Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ummmm...This Seems Important

On Hardball last night, an interesting statement was made by David Schuster, a correspondent for MSNBC. He said,

Ok, so let me see if I understand this whole story.

1) A forged document claiming that Iraq was seeking to buy yellowcake uranium ore from Niger was passed along to American intelligence. The forgery was so bad that it took the International Atomic Energy Agency, using Google, a mere half hour to determine it was not authentic.

2) The claim in the document was doubted by intelligence officers, but fit in well with the story that Iraq was an imminent/gathering/potential threat to the US and this warranted the invasion which was not popular at the time.

3) The Vice President asked the CIA to look into this claim.

4) The CIA sent Joe Wilson to Niger to check it out.

5) Wilson wrote a report for the CIA contending that there is no credible evidence that the claim is true.

6) The President's speech writers felt that it was a rhetorically powerful claim regardless of its truth or falsity and included it in the draft of the President's State of the Union speech. When members of the intelligence community vetting the speech objected to the claim, speech writers reworked the sentence so that instead of actually making the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium for nuclear weapons which is not true, Bush will say that British intelligence has said that "Iraq is trying to buy uranium for nuclear weapons." This report will be true, since the British wrote a report just repeating what we told them based on the forged document. But by saying it in this way, the President, in his only Constitutionally mandated report, will be able to say something that that is most likely false but will convince people that invading Iraq is necessary while not saying something he knows is false. He can lie without lying.

7) Ambassador Wilson, angry at the inclusion in the State of the Union speech of the Niger claim after his report on it, writes an editorial in the New York Times saying the claim was unsupported by intelligence.

8) Iraq is invaded. Things do not go according to plan. No weapons of mass destruction or advanced programs for developing nuclear weapons are found. Intelligence failures, like those connected with the attacks on 9/11, are cited. The intelligence community is faulted.

9) In a week when the White House also smeared ABC reporter Jeffrey Kofman by disclosing to Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report that Kofman was not only gay, but Canadian, because he reported an Iraq story the Bush administration didn't like, someone in the White House leaked the name of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, to the press. When Robert Novak printed her name, Ms. Plame, who was a covert CIA agent, had her career ruined. These two actions were clearly understood in the press to mean that if someone displeased the administration with their reporting, severe retribution is likely.

10) The President, when confronted about the leak said that he would find the leaker. The administration's defenders argued that since Ms. Plame was on desk service working out of CIA headquarters at Langley, she couldn't have been undercover or of very high intelligence value. Thus her outing her would have caused no harm to US intelligence operations.

11) The President never did find the leaker, but the Vice President's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, is currently under indictment for acts pertaining to the leak and its cover-up.

12) In his defense, Libby reveals that President Bush, himself, authorized the leak of classified information. The argument is made that it is impossible for the President to break the law in leaking classified information because as commander in chief, he has the power to classify and declassify information. And even though this information did not go through the proper declassification procedures and was not made public in the standard fashion, the claim of Presidential infallibility on this point deflects any possible wrong doing.

13) Iran announces it has nuclear weapons. Sabers on both sides are rattled. The US tests a new weapon designed to show Iran that we can destroy bunkers deep underground, like those used by Iran to develop their nuclear program.

14) It turns out that Ms. Plame was part of a group that was part of a group that was working on intelligence related to the Iranian nuclear program and that by outing her, our intelligence capabilities had been damaged by the non-leak leak.

So, does this mean that the President himself knowingly damaged US intelligence capabilities in a case that will possibly result in an air assault on Iran or a change in the power balance of an already unstable and geo-politically crucial region of the world? Am I off the mark here or did the President intentionally hamper our ability to monitor whether one of the axis of evil nations was acquiring one of the most deadly forms of armament, a fact that might be operative in taking us into another war? Isn't it bad thing that the leader of Iran, who said that Israel should be wiped off the map, now may have the power to do so and by harming our intelligence apparatus, didn't the President harm our ability to act earlier and possibly halt the program? Maybe it's just me, but this seems kind of important. Sure, not blowjob in the Oval Office important, but perhaps worthy of a bit more attention.