10/25/2005

Neocon Apologists Folly

Hinderaker's Folly

Special to Crooks and Liars

by Larry Johnson

If ignorance is bliss, then John Hinderaker is one happy fellow when it comes to talking about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. According to Hinderaker, who was appearing on Howard Kurtz's CNN show about the media, he trots out once again the big lie of Republican talking points by claiming that Joe Wilson lied in his July 2003 op-ed. Hinderaker says that Wilson, "reported to the CIA that what he found out was that Saddam Hussein in fact had tried to buy uranium from Niger in the late 1990s. He then wrote an op-ed in which he lied about his own report."

Excuse me. Are all rightwingers this stupid or is this guy just uniquely ignorant. You don't have to take my word for it, just read The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's PreWar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (July 2004), pages 43-47. However, you'll have to read carefully because the Republican staff who wrote this report tried their best to obfuscate and confuse the matter. These are the clear facts:

1. Prior to Joe Wilson's trip to Niger, most of the U.S. intelligence community (the CIA and State Department's INR) did not believe Iraq was trying to buy uraniusm from Niger. The intelligence community had received two intelligence reports from the same source (the Italian intelligence service)in the previous six months and did not find them credible.

2. Joe Wilson and the U.S. Ambassador to Niger both told the Senate investigators that they each concluded separately that there was nothing to the story that Iraq was trying to buy uranium, or could even do so, because of the local controls in place. (See p. 42 of the Senate report).

3. Joe Wilson returned from his Niger trip in March of 2002 and was debriefed by CIA officers on March 5. They in turn produced an intelligence report based on Ambassador Wilson's trip. He was not provided a chance to review or approve the report. The CIA's Directorate of Operations gave the report based on the Ambassador's debriefing a grade of good.

4. According to the Senate report, the results of Joe Wilson's trip to Niger were not shared with the Vice President because it did not provide any new information to clarify the issue.

In other words, the intelligence community discounted the notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. They continued to hold this position even in the now discredited October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. Moreover, even though the British Government provided a "white paper" that seemed to bolster the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa, the intelligence analysts also dismissed the British paper as not credible. Senior CIA officials repeatedly briefed U.S. policymakers and legislators that there was no substance to the reports claiming that Iraq was up to no good in Africa.

Those are the facts. Unfortunately, guys like Hinderaker prefer neocon fantasies. The desperation of Hinderaker and his ilk should serve as a strong reminder that the group who got us into war in Iraq have learned nothing in the last four years.

Larry Johnson

Hinderaker's Folly

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