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Joe Wilson's Forgetfulness

5:01 PM, Apr 9, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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You've got to hand it to Joe Wilson. He has certainly cashed in on his celebrity as he tours college campuses making ludicrous statements. Wilson is also someone who is curiously forgetful about facts that involve his behavior and those surrounding his trip to Niger.

''It seems to me that first and foremost, the White House needs to come clean on this matter,'' Wilson told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's ''This Week.'' ''My own view of this is that the White House owes the American people and particularly our service people who have been sent into war, an apology for having misrepresented the facts.''

In case you forgot, Joe Wilson once claimed a role in exposing the Iraq-Niger documents as forgeries. But that wasn't true, as the Senate's 2004 bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq pointed out:

Page 45

The former ambassador also told Committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article…which said, "among the Envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.'" Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong" when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports.

And media reports to the contrary, Wilson did not "debunk" the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium. In fact, most intelligence analysts believed his trip "lent more credibility" to reports that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, and the CIA continued to approve the use of the Iraq-Niger-Uranium language "in Administration publications and speeches, including the State of the Union."
The same Senate report states:

Conclusion 13 (page 73)

The report on the former ambassador's trip to Niger, disseminated in March 2002, did not change any analysts' assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal, but State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts believed that the report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be wiling or able to sell uranium to Iraq.

Conclusion 12 (page 72)

Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence.

Conclusion 19 (page 77)

Even after obtaining the forged documents and being alerted by a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analyst about problems with them, analysts at both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) did not examine them carefully enough to see the obvious problems with the documents. Both agencies continued to publish assessments that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa. In addition, CIA continued to approve the use of similar language in Administration publications and speeches, including the State of the Union.

And, for the record, the British have stood firm in their intelligence on the matter. In fact, the July 2004 Butler report states that the president's uranium reference in his 2003 State of the Union address was "well-founded" and based on intelligence having nothing to do with the forged documents.

Here are the "relevant" bits, on pages 123 and 125:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

'The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa'

was well-founded.

And,

From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that: