October 22, 2003


Linkage logarithms (Mark Steyn, 10/21/03, Jewish World Review)

Here's an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the U.S. introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution?

That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances nothing was going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis vehemently opposed war with Saddam.

Think about that. To investigate Saddam Hussein's attempted acquisition of uranium, the United States government sent a man in the pay of the Saudi government. The Saudis set up schools that turn out terrorists. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They set up think tanks that buy up and neuter the U..S diplomatic corps. And their ambassador's wife funnels charitable donations to the September 11 hijackers.

But it's all just an unfortunate coincidence, isn't it? After all, the Saudis are our friends. Thank goodness.

The dots don't necessarily all connect, but they're still dots.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2003 9:11 AM

The dots do make the question of how Wilson was picked and why more important.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 22, 2003 9:51 AM

They connect for me. Maybe only by a dotted line now ... but they connect. We need an investigation of Wilson's role in detail and the M.E.I. shut down for the duration. If Wilson were genuine he would have recused himself from the CIA assignment. If the CIA were genuine they wouldn't have asked him.

Posted by: genecis at October 22, 2003 10:47 AM

This is ridiculous. For the best summary of Joseph Wilson's role in the run-up to the Iraq war, and the bogus "intelligence" that Iraq ever attempted to purchase uranium in Niger, see http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?031027fa_fact while the article is still up and available for free. Wilson's assessment was confirmed by the same Italian journalist responsible for obtaining the bogus Niger documents in the first place; in point of fact, these documents surfaced _after_ Wilson's mission, but before it had been publicized. As for this asinine conspiracy-mongering, Wilson was the ideal man for the job, regardless of his political affiliation. He was also right.

What we need an investigation for is a research inquiry into how deep and lasting the damage to our nation's intelligence apparatus will be after the Bush Administration is done with it. And an estimate of how many lives will be lost as a result.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 22, 2003 11:14 AM


Is that the Seymour Hersh piece that says the CIA manufactured the evidence that you're citing for the proposition that Wilson wasn't a CIA tool?

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 11:43 AM

I now see where you are going with this. The answer to your question is yes, it is the same article in which the major speculation as to who forged the Niger documents centers around a plot by former and/or current CIA people to sucker the Bush Administration with bogus evidence.

Let's assume that this is correct. Then we know (1) the Niger "evidence" _was_ bogus; (2) the Bush Administration, in their arrogance and stupidity, fell for it completely. (Actually, both items are accurate regardless of who forged the documents.)

This changes nothing regarding Wilson. His original mission to Niger predated the forged documents. For him to have been a "tool," the intelligence that spurred the investigation (which originated in Italy) would also have had to have been planted by the CIA. Wilson's mission was also made at the behest of the Vice President's office. Finally, Wilson's report was completely accurate, but ignored by the Bush Administration.

It's funny that you chose to focus on that part of the New Yorker piece. The "stovepiping" information, and the detailed history of the Bush Administration's attitude toward intelligence, would seem to have been the more relevant (and more substantiated) point.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 22, 2003 12:04 PM

More relevant than the CIA trying to undermine the nation's elected leadership?

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 12:09 PM

OJ: Your point is relevant only if the conspiracy in question is real. That seems uncertain, and there is at least one piece of conflicting information in the New Yorker piece. I aver that my own points regarding the Bush Administration are accurate in any scenario.

That said, if the forged Niger documents were a CIA product, then the motives behind them are of no consequence and the forgers should be prosecuted. Their "Frankenstein" may have gotten out of hand, but they are no less responsible for the consequences. Of course, those consequences are almost entirely political, given that the invasion of Iraq was a foregone conclusion with or without an argument for WMDs there.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 22, 2003 12:18 PM

It makes no difference whether either story (uranium itself or the forgery part) is true--what we're talking about here is a clandestine bureaucracy which everyone on the inside understands to be at war with the administration.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 12:30 PM

It does make a difference -- if Hersh's CIA story is right (and Seymour has been wrong in the past, re the KAL 007 spy plane fable), and the agency did plant bogus information to get back at the Bush administration, what's to prevent those same agents from withholding relevant information about a possible terror plot in the future in another effort to embarrass the White House. Bush would certainly be hurt by that, as could possible 10,000 to 100,000 or more other Americans.

Posted by: John at October 22, 2003 2:24 PM

"For the best summary..."? Seymour Hersh? If the moon were full this might be understandable - but it is not. Has history been totally removed as subject matter in all disciplines and all schools?

It is one thing to grasp a sturdy branch if you are caught up in a torrent, quite another to grasp a sodden twig.

Posted by: RDB at October 22, 2003 7:47 PM

M. B.

"Wilson was the ideal man for the job"

By whose measure? Compared to? Qualified by?

Posted by: at October 23, 2003 12:18 AM