October 30, 2005


Our 27 months of hell (Joseph C. Wilson IV, October 29, 2005, LA Times)

AFTER THE two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Between us, Valerie and I have served the United States for nearly 43 years. I was President George H.W. Bush's acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, and I served as ambassador to two African nations for him and President Clinton. Valerie worked undercover for the CIA in several overseas assignments and in areas related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.

Correction: You changed it yourself on July 6, 2003, the day you and your wife decided to make public your CIA mission, if not earlier, Fall Of A Vulcan:
How a very smart and very loyal aide to Dick Cheney got indicted for allegedly lying about his role in defending the war (MICHAEL DUFFY, 10/30/05, TIME)
For anyone who has been trying to follow the bewildering saga of Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Joseph Wilson and his wife CIA officer Valerie Plame, Fitzgerald's indictment is a helpful road map. [...]

Fitzgerald's theory of the case can be broken into three parts: The hunt for the whistle-blower The story begins with a mystery man who was dissing the Bush team from somewhere within the government. In May 2003, shortly after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof first wrote about a secret CIA mission to Africa by an unnamed U.S. ambassador to assess suggestions by Cheney's office that Iraq had tried to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger, Libby asked Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman to go digging for more information on the mission. It was not an idle inquiry: the 2002 trip, taken by a former U.S. ambassador to Gabon, Joseph Wilson, had turned up no evidence that Iraq sought the uranium ore for its nuclear weapons program, as Cheney's office had suggested. And although Wilson reported his findings to the CIA, the claim about the African yellowcake kept popping up in Administration speeches in the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq. At Libby's behest, Grossman ordered the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (inr) to look into the CIA mission to Africa.

Over the next few weeks, Libby got progress reports from the inr, and Grossman eventually informed Libby that it was Wilson who took the trip, that his wife worked at the CIA and that she may have played a role in sending Wilson on the trip. Fitzgerald's indictment alleges that Libby heard similar reports about Wilson and his wife from a senior CIA official and, on June 12, from Cheney, who by then knew that Wilson's wife worked in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division.

To hard-liners like Libby, who believed that the CIA opposed the war in Iraq and had been quietly undercutting the President for months, it appeared that the CIA was turning on Cheney too. "Scooter thought the CIA was trying to screw us," says a former colleague of Libby's.

And almost on cue, the hard-liners' dark fears were realized: within a week, a June 19 online article by the New Republic quoted an unnamed U.S. envoy, who was clearly Wilson, alleging that the Administration knew the yellowcake story "was a flat-out lie" but had used it in the prewar claims anyway. Not long after, Fitzgerald alleges, Libby spoke with his deputy about the article, and the two aides discussed whether information about Wilson's trip might be shared with the press. Libby demurred, saying such a move would cause "complications at the CIA," but added that he "could not discuss the matter on a nonsecure phone."

Just a few days later, on June 23, Libby met at the Old Executive Office Building with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who wrote a series of highly controversial, and now largely discredited, stories about Iraq's prewar arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

It was in that session that Libby groused about "selective leaking" at the CIA and first disclosed that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA.

Two weeks later, on July 6, Wilson went public, writing an Op-Ed column in the New York Times, retelling the story of his fruitless trip to Niger and hinting that the Bush team didn't really want to know if the prewar intelligence was accurate or not.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2005 12:27 PM

He thinks he will be Secy. of Something in the next Administration? Let it go, Joe - even John Kerry didn't want you.

And being published by the LA Times, well, let's just say it isn't The New Republic.

Posted by: ratbert at October 30, 2005 9:13 PM

The truly sad and disgusting part of this whole saga is that US soldiers and sailors are dying and continuing to die as we all sit and shake our collective heads about the immorality of it all!

Posted by: Oldkayaker at October 30, 2005 9:37 PM

Additional Comment/Question:

Would someone please explain what the Bush people were trying to accomplish by connecting Wilson's investigatory trip to Africa as something requested by the CIA?

What would have been sooo.... damaging about this investigation being at CIA request?

And, the findings of NO yellowcake for Iraq...how would that finding be any less true if the CIA asked for the investigation or not?

Still mystified over that aspect of the this whole sad affair.

Posted by: Oldkayaker at October 30, 2005 9:50 PM

Uh, Oldkayaker, maybe the Bush people didn't have to work hard to make the connection because the trip was set up by the CIA? In response to some request from the Administration, to be sure, but he went at the behest of Ms. Covert, didn't he?

And as to what Joe found, well, no one wanted that written down, now did they? He sat by the pool and did who knows what. The British stand by their intelligence, and the CIA stands by Joe Wilson. Which would you choose?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 30, 2005 10:40 PM

Interesting how the 27 months of hell included Valerie's fawning photo spread in Vanity Fair and Joe's book deal.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 31, 2005 6:50 AM


Wait until you see her in Playboy, wearing nothing but a trench coat. After all, where else can she go now?

Posted by: ratbert at October 31, 2005 10:12 AM


Old Media was reporting that Wilson's trip had been organized by the VP's office. Pointing out the CIA sponsorship was a means to demonstration the falseness of that reporting.

Moreover, Wilson's actual report in no way disproved the Iraq/Niger/Uranium connection, in fact it was very weak positive evidence. Regardless, the claim that this or the faked documents had anything to do with the "16 words" in the 2003 State of the Union is obviously bogus, since it was credited to information from the UK, right there in the speech, and the UK has never withdrawn that claim.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 31, 2005 11:29 AM

Soooo.... what some of you are saying is that British intelligence trumps CIA; but, that still leaves unanswered my question regarding what were the Bush "smear boys and girls" trying to accomplish by their Wilson CIA link?

The average American is baffled!

Posted by: Oldkayaker at October 31, 2005 6:07 PM


Seems to me that the CIA was trying to ace out the WH with its own info that did not refute what the president said. The WH therefore had to come out and show that it was not using the CIA fake info. After all, the pres said getting yellowcake in Africa, not getting yellowcake in Niger. For the CIA and Wilson then to say it was not true because Niger did not sell Iraq yellowcake was not saying the same thing. Also the WH said Iraq was trying to get yellowcake and Wilson said Iraq did not get yellowcake. Still not the same thing but Wilson and the CIA were trying to present it as the same. The WH was not smearing Wilson, just setting the record straight while Wilson was trying to smear the WH and lying to do so. Kristof of the Times was also involved in this because he interviewed Wilson and spread his lies. The dems have been trying to dine out on this ever since as has Wilson and those of us who actually listened to what was said have called them on it. Ergo the libs and the MoveOn idiots have lost again.

Posted by: dick at October 31, 2005 6:36 PM

old kayaker,

is there anything that would make any war justifiable to you ? i mean, besides having a democrat in office.

Posted by: ward churchill at October 31, 2005 7:15 PM


First of all, have you ever put yourself or had yourself put into a combat zone? You ever shoot at or been in a position to be shot at by someone intent on killing you even though you know nothing about that person or him about you?

Answer those questions first, then I'll tell you when I think war is justified.

Incidentally, my answers to both questions above is Yes.

Posted by: Oldkayaker at October 31, 2005 9:42 PM

yes, my country is a combat zone and people who I know nothing about want to kill me and my brethren. in fact they did kill over 3,000 of my people several years ago. don't worry though, my people are a hardy and fierce tribe, and we will make the bad people pay one thousand times over.

Posted by: ward churchill at November 1, 2005 1:34 AM

Cute reply Churchill! But, not the answer to the question you know was being asked.

I've no time for cute word games. I'll leave that to the "smear folks".

The issues are whether Iraq had WMD's or not? Was Iraq an imminent threat to USA? Was drawing down the Afghanistan effort and diverting that effort to Iraq justified in light of Saddam's containment?

Those are some of the major issues that should have been honestly and openly resolved when considering whether the Iraq war was justified or not, don't you agree?

Posted by: oldkayaker at November 1, 2005 1:40 PM

1. ask the kurds if saddam had wmd; also take a peek at the inventory of wmd the un inspectors

2. was iraq an imminent threat to the u.s. ? probably not. was it a medium term threat ? yes

3. what draw down of the afghan effort ? the taliban had been exterminated, there was no need for a large force there

do you think removing saddam was a good thing, and if not, why not ?

Posted by: ward churchill at November 1, 2005 3:53 PM

Removing Saddam, Quaddfi, Milsovic, Mugabe and the list goes on and on... sure, in a perfect world, removing those tyrants is a good and moral action; that said, why mislead, add unsubstantiated twisted reasons to the agrument?

The Iraq invasion was sold as more than just removal of Saddam.

And the Afghan effort is not over now is it? OBL is still out there, not in Iraq, but still out there, right?

Afghanistan and Pakistan border areas were the likeliest places, we were told, to find OBL; but, that effort has been diverted.

Posted by: oldkayaker at November 1, 2005 4:29 PM

the only threat osama poses is spilling his colostomy bag on someone's feet, if even that.

it sounds like your complaint centers around the justification given to invade iraq. if the war is just, the reasons are really just window dressing for the faint of heart, imo. 50M people now breathe free, so in my book that trumps all else.

nice chatting...

Posted by: ward churchill at November 1, 2005 5:49 PM

Churchill says:

"...if the war is just, the reasons are just window dressing for the faint of heart..."

Wow, then you accept lies as justification!

The ends justify the means for you!

Have we come this far as a nation? Did we learn nothing from Gulf of Tonkin lies?

Posted by: oldkayaker at November 1, 2005 9:23 PM

old k. what are you doing here ? my blog is on the other side of the street. we are having a lottery, with Bund mementos as prizes, so don't be late.

Posted by: pat buchanon at November 2, 2005 1:57 AM

Which Pat Buchanon are you?

Posted by: oldkayaker at November 2, 2005 5:23 PM

Oh yoohoo! Pat B.!

Do you have any connection to the publication of this article in American Conservative?:


Seems to be a reasonable summary to date.

Posted by: Oldkayaker at November 3, 2005 9:26 PM