiled findings would become a major intelligence item.

His op-ed piece, and his subsequent public statements have been laced with this self serving mirepresentation. That's lying!

Tue Nov 01, 01:20:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good:

"The extent of damage to CIA operations remains to be determined. I've been pretty clear that I believe some damage was done, and that I find that problematic."

So you think it might have been "problematic" to reveal the name of a secret agent during wartime? What about Bush's promise to remove anyone who leaked the name? We know that "Official A" in the indictment is Rove, and that regardless of the legalities that Rove was the leaker. Yet he remains. I guess when your a Republican who lies his way into a war, lying about anything else becomes minor.

Tue Nov 01, 01:21:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

correction: "... when you're a Republican who lies his way into a war ..."

Tue Nov 01, 01:22:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

I remain to be convinced we lied our way into war. Sorry, but as a Soldier who served in Iraq I was always pretty clear that WMD were only part of the casus belli, and that there were and are myriad other reasons for being there. Further WMD intelligence was accepted by the Clinton administration, the British(labor) government, and a host of democrats, long before Bush became president.

I do think it's problematic. Bush is entitled to fire whomever he chooses, or to change his mind. While I belive that official A is probably Carl Rove that remains factually dubious. I have never said that culpable individuals should not be punished. But culpability must be proven.

I however am not attempting to conflate the issues as liberals want to here. I a merely pointing out that Joe Wilson should not be running around like a babe in the woods decrying the shabby treatment e invited on himself, by publishing a self serving dishonest account of his role .

Tue Nov 01, 01:33:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Nov 01, 01:56:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

I'm pretty hesitant to start deleting people's comments here. I do it very rarely. I encourage people with opposing views to feel free to make an argument or a case here. Point out factual or logical mistakes in my own arguments. But I'm resistant to having the space dissolve into mere nay-saying. Not to mention that if you begin to personally insult me by questioning ny integrity I'm not likely to let it stand. If you post a disagreement here that's great. But if all you want to do is argue poorly, and ad-nauseum please get your own space, blogger pages are free.

Tue Nov 01, 02:04:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

Oh and if you are going to be a nuisance poster and insult me have the courage to put your name on it, huh?

Tue Nov 01, 02:05:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what he actually said about the Vice President's office:
"In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office."

If Valerie Plame-Wilson had "recommended" you or I, would either of us have been assigned to check out the claim?? Or is it more likely that the CIA would look at his credentials
("For 23 years, from 1976 to 1998, I was a career foreign service officer and ambassador. In 1990, as chargé d'affaires in Baghdad, I was the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein. (I was also a forceful advocate for his removal from Kuwait.) After Iraq, I was President George H. W. Bush's ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe; under President Bill Clinton, I helped direct Africa policy for the National Security Council."), and decide based on his ability?

The overwhelmingly clear evidence to all objective observers is in the President's own words. Why preface the information with "The British Government has learned..." if the US had any intelligence to back up the claim? If it was recent information that had not had time to be verified, it would/should not have been in the speech. But, we know that it had been research and found innaccurate both in the transaction and the documentation of the transaction (by the IAEA), yet it still made it into the President's speech on the State of the Union. At best, this is supremely poor handling of intelligence - at worst, deliberate manipulation as a pretext for war. In short, treason at the highest leavel.

The administration instead of providing any evidence to back their initial claim, leaked the name of his wife (classified information) to reporters - as if that would somehow discredit his information.

In the words of Patrick Fitzgerald:
"Disclosure of the fact that such individuals were employed by the CIA had the potential to damage the national security in ways that ranged from preventing the future use of those individuals in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who dealt with them."

Here is a link to the op-ed in case you would like to read it before further comment:
What I Didn't Find in Africa

Fri Nov 11, 03:07:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

I don't see you protesting the Washington Post's leak of classified information.

Fri Nov 11, 05:04:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, you may want to read up a bit:

"today, in an off-camera meeting with reporters, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) revealed that the leak likely came from a Senator or Senate staffer who attended a GOP-only meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney last week, where the detention centers were discussed."

Fri Nov 11, 05:32:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

oops that is hardly dispositive,
oops he later said he he was talking about McCain's bill:
(one of yours)

oops where's the outrage from the left either way? you were never interested in protecting the CIA, just attacking the Administration.

Sat Nov 12, 10:45:00 AM 2005  

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