Wednesday, January 18, 2006
I'm surprised there's any horse left: Today's New York Times revisits the 2003 State of the Union address again and reveals nothing new.
Before I quote the Times story, let me pose a hypothetical. Let's say that I want to get a date with actress Jessica Alba. Let's say that I go ahead and call her agent and try to arrange the date, or that I attempt to get terminal cancer, lie about my age and contact the Make-A-Wish Foundation to arrange the date.
Now, the date never happens, because she's very busy and I'm not nearly good-looking enough. But I did try.
Back to the Times:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.
Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department's intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send "25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers" filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.
The analysts' doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The Times is dishonestly conflating the two issues. There is no dispute -- not even from James Wilson, liar -- that Saddam Hussein tried to get uranium from Africa. That's what President Bush said in the 2003 address. The Times tries to suggest that because we knew Hussein didn't actually get the uranium, that mentioning that he tried is dishonest.
And that's just the beginning, the Times continues to ignore evidence contrary to their thesis and conflate the two issues.
The White House later acknowledged that the charge, which played a part in the decision to invade Iraq in the belief that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear program, relied on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech. Two months ago, Italian intelligence officials concluded that a set of documents at the center of the supposed Iraq-Niger link had been forged by an occasional Italian spy.
The forged documents were unrelated to the evidence we had that Hussein tried to get yellowcake uranium from Iraq. The Times piece also completely ignores the Duelfer report which showed that Hussein did intend to reconstitute banned weapons programs as soon as the sanctions regime was ended.
It's often said that journalism is the first draft of history, but the Times is attempting to make sure that its draft is the definitive draft -- even when it is dishonest and wrong.