Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Senate Report: How Niger Uranium Story Defied Wide Skepticism -- Registration required.

In this case, it looks like the CIA is to blame for not following up on information given to it. Instead of going and corroborating intelligence information, they guessed that documents dealing with the sale of uranium to Iraq were probably fake. The sad part is that it's now too late to try to find out what happened. Instead of sending out field agents to investigate the situation, the CIA sent a former ambassador and a defense attache. Doing that is much like sending a music teacher to teach calculus. Sure, the teacher might have some idea on how to teach a class full of students, but will be at a loss to dig deeper into the subject. Joe Wilson and the unnamed attache may have had some idea on how to interview people, but they couldn't dig deeper into the situation. Even more alarming is that the CIA waited a month to send anyone in to investigate reports that uranium was ready to be shipped. For a group that acts like it's always on the ball, they sure dropped it this time.

The worst part of it is Joe Wilson. He squandered his investigation time by staying in a hotel and interviewing people beside a swimming pool. Then to make things worse, he lied about his wife's involvement in getting him the job:
Instead of assigning a trained intelligence officer to the Niger case, though, the C.I.A. sent a former American ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to talk to former Niger officials. His wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer in the counterproliferation division, and she had suggested that he be sent to Niger, according to the Senate report.

That finding contradicts previous statements by Mr. Wilson, who publicly criticized the Bush administration last year for using the Niger evidence to help justify the war in Iraq. After his wife's identity as a C.I.A. officer was leaked to the news media, Mr. Wilson said she had not played a role in his assignment, and argued that her C.I.A. employment had been disclosed to punish him. The F.B.I. is investigating the source of the leak about Ms. Plame, which was classified information.
Wilson lied, his story died.

Then to make things even worse, the CIA decided to give over documents about the potential uranium sale to the International Atomic Energy Agency (yes, the same group that is doing so well in determining whether or not Iran has nuclear weapons yet) for verification. Oddly enough, CIA analysts accepted the IAEA's judgment at face value according to this story. "Trust, but verify" is apparently as dead as the man who first uttered those words.

So, what have we got here? We have a lack of proper agents going out and doing intelligence-gathering. We have a group of people who want to see President Bush eat those sixteen words of his 2003 State of the Union Address, words which have been turning more and more believeable. Even if Iraq didn't get any uranium ore, trying to purchase it during UN sanctions is bad enough. The case for war is strengthened again.

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