Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Iraq Pre-War Intelligence Report Vs. Joe Wilson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 9. 2004


Conclusion: The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador’s wife, a CIA employee.

The former ambassador’s wife suggested her husband for the trip to Niger in February 2002. The former ambassador had traveled previously to Niger on behalf of the CIA, also at the suggestion of his wife, to look into another matter not related to Iraq. On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” This was just one day before the same Directorate of Operations division sent a cable to one of its overseas stations requesting concurrence with the division’s idea to send the former ambassador to Niger.

Conclusion: Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided.

At the time the former ambassador traveled to Niger, the Intelligence Community did not have in its possession any actual documents on the alleged Niger-Iraq uranium deal, only second hand reporting of the deal. The former ambassador’s comments to reporters that the Niger-Iraq uranium documents “may have been forged because ‘the dates were wrong and the names were wrong,’” could not have been based on the former ambassador’s actual experiences because the Intelligence Community did not have the documents at the time of the ambassador’s trip. In addition, nothing in the report from the former ambassador’s trip said anything about documents having been forged or the names or dates in the reports having been incorrect. The former ambassador told Committee staff that he, in fact, did not have access to any of the names and dates in the CIA’s reports and said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct. Of note, the names and dates in the documents that the IAEA found to be incorrect were not names or dates included in the CIA reports.

Following the Vice President’s review of an intelligence report regarding a possible uranium deal, he asked his briefer for the CIA’s analysis of the issue. It was this request which generated Mr. Wilson’s trip to Niger. The former ambassador’s public comments suggesting that the Vice President had been briefed on the information gathered during his trip is not correct, however. While the CIA responded to the Vice President’s request for the Agency’s analysis, they never provided the information gathered by the former Ambassador. The former ambassador, in an NBC Meet the Press interview on July 6, 2003, said, “The office of the Vice President, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip out there.” The former ambassador was speaking on the basis of what he believed should have happened based on his former government experience, but he had no knowledge that this did happen.

These and other public comments from the former ambassador, such as comments that his report “debunked” the Niger-Iraq uranium story, were incorrect and have led to a distortion in the press and in the public’s understanding of the facts surrounding the Niger-Iraq uranium story. The Committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador’s report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger-Iraq uranium deal.

During Mr. Wilson’s media blitz, he appeared on more than thirty television shows including entertainment venues. Time and again, Joe Wilson told anyone who would listen that the President had lied to the American people, that the Vice President had lied, and that he had “debunked” the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. As discussed in the Niger section of the report, not only did he NOT “debunk” the claim, he actually gave some intelligence analysts even more reason to believe that it may be true. I believed very strongly that it was important for the Committee to conclude publicly that many of the statements made by Ambassador Wilson were not only incorrect, but had no basis in fact.

In an interview with Committee staff, Mr. Wilson was asked how he knew some of the things he was stating publicly with such confidence. On at least two occasions he admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all. For example, when asked how he “knew” that the Intelligence Community had rejected the possibility of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told Committee staff that his assertion may have involved “a little literary flair.”

The former Ambassador, either by design or through ignorance, gave the American people and, for that matter, the world a version of events that was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and misleading. Surely, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has unique access to all of the facts, should have been able to agree on a conclusion that would correct the public record. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so.



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There's a reason for me posting this. After the House posts yesterdays record this will be worked in with what a Dem form NY was saying.

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Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq