demosthenes

"Beware lest in your anxiety to avoid war you obtain a master." -Demosthenes

Demosthenes (384-322 BC) was a Greek orater who made eloquent appeals for his countrymen to unite and preserve their freedom.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why Isn't Joe Wilson Being Prosecuted For Lying To Congress?


"To the media, it doesn't matter that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says Wilson lied about what he did and with whom he met while investigating Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" uranium." - Zell Miller ...Why hasn't Joe Wilson been prosecuted for lying to Congress?



Per Max Boot in the L.A. Times:

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...the one undisputed liar in this whole sordid affair doesn't work for the administration. In his attempts to turn his wife into an antiwar martyr, Joseph C. Wilson IV has retailed more whoppers than Burger King.

The least consequential of these fibs was his denial that it was his wife who got him sent to Niger in February 2002 to check out claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence later stated, in a bipartisan report, that evidence indicated it was Mrs. Wilson who "had suggested his name for the trip." By leaking this fact to the news media, Libby and other White House officials were merely setting the record straight — not, as Wilson would have it, punishing his Mata Hari wife.

Much more egregious were the ways in which Wilson misrepresented his findings. In his famous New York Times Op-Ed article (July 6, 2003), Wilson gave the impression that his eight-day jaunt proved that Iraq was not trying to acquire uranium in Africa. Therefore, when administration officials nevertheless cited concerns about Hussein's nuclear ambitions, Wilson claimed that they had "twisted" evidence "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." The Senate Intelligence Committee was not kind to this claim either.

The [Sentate] panel's report found that, far from discrediting the Iraq-Niger uranium link, Wilson actually provided fresh details about a 1999 meeting between Niger's prime minister and an Iraqi delegation. Beyond that, he had not supplied new information. According to the panel, intelligence analysts "did not think" that his findings "clarified the story on the reported Iraq-Niger uranium deal." In other words, Wilson had hardly exposed as fraudulent the "16 words" included in the 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, the British government, in its own post-invasion review of intelligence, found that this claim was "well founded."

This is not an isolated example. Pretty much all of the claims that the administration doctored evidence about Iraq have been euthanized, not only by the Senate committee but also by the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission. The latest proof that intelligence was not "politicized" comes from an unlikely source — Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, who has been denouncing the hawkish "cabal" supposedly leading us toward "disaster." Yet, in between bouts of trashing the administration, Wilkerson said on Oct. 19 that "the consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming" that Hussein was building illicit weapons. This view was endorsed by "the French, the Germans, the Brits." The French, of all people, even offered "proof positive" that Hussein was buying aluminum tubes "for centrifuges." Wilkerson also recalled seeing satellite photos "that would lead me to believe that Saddam Hussein, at least on occasion, was … giving us disinformation."

So much for the lies that led to war. What we're left with is the lies that led to the antiwar movement. Good thing for Wilson and his pals that deceiving the press and the public isn't a crime.

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But lying to Congress IS a crime. Why isn't Joe Wilson being prosecuted? And why is the mainstream press ignoring this story?


Joe Wilson: gadfly, self-admitted leftist 1960's hippie, darling of the liberal mainstream media, and serial liar



UPDATE 11-3-05: More at Captain's Quarters, Just One Minute, and from Zell Miller in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:


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It's like a spy thriller. Institutional rivalries and political loyalties have fostered an intelligence officer's resentment against the government. Suddenly, an opportunity appears for the agent to undercut the national leadership. A vital question of intelligence forms the core justification for controversial military actions by the current leaders. If this agent can get in the middle of that question, distort that information and make it public, the agent might foster regime change in the upcoming election.

But the rules on agents are clear. They can't purposely distort gathered intelligence, go public with secret information or use their position or information to manipulate domestic elections or matters without risking their job or jail.

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But their spouse can!

The agent realizes her spouse can go out on behalf of the spy agency, can distort information, go public with classified information and use all this spy-agency-sponsored material and credentials to try to pull down the current government, and it is all perfectly legal.


Suppose the spouse adds just one more brilliant, well-aimed lie: claim your foremost political opponent put the spouse up to the trip. As your spouse uses your agency's name to mount attacks, your enemy may fall into your trap. Will your enemy suffer your spouse's lies or take the bait and try to clarify his non-role? If he tells the press he didn't hire your spouse, the press will demand to know, "Then who did?"

Instead of you violating secrecy laws, it is your victim who is guilty because he tried to set the record straight. Heads, you win; tails, he loses.

* * *

No one seems to care that our intelligence agency has crippled our president. Certainly not the media. They are determined to make Wilson a hero. Recall the dozens of times the Washington Post and The New York Times carried his lies on the front page, above the fold. The conclusive story discrediting Wilson was buried 6 feet deep, back by the obituaries.

To the media, it doesn't matter that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence says Wilson lied about what he did and with whom he met while investigating Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" uranium.

To the media, it doesn't matter that the CIA says what Wilson did actually find supported that Iraq was attempting to buy the uranium — a direct contradiction to Wilson's public claims.

To the media, it doesn't matter that he claimed the vice president assigned him to the uranium investigation when we all know now it was his wife.

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We need a Plame rule. Any family member of a CIA agent tapped to help out must live by the same rules regarding information disclosure and domestic political manipulations as those imposed on the agent. If the family member fails to live by those rules, the agent is terminated.

Clearly this will restrict the flexibility of the CIA. But who ever thought that the flexibility given to CIA agents would be misused to destabilize a U.S. president? No one — until Valerie Plame.

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UPDATE 11-6-05: More on Langley's attempted coup d'etat from Victoria Toensing at OpinionJournal.com:

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...the CIA, either purposely or with gross negligence, made a series of decisions that led to Ms. Plame becoming a household name:

• The CIA sent her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger on a sensitive mission regarding WMD. He was to determine whether Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake, an essential ingredient for unconventional weapons. However, it was Ms. Plame, not Mr. Wilson, who was the WMD expert. Moreover, Mr. Wilson had no intelligence background, was never a senior person in Niger when he was in the State Department, and was opposed to the administration's Iraq policy. The assignment was given, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, at Ms. Plame's suggestion.

• Mr. Wilson was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement, a mandatory act for the rest of us who either carry out any similar CIA assignment or represent CIA clients.

• When he returned from Niger, Mr. Wilson was not required to write a report, but rather merely to provide an oral briefing. That information was not sent to the White House. If this mission to Niger were so important, wouldn't a competent intelligence agency want a thoughtful written assessment from the "missionary," if for no other reason than to establish a record to refute any subsequent misrepresentation of that assessment? Because it was the vice president who initially inquired about Niger and the yellowcake (although he had nothing to do with Mr. Wilson being sent), it is curious that neither his office nor the president's were privy to the fruits of Mr. Wilson's oral report.

• Although Mr. Wilson did not have to write even one word for the agency that sent him on the mission at taxpayer's expense, over a year later he was permitted to tell all about this sensitive assignment in the New York Times. For the rest of us, writing about such an assignment would mean we'd have to bring our proposed op-ed before the CIA's Prepublication Review Board and spend countless hours arguing over every word to be published. Congressional oversight committees should want to know who at the CIA permitted the publication of the article, which, it has been reported, did not jibe with the thrust of Mr. Wilson's oral briefing. For starters, if the piece had been properly vetted at the CIA, someone should have known that the agency never briefed the vice president on the trip, as claimed by Mr. Wilson in his op-ed.

• More important than the inaccuracies is that, if the CIA truly, truly, truly had wanted Ms. Plame's identity to be secret, it never would have permitted her spouse to write the op-ed. Did no one at Langley think that her identity could be compromised if her spouse wrote a piece discussing a foreign mission about a volatile political issue that focused on her expertise? The obvious question a sophisticated journalist such as Mr. Novak asked after "Why did the CIA send Wilson?" was "Who is Wilson?" After being told by a still-unnamed administration source that Mr. Wilson's "wife" suggested him for the assignment, Mr. Novak went to Who's Who, which reveals "Valerie Plame" as Mr. Wilson's spouse.

• CIA incompetence did not end there. When Mr. Novak called the agency to verify Ms. Plame's employment, it not only did so, but failed to go beyond the perfunctory request not to publish. Every experienced Washington journalist knows that when the CIA really does not want something public, there are serious requests from the top, usually the director. Only the press office talked to Mr. Novak.

• Although high-ranking Justice Department officials are prohibited from political activity, the CIA had no problem permitting its deep cover or classified employee from making political contributions under the name "Wilson, Valerie E.," information publicly available at the Federal Elections Commission.

The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft. It is up to Congress to decide which.

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The Victoria Toensing link was via Instapundit.

1 Comments:

  • At 11:15 PM, Blogger Ed Darrell said…

    Lying to Congress is a crime only if the testimony is under oath, and even then such stuff is rarely prosecuted.

    Heck, if lying to Congress were a crime, Rumsfeld and Cheney would still be in jail from the Reagan administration.

     

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