The Magazine

Joe Wilson, Mark Lane, and more.

The media still can't seem to get the Wilson story right.

Jul 24, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 42 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Joe Wilson's Latest 15 Minutes

It has been a tough few weeks for the publicity-hound Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson and his ex-CIA agent wife Valerie Plame. First, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disclosed that Karl Rove, the man Wilson wanted "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs" for supposedly leaking Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak, wouldn't be charged with anything. Fitzgerald's decision makes it extremely unlikely that anyone will be charged with the alleged "crime" that triggered his lengthy investigation. To make matters worse, Plame's deal with Crown Publishing for her memoirs, worth some $2.5 million, was dissolved without explanation from either party.

So late last week, the Wilsons filed a civil suit against several senior Bush administration officials. The lawsuit is a joke. But it provided the couple with another few minutes in the spotlight, and the news media with another opportunity to misreport the basic facts of this entire sorry episode.

In virtually every story about the case, there is a summary paragraph. And in virtually every story about the case, that summary paragraph is wrong. Most of them read like this, from an Associated Press story on July 14 by one Toni Locy:

The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger in early 2002 to determine whether there was any truth to reports that Iraq had made a deal to acquire yellowcake uranium from the government of Niger to make a nuclear weapon. Wilson discounted the reports, but the allegation that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa ended up in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

A Washington Post article tells us:

Despite Wilson's findings, Bush referred to the Niger uranium charges in his 2003 State of the Union speech outlining his reasons for going to war in March of that year.

You get the idea: Bush lied, people died.

We refer our colleagues once more to the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the Iraq-Niger-Wilson affair. Wilson did not "discount" the reports of Iraqi uranium shopping when he was debriefed by the CIA about his trip. According to the Senate report (p. 46), a CIA reports officer gave Wilson's reporting a grade of "good." The officer "judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed that the Iraqis were interested in uranium."

From Conclusion #13 of the Senate Report, we learn that "for most analysts, the information in the [Wilson] report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal."

There's more. A month after Bush's 2003 State of the Union, the CIA was still defending Bush's statement. On February 27, 2003, the CIA responded to a letter from Senator Carl Levin asking for more information on "what the U.S. [intelligence community] knows about Saddam Hussein seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The CIA said it had reporting to "suggest Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Niger."

And where did the U.S. government get the idea that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger? Both from the original reports that led to Wilson's trip and--you guessed it--from "the CIA intelligence report on the former ambassador's trip to Niger."

Mark Lane Returns

Just when we thought that the CIA, ExxonMobil, Mossad, and the British Royal Family had finally gotten away with it, THE SCRAPBOOK learns that Mohamed Al-Fayed, the Egyptian-born proprietor of Harrod's and father of Princess Diana's last boyfriend, Dodi, has commissioned none other than attorney Mark Lane to reinvestigate the 1997 deaths of Diana and Dodi.

Clearly, Mr. Al-Fayed is serious. For in the people's republic of conspiracy theories, the 79-year-old Mr. Lane is a Founding Father. He is the author of Rush to Judgment, the 1965 bestseller that first claimed the Warren Commission covered up the truth about the Kennedy assassination (Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy), and over the years, he has attached himself to the causes of Martin Luther King's murderer, James Earl Ray (another patsy), and the Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame (not a patsy but, presumably, a much-misunderstood man). His labors on behalf of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison inspired Oliver Stone's immortal JFK.