It All Comes Back to the WMD Lie

[This piece also appears today at The Unpaid Punditry Corps.]

Matthew Cooper’s latest Time Magazine piece, “What I Told the Grand Jury” does little to clear up the muddy picture of just how the undercover CIA identity of Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was leaked to the press but it certainly says volumes about this Administration. Whether or not Karl Rove was the source of the leak is irrelevant in my point because the facts in this case paint a picture of an administration that is willing to endanger the life of one of it’s covert agents, and consequently the lives of several of her sources, for the sole purpose of advancing their political agenda.

With all of the spinning going on it may be difficult for some to keep focused on exactly what is going on here so let me recap exactly what we know. The whole thing started when, in an attempt to bolster support for the inevitable invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush uttered the following words in his January 28, 2003 state of the union address, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” In the months leading up to that statement Ambassador Joseph Wilson had been sent on a fact finding mission to Africa with the express purpose of proving or disproving the British intelligence that was at the source of that statement. What Wilson found, and subsequently reported to the administration, was that there was no evidence this intelligence was true. As a matter of fact it was later revealed that the document used to support this claim was a forgery.

After those 16 words were uttered in the state of the union address Joseph Wilson did what any of us would have done in the same situation, tried to ensure that his hard work did not get ignored. As a result of Condoleezza Rice’s claims that no one in the administration has prior knowledge of this document being a forgery, Wilson penned a New York Times piece entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” The fallout from this piece was that several pundits, including Republican Pat Buchanan, concluded that the forged Niger document was actually used to deceive the American public into going to war with Iraq.

“The truth now, we know, is that a forgery was put together to get this country into a war with Iraq, that forgery found its way into our intelligence agencies, it found its way into the State of the Union, and the president of the United States should show more indignation and outrage that this was done.”

“Somebody in our own government knew very well that was a forgery, and they advanced it on up the line.”

This apparently pissed off “W” and caused him or someone in his administration to authorize a deliberate smear campaign against Wilson, at the center of which was the outing of his covert CIA wife’s identity. We now know that Karl Rove said that Wilson’s wife was “fair game” and whether he was the one who leaked her identity or not he certainly understood and likely approved of the result. Consequently Matthew Cooper and Robert Novak, acting on tips from administration sources, wrote articles revealing Plame’s identity. In addition, Judith Miller of the New York Times also received the leak but did not write an article but in an ironic twist of fate Miller is sitting in a jail cell today for not revealing the source of the leak to her.

So all of this leads us to one conclusion, the administration in an attempt to gain retribution against Wilson for pointing out that they were deliberately lying to take the U.S. into war with Iraq, was willing to commit treason against an American patriot serving her country in one of the most dangerous and arguably important roles of government. Nothing I have read, no statements by Ken Mehlman, Scott McClellan or any other GOP hack has disputed these facts. Regardless of the outcome, we can say one thing about this administration, their credibility – if you assume they ever had any – is gone.

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