Wednesday, November 02, 2005

TREASONGATE: Let's All Take A Deep Breath And Reexamine The Facts

Yesterday I published an explosive article (see below) about David Corn misquoting Fitzgerald. The reader comments here as CS, Democratic Underground, Rigorous Intuition and various other forums were polarized to the extreme. I respect that, and I respect that people are angry at me for attacking Wilson and Corn's credibility. Others who are receptive to my point of view praised and defended my reporting.

I do not want CS to be a blog that divides people. That is why the comments are totally uncensored and open. Even the comments which are filled with profanity, vitriol and spin are welcome. Thank you all for posting here and elsewhere. The comments are the best part of the blogosphere.

I'm not a professional reporter. Until publishing this blog I had no experience as a journalist or political commentator. I don't want to be a paid reporter. I am a reader of blogs and a news junkie who has experience as a lawyer and an investigator. That's as far as I want to go. I don't want to be known. I don't want to be a talking head. I just want to get to the truth.

As for my credibility, like Fitzgerald, blogs on the left are calling me a faux partisan hack because I credited Clifford May and The National Review for publishing the theory that David Corn outed Plame's status as a NOC and also because I have labeled Wilson and Corn as co-conspirators with the White House. While right-wing blogs have attacked me for being a left wing hack because I have called for the neocons to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for actions (Plame and Brewster outings) they consider not to be criminal, but simply political.

I will grant both sides their frustration and have empathy for the confusion that has beset America. I am not insulted by any of the tags that have been put on me because I understand the pain this country is going through via the intended polarization of the American people. So let me try to unify the troops by taking a deep breathe and answering all of the questions which have arisen over the last 24 hours.

I will do this by interviewing myself using questions that have come up from readers. And I will publish this now with the understanding that the interview will continue in the comments section of this blog as readers digest this article and compose further questions for my review. I will answer every question the readers have. I simply ask that you have patience for the answers to your questions. Trying to stay on top of all the leads coming my way is very time consuming. There are people trying to do patriotic things while others are trying to thwart them. Both end up in my mailbox and it's not easy separating the real from the unreal.

It's not easy for any of you either. I've made mistakes and I've tried to be honest about those mistakes, tried to make up for them and this is what the current article you are reading is all about.

QUESTION: Why should anybody trust CS?

ANSWER: You shouldn't. You shouldn't trust me. You don't know me. You don't know if I have an agenda. You don't know anything about my motives other than what I've written and what I've written hasn't been 100% correct. So you shouldn't trust me. You shouldn't give me a pass when I screw up. You should hold me over the fire and fry me until you see me respond to your questions.

At the same time, you should also give credit when somebody proves a fact to you. I was attacked by the moderators at Democratic Underground for citing the Espionage Act as the most valid law pertaining to the Plame affair. DU locked that thread and told its readership that they would open it when I backed up my theory with proper sources. I told DU my source was the law and quoted the law and analyzed the law, but DU kept the thread locked.

As it turns out, Fitzgerald focused on the Espionage Act in his press conference and Libby's indictment. DU has never reopened the thread or apologized for casting aspersions on my reporting. My reporting on the Espionage Act was not the first in the blogosphere, but it was by far the most detailed and legally sound explanation of the law the blogosphere has seen on this topic.

I took issue with those in the media who had erroneously directed the people's attention to the IIPA as the exclusive law controlling the Plame outing.

David Corn was the first person in the media to raise the issue of the IIPA and Joe Wilson followed him as the foremost cheerleader of that law. You can defend them all you like, but shouldn't they be held up to scrutiny for getting it wrong?

Corn is supposed to be this ace reporter, but for two years he never mentioned the law which has now come to forefront of this investigation, the Espionage Act. For two years Wilson and Corn discussed the IIPA exclusively and in doing so the stage was set for many talking heads to debate the intricacies of the IIPA while the true master of this fact pattern -- the Espionage Act -- was ignored.

If you want to give them both a pass, that's your prerogative. But what about the non-disclosure agreement violations? Those also mention 18 USC 793 and 794 as well as the IIPA and other laws. Written reports by Wilson and transcripts of interviews with do not mention even the possibility that the Espionage Act was in play. The same goes for Corn.

Wilson stated in his book -- "The Politics of Truth" -- that on July 16, 2003, David Corn published an analysis of the IIPA so that Americans would have some knowledge concerning "all of the legalities" involved. That was wrong. Fitzgerald has spoken and he's locked onto the Espionage Act. Wilson and Corn got it wrong. That's a fact.

What does that fact mean? The answer to the question -- at this point in time -- is conjecture. But it's a question neither has answered in public.

So you shouldn't trust them anymore than you should trust me. Trust nobody. Start out with the assumption that whatever you read is conjecture (or worse -- spin) and go from there with your analysis of the subject matter.

Trust the facts not the spin.

For example, before Fitzgerald issued the indictment and gave the press conference, it was not a fact that the Espionage Act would be used, but since Fitz struck, it is now a fact that the Espionage Act is totally in play. That is now a fact and you can trust it.
And if you want to be schooled, you really need to read
18 USC 793 and 794 with all the sub-parts. You will find that there are sections of those statutes which make it illegal for reporters to publish certain information. Have a look at 793(e) and 794(c) for guidance on whether reporters can be prosecuted under these laws. Novak, Corn and Pincus have issues with these laws.

I was analyzing the Espionage Act when most blogs were exclusively debating the IIPA. You should consider that and cut me some slack. But don't believe anything just because I report it. You have the ability to fact check things for yourself. Don't be lazy. Do the work. Corn and Wilson got the law wrong. CS did not.

CS was also the first blog to thoroughly explain the delegation letters by Comey to Fitz as well as the GAO report which found that Fitz had all of the power of an Independent Counsel even though he is not an Independent Counsel. This happened when it looked like Comey's replacement might be looking at ways to fire Fitz. That GAO report is very interesting. So cut me some slack on that one as well. And if you want to read a true history of your power as federal grand jurors, I suggest you read my
report on the history of that power. I'm not exactly shooting blanks over here.

QUESTION: What's The Biggest Mistake You've Made CS?

ANSWER: The biggest mistake I've made is drawing conclusions about Corn and Wilson without properly backing up those conclusions with supporting evidence strong enough to convict them of my accusations. I am guilty as charged. The last 24 hours have made me realize that my original
headline and attack on Corn and Wilson, while supported by the facts to some degree, have been more driven by instinct and gut feelings.

That is no way for a journalist to behave.

The first post in this blog was July 28, 2005, my first piece of journalism ever. The attention I've received since then has blown my mind. My very first report was listed as a source at
Wikipedia. Instead of taking a deep breath and trying to follow my gut to information which would thoroughly confirm that my suspicions about Corn and Wilson were true, I jumped online and published my accusations as if I "knew" those accusations were correct.

I "knew" no such thing. I believe I'm right about these two, but I can honestly say I don't have the evidence to "convict" them in the court of public opinion. And this is why the country is lucky to have someone like Fitz at the helm. He probably has a lot of gut feelings going on about a lot of people involved in this investigation, but he's proven to everyone that he will only prosecute what he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are many facts that support my gut feelings. And we will discuss those facts. All I ask is that you recognize a fact when you see it. Be realistic, especially at a time when so many unrealistic things are happening. If I prove a fact to you, and that fact is damning to somebody you respect, you need then to start asking questions. Theories can be spun as conjecture and partisan lies, but facts are much harder to spin.

When a fact has been proven to you, and that fact is damaging to somebody you have believed in, you must be careful not to give an automatic pass to those responsible.

Trust not so easily. Ask questions. Demand answers. In this way we can end the partisan division and get to the truth.

We often allow our sense of doubt to be corrupted by those we "want" to be right. We've been duped so many times. When the facts don't add up, get out your calculator and start crunching numbers.

I retract my accusations that Corn and Wilson are in cahoots with the White House. I cannot prove that. I believe it to be true. There are facts which support it, but I don't have enough evidence to convict them. I apologize. This was a clear rookie mistake. My last column on Corn phrased the issue as a question just for this reason. But my original accusation was presented as a true conclusion and that was an amateur blunder.

QUESTION: Why did you rely on an obvious right wing propaganda rag like The National Review when you cited Clifford May as a source for your attack on Corn?

report from yesterday includes the following disclaimer:

"Readers -- I am no fan of The National Review and their war propaganda, but a fact is a fact. May raised very legitimate questions which must be answered."

I didn't come up with the theory that Corn helped out Plame's status as a NOC. I don't believe in plagiarism. If you point out something to me which makes me look at things in a new light, then I'm going to credit you and it doesn't matter who you are. Clifford May speculated that Corn outed Plame's status. Forget about the messenger and just look at the message. Analyze it in light of facts and draw your own conclusions.

Novak said Plame was an "operative".

Corn said she was a "NOC".

From what I understand, an operative is a spy. I will grant the Corn defenders that. It even says so in the dictionary. But as far as I can tell, there are two kinds of spies. Those with "official cover" and those with "non-official cover" (NOCS). Novak's column labeled Plame as an operative, but Corn said she was a NOC.

I can accept that...operative = spy.

I cannot accept that...operative = NOC.

Corn stated she was a NOC. If he made a mistake, let him admit that he made a mistake and in his admission -- through the words that he uses -- we can analyze the veracity of his assertions and compare those assertions to other statements and conduct.

It's the totality of the circumstances you need to stay locked on, not just isolated incidents.

Corn doesn't list any other sources for his article but Novak. I don't understand how Corn comes to this conclusion without the Brewster Jennings info or something else. Did it never occur to Corn that Plame might have had official cover? Why give Corn a pass? Just because Clifford May brought it to your attention? Is that why you give Corn a pass? Perhaps Corn, Novak and May are trying to mess with your mind? I don't know. I can't prove that. But it's so obvious to me that the easiest way to keep America divided is on party lines.

So let's take a deep breath and digest this fact. Two days after Novak published, Corn -- citing no other source but Novak -- states that Plame was a NOC. He also listed other details that are suspicious, but let's ignore those and stick to the real heart of the matter.

Perhaps it could have been established that Plame worked for Brewster Jennings and that her employment with a private firm proved that she was a NOC since she would need a government job to have "official cover".

But Corn's July 16, 2003 report doesn't allege anything like that. Corn doesn't tell his readers that he researched Plame's job history, found out she worked for a private firm, and concluded on that basis that she must be a NOC. His report doesn't say that. His report claims to be based on Novak's report exclusively. But Novak doesn't say Plame was a NOC. Corn's report, two days later, does say she was a NOC.


She could be a covert operative and not be a NOC...IF she had official cover.

How did Corn know she never had official cover on July 16, 2003?

These are facts. It sucks that Clifford May and The National Review were first to expose these facts.

IT SUCKS! And the way Clifford May reported it really sucks. He didn't zero in on the main issue, the NOC statement. That's the beef. It's fair for somebody like Corn to extrapolate that operative = spy, but it's not fair to assume operative = NOC. You need something more than what Novak wrote.

Why didn't somebody else get there first? I don't know. But if I report on these facts and I don't mention the journalist who first brought these facts to our attention, what does that do to my credibility? It makes me guilty of plagiarism if I don't credit May's report. It's a catch 22.

Is it intended as a catch 22? I don't know, but it sure plays that way.

QUESTION: CS, what other facts lead you to believe that David Corn is not being honest with America?

ANSWER: Let's start with the most recent incident.

David Corn twisted Fitzgerald's words to make it appear that Fitz said something which Fitz did not say. This is a BIG fact. No amount of spin can change the fact. An ethical reporter does not make patchwork quotations as Corn has clearly done. Patrick Fitzgerald chooses his words very carefully. His office is leak proof and his press conference was his only chance to speak directly to the American people.

Doesn't Corn owe Fitzgerald the respect to quote him directly instead of "creating" quotes out of thin air?

Some of you may be saying, "Hey CS aren't you making accusation which you can't prove again?" The answer is no. I can prove that Corn misquoted Fitzgerald and I am the original source on this particular fact.

On the evening of October 28, 2005, David Corn published a
review of Fitzgerald's press conference for The Nation which was also published at Yahoo news. Pay attention to the following passage written by Corn:

Fitzgerald...did declare that "the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified...but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community" and that "her cover was blown" by the Novak column. (So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask.)

Now have a look at
what Fitz actually said:

"Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Once again, Corn published:

"her cover was blown" by the Novak column.

Corn commits an unforgivable heavy handed forgery of what Fitz actually said. Corn's report makes it appear that Fitz said "her cover was blown by the Novak column". Please notice he puts quotes around the first part, but not the second. He creates the impression in the reader's mind that Fitz made that specific statement.

Fitz never said "her cover was blown by the Novak column" which is what Corn implies by his "selective" quotation marks.

Fitz said, "The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Later in the press conference, Fitzgerald says,

"That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began."

So, according to Fitz:

- the first sign of Novak's cover being blown was Novak's column.
- her cover was blown in July
- it became clear that her cover was blown in Fall 2003

We can all try to put this in context, but none of us has the right to say we know exactly what Fitz meant. My take on this is the following:

- In the Fall of 2003, it became clear to Government officials that Plame's cover was blown so
they initiated an investigation.
- Plame's cover was blown in July 2003.
- The first sign of that cover being blown was Novak's column.

My take is conjecture. Corn's take is conjecture. Your take is conjecture.

But Corn represented an intentional misquote as being a fact. That's two layers of deception

- the fake quote
- not explaining that his report was conjecture

Since July 2005 Corn has been facing accusations that his July 16, 2003 column was responsible for outing Plame's NOC status. So Fitzgerald's statement that Novak's column was just "the first sign" of her cover being blown certainly does not help Corn's case at all.

Had Fitzgerald actually said, "Wilson's cover was blown on July 14, 2003 in Novak's column", then Corn would have every right to feel vindicated. But Fitz didn't say that. A fair non-biased journalist wouldn't report that Fitz made a statement favoring that reporter's cause when, in fact, a reasonable interpretation of Fitzgerald's comments could be construed to mean that Corn is still over the fire.

That may not be what Fitz meant, but it's certainly a reasonable interpretation.

Corn didn't portray his reporting on the Fitz statement as conjecture. Corn reported it as fact. This is -- at best - shoddy journalism. At worst, it's a flat out lie intended to mislead the country about his role in the Plame outing.

All we can do is guess what Fitz meant. And Corn is allowed to guess just like the rest of us. But Corn's report from October 28, 2005 -- widely disseminated through The Nation and Yahoo News -- does not make a guess at what Fitz meant. Corn makes a statement of fact that Fitzgerald has concluded Plame's cover was blown by Novak's column. It's bad enough that Corn doesn't put his conclusions in the form of conjecture, but Corn goes one step further by rearranging Fitzgerald's words -- twisting those words into a statement Fitz never made.

For those of you who support Corn, don't you think he owes his readers an explanation?

And I would expect that somebody with more clout than CS might get Randal Samborn to issue a statement regarding this misquotation of Fitzgerald's very carefully chosen words.

Furthermore, Corn is not exactly an unbiased party reporting objectively on the news. He's involved and he's used The Nation and Yahoo News to protect himself from scrutiny by defending accusations about him with the use of false quotes followed by an attack on his critics:

"...So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask..."

That's quite a clever trick. Corn twists the prosecutor's words - words that may imply others were involved in Plame's outing after Novak's column was published -- so that it appears the prosecutor has cleared Corn of any responsibility and then he uses the fake quote to mock those who have legitimate questions about his veracity.

This is not journalism. This is wrong. And Corn's behavior in this regard has now brought him more attention and scrutiny, not less. People know when they've been lied to. Corn lied about Fitzgerald's press conference.

That's a fact.

A journalist with as much power as Corn should know better. The word "audacity" comes to mind.

Would those who support Corn really allow right wing hacks like Novak and May to get away with such a blatant quote forgery as Corn is guilty of?

Corn's playing fast and loose with Fitzgerald's words doesn't prove that he is involved in the conspiracy to out Plame and Brewster Jennings, but his behavior certainly raises red flags which need to be examined in light of other statements and reports by Corn. We need to examine what he has written as well as what he has not written.

What did Joe Wilson do to make CS believe he's not been up front with the American people?

ANSWER: Joe Wilson had the media connections to publish "What I didn't Find In Africa" before our troops were put in harm's way. He had many months to counter the Bush administration's arguments -- to Congress, the military and the people -- in support of going to war in Iraq. After the war was well under way, Joe Wilson raised public awareness about the fake war Intel. And that awareness has led to an awakening that the country was duped into supporting the war by bogus Intel.

Joe Wilson tendered his conclusions to the CIA about the Niger fraud right after he came back from Africa.

When the President gave his famous State of the Union speech containing the 16 words, Joe Wilson could have written "What I Didn't Find In Africa" to counter the President's bogus message. Had Joe Wilson responded to the President before the war, 2000+ soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians might still be alive today.

Perhaps Joe Wilson has a reasonable explanation for not taking action before the war. If so, he's failed to tell the country why up until now. I would that think Joe Wilson -- if he's truly a patriot -- would expect the American people to ask that question of him.

QUESTION: What else did Joe Wilson do to make CS believe he's not been up front with the American people?

ANSWER: In two years of interviews, reports and lectures, Joe Wilson -- like Corn -- has been miserably deficient when it comes to discussing the applicable laws that were violated in the outing of his wife's covert status. But the most upsetting actions undertaken by Wilson are his statements given to reporters on background prior to his July 6, 2003 New York Times Op Ed.
The Daily HowlerDuring his trip, the CIA's envoy spoke with the president of Niger and other Niger officials mentioned as being involved in the Iraqi effort, some of whose signatures purportedly appeared on the documents.
published a very decisive and accurate time line detailing Wilson's statements to the press which raises serious questions about Wilson's veracity. From The Daily Howler:

Wilson wrote his famous op-ed in early July 2003. But in May and June of that year, he “backgrounded” some high-profile pieces about his trip—pieces which flatly misstated the facts, but presented a clear-and-pleasing contradiction. For example, here’s part of Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece from May 6 of that year. Wilson later told Vanity Fair that he was the source for the column:

KRISTOF (5/6/03): Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons...

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted—except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

This account is highly dramatic—but it’s utterly bogus. In fact, Wilson never saw those famous forged documents; in fact, no one in the U.S. government had seen the docs at the time of his trip. No one knew whose signatures were on the documents—and Wilson didn’t make the report which Kristof described. Wilson didn’t “debunk the forgery,” as he made clear in his own later column. But Kristof’s column, though factually fake, told a highly dramatic tale, in which a fearless envoy debunked a forgery—and Bush just kept on citing it anyway. This created the illusion of a sharp contradiction—a clear-cut, perfect drama. And so did Walter Pincus’ piece in the Washington Post, another (bogus) report for which Wilson was the source:

PINCUS (6/12/03): [T]he CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed.

After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong," the former U.S. government official said.

Again, reporters heard a dramatic story, in which the ambassador performed a clear-cut debunking of some forged documents—documents Wilson never saw. When he was interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wilson acknowledged that he was the source for this Pincus report—and he offered laughable reasons for his apparent misstatements (text below). Meanwhile, Kristof published a follow-up column. His original column had been blatantly wrong, as Wilson of course had seen when he read it. But to all appearances, the honest ambassador never clued Kristof. The new column was dramatic, but wrong once again:

KRISTOF (6/13/03): The agency chose a former ambassador to Africa to undertake the mission, and that person flew to Niamey, Niger, in the last week of February 2002. This envoy spent one week in Niger, staying at the Sofitel and discussing his findings with the U.S. ambassador to Niger, and then flew back to Washington via Paris.

Immediately upon his return, in early March 2002, this senior envoy briefed the C.I.A. and State Department and reported that the documents were bogus, for two main reasons. First, the documents seemed phony on their face—for example, the Niger minister of energy and mines who had signed them had left that position years earlier. Second, an examination of Niger's uranium industry showed that an international consortium controls the yellowcake closely, so the Niger government does not have any yellowcake to sell.

A highly dramatic, clear-cut debunking—but one that is based on fake facts. Ditto for the account given by Judis and Ackerman when they discussed the honest ambassador in a New Republic cover story released on June 23:

JUDIS/ACKERMAN (6/30/03): In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Bush introduced a new piece of evidence to show that Iraq was developing a nuclear arms program: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. ... Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

One year earlier, Cheney's office had received from the British, via the Italians, documents purporting to show Iraq's purchase of uranium from Niger. Cheney had given the information to the CIA, which in turn asked a prominent diplomat, who had served as ambassador to three African countries, to investigate. He returned after a visit to Niger in February 2002 and reported to the State Department and the CIA that the documents were forgeries. The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR. But, after a British dossier was released in September detailing the purported uranium purchase, administration officials began citing it anyway, culminating in its inclusion in the State of the Union. "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," the former ambassador tells TNR. "They were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this to make their case more persuasive.”

In this passage, Judis and Ackerman misstate what Bush said in his State of the Union; Wilson can’t be faulted for that. But they too reported the bogus story in which the honest ambassador—now a “prominent diplomat”—provided a clear-cut debunking of those famous forged documents.

In fact, those documents had been forged—but Wilson himself never saw them, played no role in their debunking. But so what? Somehow, Kristof/Pincus/Judis all heard a fake tale—a pleasing tale, with direct, clear-cut debunking at its core. But then, everybody in the press had been hearing this pleasing story at the time Joe Wilson went public. Wilson’s own Times column was more circumspect; it didn’t repeat these howling misstatements. (See above. Finally speaking on the record, Wilson expressly said that he hadn’t seen the forged documents.) But perhaps it took a bit of time for the press to notice an awkward fact—Wilson’s column didn’t really contradict what Bush had said in his State of the Union. The press had been hearing Hero Tales of direct debunking for months. Perhaps they didn’t notice, right off the bat, that Wilson’s column was somewhat less dramatic.

Aesop’s press corps loves a good fable. For two months, Wilson—on background—had offered just that. At any rate, the press corps was beginning to look for a tale which would illustrate their (accurate) new conclusion: Bush misled us on the way into war. But right up to this very day, Wilson’s “contradiction” doesn’t quite parse. Result? To this day, scribes misstate what Wilson said. It builds a more dramatic tale, in which contradictions are more direct. But that’s what Aesop’s press corps typically does when it decides to convince us rubes of the truth of its latest Group Judgment.

In this case, their judgment was accurate. They just chose a rather weak tale with which to convey that new judgment.

WHAT WILSON SAID IN HIS COLUMN: Here is Wilson’s fuller account of what he found in Niger:

WILSON (7/6/03): In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey, where I had been a diplomat in the mid-70's and visited as a National Security Council official in the late 90's...

I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

But Bush never said a transaction took place! From that day to this, Aesop’s press corps has bent, shaved and rearranged facts to create a direct contradiction.

WHAT WILSON TOLD THE SENATE COMMITTEE: According to the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wilson acknowledged that he was the source of the Pincus report. Why then did Pincus think that Wilson had debunked the forged documents? Prepare to avert your gaze:

SENATE INTELLIGENCE REPORT (page 45): The former ambassador said that he may have “misspoken” to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were “forged.” He also 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 and may have thought he had seen the names himself.

The IAEA debunked the docs, not Wilson. But egad! According to Wilson, he may have confused his own work with that of the IAEA! Avert your gaze in embarrassment as you ponder how Kristof, Pincus and Judis/Ackerman came to write those bogus reports—reports which helped prepare the way for Wilson’s not-contradictory column.

If you're willing to give Wilson a pass on this issue, and you're willing to accept that he "mispoke", will you also give Libby and Rove a pass when they say, "I don't remember" or "I must have mispoke"...?

Isn't it hypocritical to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt when his own words cast aspersions on him? I don't believe Libby or Rove and I certainly won't give them the benefit of the doubt, but I certainly will hold Wilson up to the same standard of review as Libby and Rove.

Nobody gets a pass. Trust nobody. Look at the facts. Ask questions. Demand answers.

Reader (and lone CS guest blogger) "Antiaristo" has also pointed out the following in
comments to the previous CS report:

...In an interview aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," Wilson said that Plame, 42, was in shock when she saw her name and that of her fictitious employer published in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.

"She felt like she'd been hit in the stomach. It took her breath away," Wilson said.

...Plame was in Novak's July 14 column, but Brewster-Jennings was in Novak's October 3 column.

Why is Wilson pretending that her name and that of her fictitious employer were published in the SAME column?

Perhaps Wilson "mispoke" again? How are we supposed to know when the guy is telling the truth? This statement makes it appear as if Plame's name as well as Brewster Jennings' were revealed at the same time. Perhaps Joe Wilson really meant to say, "She felt like she had been hit in the stomach twice"...? I don't know. Somebody who has access to him can ask if he mispoke again.

Had Wilson stood up before the war, America would owe him a great debt. And perhaps history will still defend his honor and show him to be a hero, but he's got a lot of questions to answer before any of us can be sure of his innocense or his guilt.

The Intelligence divisions of our Government are run by spooks. They are a different breed than the average person. They play games. Spin yarns. Conceive conspiracies. This is what they do. And they justify their decisions in the name of national security. But there's a profit margin built into war. The Carlyle Group and Haliburton have made billions because of war. We the people -- through the sweat of our labor -- line the pockets of these companies as they rebuild an Iraq which they also got paid to destroy.

"Creative destruction."

RICO. Keep that in mind. And when somebody tells you that the word "conspiracy" is for nuts, just ask them who wrote the RICO statutes and then ask them if they are willing to release everyone in the mafia who was convicted under RICO laws and other conspiracy laws. If conspiracy is for nuts, what the hell is that word doing in so many of our laws? Are the conspiracy laws nuts as well?

Americans are generally not spooks, but America better start thinking like them if it wants to know what really happened in the Plame affair.

So take a deep breath, put your bullshit detectors on and get to work. The country needs your scrutiny, questions and doubt. Blog comments are the way to make your voices heard. Letters and phonecalls to Congress are not going to cut it.

by CS