Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, July 14, 2005
Wrong on Wilson
John Fund just couldn't be more wrong. He just did a fine job parroting the GOP talking points on MSNBC's "Connected" -- but too bad his nemesis on the show, Jonathan Alter, hadn't read his Bloomberg today. If he had, he would have been armed with the following "rebuttal" points:

  • The main points of Wilson's article have largely been substantiated by a Senate committee as well as U.S. and United Nations weapons inspectors. A day after Wilson's piece was published, the White House acknowledged that a claim Bush made in his January 2003 state of the union address that Iraq tried to buy ``significant quantities of uranium from Africa'' could not be verified and shouldn't have been included in the speech.

  • Republicans are attempting to defend Rove by discrediting Wilson, saying the former ambassador misled the public about why he was sent to Niger and what he found there. ... [But] Wilson never said that Cheney sent him, only that the vice president's office had questions about an intelligence report that referred to the sale of uranium yellowcake to Iraq from Niger. Wilson, in his New York Times article, said CIA officials were informed of Cheney's questions. "The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office,'' Wilson wrote.

  • The ``Wilson/Rove Research & Talking Points'' memo distributed by RNC Director of Television Carolyn Weyforth contends, ``Both the Senate Committee on Intelligence and the CIA found assessments Wilson made in his report were wrong.'' Yet the Senate panel conclusions didn't discredit Wilson. The committee concluded that the Niger intelligence information wasn't solid enough to be included in the State of the Union speech. It added that Wilson's report didn't change the minds of analysts on either side of the issue, while also concluding that an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate ``overstated what the Intelligence Community knew about Iraq's possible procurement attempts.''

  • Wilson is vulnerable to some criticisms. The Republican talking points say Wilson has lied about the role his wife played in his trip. In his memoir, ``The Politics of Truth,'' Wilson asserted his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger. ``Valerie had nothing to do with the matter,'' he wrote. ``She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip.'' The Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a CIA official told the panel that Plame ``offered up'' Wilson's name for the Niger trip and later sent a memo to a CIA official saying her husband had good relations with leaders in Niger. [But no information that she "sent him" or "authorized the trip, as the GOP TPM says...]

  • Finally, in July 2003, after Wilson's piece was published, the White House conceded that the uranium assertion should not have been included in the president's speech. Several administration officials have accepted responsibility for allowing it into the speech, including Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser and now secretary of state; Stephen Hadley, then Rice's deputy and now the national security adviser; and then-CIA Director George Tenet.

Wilson is right, John Fund and his friends in the GOP (apparently Fund is on the same mailing list as the Fox anchor crew...) are wrong. Bush should get on with it and fire Karl Rove.

Update: MarkInMexico couldn't be more wrong, either, but his daily breakdown of the percentages in the daily press beating Scott McClellan are both entertaining and informative. Yesterday's percentages:

The issues that the MSM should be asking about:

1. Terrorism/GWoT
2. Our troops in Iraq
3. Supreme Court justices
4. G8 / African hunger/debt
6. Social Security
7. Oil prices
8. Nuclear proliferation in Iran and Korea
9. A bloated, corrupt, inefficient United Nations
10. Economy

... The issues in which the MSM actually has great interest in the order in
which the questions are asked. ...

Karl Rove: 35 questions - 59%
Iran and Korea: 5 questions - 8%
Terrorism/GWoT: 9 questions - 15%
Supreme Court justices: 2 questions - 3%
Social Security: 2 questions - 3%
Economy: 2 questions - 3%
China: 2 questions - 3%
Space: 2 questions - 3%
Our troops in Iraq: 0 questions - 0%
G8 / African hunger/debt: 0 questions - 0%
HIV/AIDS: 0 questions - 0%
Oil prices: 0 questions - 0%
A bloated, corrupt, inefficient United Nations: 0 questions - 0%

Good points on the media's failure to tackle the myriad important issues of the day, but I have to disagree that the outing of Valerie Plame isn't a top drawer issue, since it goes directly to the credibility of the president, his staff's penchant for political blood sport at the expense of national security, and possible obstruction of justice by a -- if not the -- key Bush aide. In other words, real "cancer on the presidency" issues as opposed to Oval Office hand-and-mouth-jobs...

Update: The Left Coaster takes the GOP talking points apart, brick by brick.
posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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