Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rove's Innocent - Who's Guilty?

This whole Niger yellowcake/Valerie Plame flap has smelled like a setup from day one. Not surprisingly the Democrats have zeroed in on Karl Rove as the Darth Vader of Starship Bush. Who else? For who has kicked their rears repeatedly and roundly in election after election? "If you can't beat someone in a fair fight, get the law after them" has always been an effective Democrat game plan. Even if you can't prove anything, the allegations themselves put a cloud over the person's head and force him or her to squander time and money in self-defense that would otherwise be spent continuing to whip Democrats. This time, with the Leftist media carrying their water as usual, they've managed to turn a non-issue into Watergate II.

If you remember, back in 2003, President Bush claimed in his State of the Union address that "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This was one of the claims regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which bolstered Bush's case for invading Iraq and are now known as the infamous "sixteen words."

The impetus for this claim was a visit in 1999 by Iraqi diplomats to the nation of Niger, whose main export product is milled uranium oxide or "yellowcake". They discussed "expanding commercial relations" with Niger's prime minister, Ibrahim Mayaki, who interpreted this to mean they were interested in yellowcake, since it was Niger's main export and the only one that Iraq could conceivably want. British intelligence learned of this meeting and with other corroborating information concluded that the Iraqis had indeed sought to purchase yellowcake from Niger during their 1999 trip.

Since this claim subsequently stirred so much controversy, in 2004 the British government commissioned a panel led by former cabinet member and current president of Oxford, Lord Butler to investigate whether or not British intelligence had gotten it right. Their six month investigation concluded that British intelligence had information "from several different sources" which supported their assessment and they have not backed down since.

In 2002, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson traveled to Niger ostensibly to learn whether or not allegations of uranium sales to Iraq were true. Now, Mr. Wilson and his wife are both Democrats and Wilson is a vitriolic opponent of G.W. Bush and his policies. His whole story doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Wilson claimed his trip was requested by the Vice President. The VP said no. I’ll go with Cheney on this one. Why would the administration send an opponent of its policies to do anything, much less a sensitive trip like that? That sounded fishy to me from day one.

In his own words, Joe Wilson spent “eight days sipping sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people.” He claims he didn’t turn up anything. However, what he reported to the CIA was quite different. Rather than debunking the story the CIA thought his information confirmed their suspicions. Wilson had met with Prime Minister Mayaki who told him about the Iraqis desire to expand "commercial relations" which Mayaki took to mean trade in uranium.

Since the Iraqis didn't get the stuff, Wilson dismissed that as a non-story. But it's the whole story! In fact, in his report to the CIA, Wilson also said Niger's former minister of mines told him that the Iraqis had tried to purchase 400 tons of uranium in 1998! How is that not evidence??

Concurrently, the CIA received reports that the Iraqis had also sought to purchase uranium from Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So at that point it was reasonable to assume that the Iraqis were indeed seeking to obtain uranium, and that is what Bush said in his speech. Remember, Bush said Iraq "sought" uranium. He did not say they got it.

But around the same time, documents were forwarded to the US from the Italian Government purportedly outlining an agreement between Iraq and Niger to purchase 500 tons of yellowcake. The documents were obvious forgeries. The CIA at first ignored these documents. They had gotten enough information already with which to draw conclusions.

However, the Leftist press has made much of the fake documents and hypes stories that they were knowingly used to make an inflated case for invading Iraq--or at the very least that they debunked the whole WMD issue. They falsely claim the fake documents were the sole evidence the Bush administration used, when in fact ample, credible evidence already existed. Some even suggested that a low level Bush functionary might have forged the documents to please his boss. Who says the Left doesn't believe in black helicopters?

This whole analysis stinks. Why would anyone attempt to use blatant forgeries to make a case for war? A more likely explanation is that they were created to discredit the Niger yellowcake story. It is a common dirty trick in the intelligence business used to throw people off the track when they are dangerously close to the truth. You create documents of doubtful authenticity that support your opponent's position. When they are exposed as fakes, the effect is to cast doubt on his credibility and make his entire case appear contrived. The Russians are particularly good at this kind of game, but there are others who didn't want Iraq to be invaded either: France, Germany, even Iraq itself. Any one of them could be suspect. Who knows, maybe even Joe Wilson dreamed up the scam. Why not? He lied about everything else.

Even though it was too late to stop the war, the forgeries seem to have had their intended purpose. George W. Bush's whole case for war has been called into question. Furthermore, having come from the Italian government, the documents did double duty by discrediting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of President Bush's staunchest supporters in the War on Terror. And because they continue to promote the lie that the British government used the fake documents to reach their conclusions, the Leftist media has also managed to smear our key ally.

The Senate Intelligence committee investigated the whole issue and found that the CIA's initial assessment was justifiable and did not rely at all on the forged documents. They also revealed that Joe Wilson had lied through his teeth in all his public revelations about the Iraq/Niger connection.

So in wondering aloud who might have sent a partisan opponent like Joe Wilson to Niger, some administration official had the temerity to suggest it was his wife--an assertion borne out by the facts. But instead of sheepishly admitting this little bit of partisan nepotism, Joe played up the wounded, self-righteous outrage act and accused the administration of maliciously "leaking" her name. In the process he also cleverly deflected questions about who really sent him and why. How convenient.

The Senate Intelligence committee investigators found that Wilson had indeed been recommended by his wife. According to their report a CIA official said Plame offered her husband’s name to the CIA's Director of Operations for an exploratory trip to Niger. She explained that Mr. Wilson knew both the Prime Minister of Niger and the former Minister of Mines and thus could perhaps gain useful information. Plame told her husband “there’s this crazy report” about Iraq getting uranium from Niger. The committee also revealed that Plame had set up another trip her husband took to Niger in 1999.

When asked in a July 9, 2004 interview about Plame's memo suggesting him for the trip, Wilson lamely answered: "I don't see it as a recommendation to send me." I guess that's one of those things that depends on what the definition of "is" is.

So now we have the specter of New York Times journalist Judith Miller in jail, refusing to reveal her sources regarding who "leaked" Valerie's name. If the source was Karl Rove, why isn't she talking? Rove signed an agreement authorizing any member of the media to testify about conversations they may have had.

The entire media establishment has been trying to get Rove since day one. Since when have they stood on principle to protect any republican, except perhaps John Dean, from anything? This confused me at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized that they likely had a completely different reason for not revealing their source: it wasn't Karl Rove! In fact, maybe it was Plame's pathological liar of a husband, Joe Wilson, who started this whole thing in the first place. If not, then it is doubtless someone else the New York Times would be embarrassed to reveal. Hopefully we'll find out.

I think we should start another investigation. Why, how and when did Joseph Wilson get involved? What about his wife? Is she even an operative? Her job description sounds much more like that of an analyst, a job for which cover is not required. No one will answer.

Both the New York Times and Time magazine have said in depositions they do not believe Rove broke the law. Why hasn't this been page one news? Everything negative they can dig up is. A lot of questions about this story have not even been asked, much less answered. Don't count on the national news media to help us out there, however. I don't think they want us to see the answers. Hopefully I have provided some of them here.