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July 14, 2005


In some editions of the Post, a July 10 story on a new Senate report on intelligence failures said that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV told his contacts at the CIA that Iraq had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from the African nation of Niger in 1998.

Unless I missed something, that's false too: Wilson told the CIA that the former president of Niger had met with an Iraqi trade delegation in 1998 and that the former president had concluded that the Iraqis were interested in obtaining uranium despite the fact that the subject was never once broached. He may have been correct -- I'm certainly not willing to categorically say he was wrong -- but as yet the jury's still out on the purpose of that trip.

And if that was actually Iran, not Iraq, that was making those overtures... wow, you're right, that is indeed a minor factual point worth making. Egads.

Anarch: I haven't gone back to the report to check, what with one thing and another, but: my reading of the WaPo story, which may be wrong, was that what Wilson told the CIA about Iraq was true and about Iraq, but that he had also told them something else about Iranian contacts with Niger, which the Post had -- oops! -- said was about Iraqi contacts, because of a typo.

I posted this because I could just see this developing into a full-blown talking point, which would of course be fine if it were based on something other than a Post typo. Like, say, a fact.

Mm, I believe you're way late and it is already in use as a talking point. I believe I have seen it deployed on this very blog.

Sheesh, doesn't anyone know that Iran and Iraq are different countries?

As for what the prime minister of Niger thought, as I have said before, personal face-to-face discussions hinting at illegal transfers is exactly what you would expect if Iraq really did seek uranium. The trade delegation to Niger never engaged in actual trade, and Niger doesn't have much to trade other than uranium.

An analogy would be hinting at a merger between two companies. In the very very initial stages you want to have deniability options about the idea that you are even looking. So two CEOs might be talking about interesting facets of their business and the one who is interested in having the business acquired might suggest some interesting business synergies and see how that goes over. If this took place at a random encounter, you wouldn't read too much into it. But if one guy took pains to meet the other, travelled hundreds of miles hints doesn't get the follow up he wants and then doesn't engage in any other business, the travelled-to CEO will form an absolutely correct impression "despite the fact that the subject was never once broached". I know Democrats are big on diplomacy, so it is rather surprising to me that they don't seem to be able to grasp the point that in one of the most clearly illegal trading inquiries with a country which is under intense scrutiny, the diplomatic way of approaching things would be for Saddam to send a face-to-face delegation to gently broach the subject. If you can't believe the prime minister who was present about the probable purpose of the visit (and if you don't notice that Niger has very little to offer in the way of trade other than uranium) sure you aren't likely to find some kind of documentation with an engraved invitation to engage in illegal activity with Saddam's regime. And since a transfer never took place, you won't find records of a transfer.

But the apparent fact that in 1998 (when Saddam was busy restricting the inspectors strictly to their hotels) Saddam was also sending a high level delegation to Niger where the prime minister of Niger formed the impression that the delegation was hinting at illegal trade in uranium (the only major export of Niger) is certainly not worth dismissing as ridiculous the way Wilson tries to when he uses carefully parsed sentences suggesting that Saddam did not RECEIVE uranium from Niger as evidence to disprove Bush's assertion that Saddam actively SOUGHT uranium.

I note again the time period--1998--when the inspectors were not allowed to be active at all and right before they were barred from the country.

"I note again the time period--1998--when the inspectors were not allowed to be active at all and right before they were barred from the country."

I note again the time period: right before the WMD programs were blowed the fuck up, rendering further attempts to obtain yellowcake pointless.

Posting rules, Jon H.

Woops, sorry, my bad, I thought I was Wonkette there for a minute.

Is there any confirmation of whether the Nigerien PM met with an Iranian delegation rather than an Iraqi delegation?

Ah, yes there is, the issue is nicely encapsulated on pages 43 and 44.

Open thread? Did someone say open thread?

Ya know, there are other controversies in the blogosphere besides terrorism and treason in the Whitehouse.

Like, why do jerks always get the girls, and nice guys never get laid? Many blogs have been analyzing this question, which is important to those of us who feel sorry for the nice guys, or just want them to stop whining. I personally think a geek is an important fashion accessory for the well-appointed seducer, a sensitive feminist sidekick who can talk about Alexis Bledel and Hillary's chances in 2008 improves a cad's "luck" tremendously.

Happy Bastille Day! Frog's legs, snails and wine for dinner.

(according to my mother, her grandfather [great-grandfather?] was royalist and wore a black armband on the 14th.)

Like, why do jerks always get the girls, and nice guys never get laid?

Never? Does that mean anyone who does is by definition not a nice guy?

This is pretty funny. I'm on the fence as to which version of the film has worse dialogue.

Gromit: that's wonderful. 'Troopseses' indeed ;)

I was made by the Presbyterian Church.

Thanks, that was the best thing I've seen in weeks. Which, come to think of it, probably explains my grumpiness of late.

Oh, this site has just about the best...what's that called? Just go and read it already.

That link comes by way of an old college friend of mine who has an impeccable sense of humor, and whom I don't talk to nearly enough.

Every time I think the GOP in Washington has lost their capcity to surprise me, they come through in the clutch. From Josh Marshall:

"I haven't been able to get a copy of the exact text yet. But the Republican counter-amendment on the floor is truly amazing. It would strip of his or her security access any senator who repeated a statement by an FBI agent which was subsequently used as "propaganda" by America's enemies. In other words, the law is targeted at Sen. Durbin, making it against the law to say what he said a month ago.

De-democratization ...

(ed.note: If anyone can send me a copy of the text, I'd appreciate it.)

Late Update: Here is the text of the so-called 'Frist Amendment': "Any federal officeholder who makes reference to a classified Federal Bureau of Investigation report on the floor of the United States Senate, or any federal officeholder that makes a statement based on a FBI agent's comments which is used as propaganda by terrorist organizations thereby putting our servicemen and women at risk, shall not be permitted access to such information or to hold a security clearance for access to such information."

This is just incredible:

1. The supposedly classified FBI documents that Senator Durbin read from have been available on the ACLU website since December 15, 2004, after a federal judge ordered them released under the Freedom of Information Act.

As for statements or information that can be used in terrorist propaganda--not there is any proof whatsoever that Durbin's was--I guess we have to revoke President Bush's security clearance, since Bin Laden has referred to them in his propaganda.

2. I assume the first amendment issues are obvious given that there is no classified information involved. But this amendment has a whole separate way of violating the Constitution. Article 1, Section 6:

"The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, beprivileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house, they shall not be questioned in any other place."

This is on one level just such a cheap, transparent stunt, you almost have to laugh.

On another level, it shows just such utter indifference to the facts, and utter contempt for the Constitution....I hope there is a line they can cross that will cause their supporters to take this seriously. I don't know where that line is.

Here's the roll call on that amendment by the way. Here's the roll call on Reid's amendment "To prohibit Federal employees who disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information from holding a security clearance." All 33 Senators who voted for the Frist amendment voted against the Reid amendment. Naturally.

Wow, one third of the Senate (and 60 percent of the Republicans) voted in favor of such childishness.

Maybe I'm in glass half full mode, but I'm a little encouraged that at least some Republicans voted against such a blindingly stupid amendment.

Maybe I'm in glass half full mode, but I'm a little encouraged that at least some Republicans voted against such a blindingly stupid amendment.
Even separating wingnuts like Santorum and Bunning, as well as Coryn (a proposed "moderate" option of the Supreme Court), you have Specter, Dole, Domenici voting for this garbage , making this into a 'geez, at least the bottom of the glass was moist' kind of moment.

(just to be clear, this should be considered snark with rather than snark at Gromit.)

Did you see that in the Post's recent editorial on Rove they seem unaware of their own correction? Amazing.

Domenici voted for the amendment? Ye gods, and to think I used to respect the man...

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