Impugning Joseph Wilson’s Crediblity

The following passage from Susan Schmidt’s July 10, 2004 article in the Washington Post are being used by many of Bush’s defenders to suggest Joseph Wilson lied:

Wilson’s assertions – both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information – were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report. The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.

Odd that Ms. Schmidt omitted the context of Wilson’s remarks best summarized by the June 8, 2003 statement from Condoleezza Rice:

We did not know at the time – no one knew at the time in our circles – maybe someone knew down in the bowels in the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery

In other words, the infamous 16 words had been called into question even before Mr. Wilson weighed in on this fray.

Josh Marshall has already effectively taken Ms. Schmidt to task for her assertion that the CIA never questioned the reliability of the African intelligence. As one reads the various attempts to smear Mr. Wilson from Andrew Sullivan, Jonah Goldberg, and in particular Cliff May (who apparently still believes those 16 words were true), it might be helpful to read what Mr. Wilson actually said.

So as I read Mr. Wilson’s account, he never said he alone debunked the Iraq-Niger story. He was putting forth his own findings, which did show that Dr. Rice’s 6/8/2003 statement was false. As far as who recommended Mr. Wilson to the Vice President’s office, this was not material to Mr. Wilson’s account, but I guess it is part of the excuse-mongering for this Robert Novak piece.

So why is it that Mr. Goldberg, Mr. May, and Mr. Sullivan are so willing to sacrifice their own credibility (assuming Goldberg and May ever had any crediblity) in their desparate attempt to smear Mr. Wilson? I guess now that their case for invading Iraq has been tarnished by the Senate Intel report – it is critical for Bush defenders to claim Bush was not responsible for the misleading Intel in anyway.