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July 06, 2005

NY TimesWatch®: It's A Crying Plame...

Can the Times get any sillier? In yet another ridiculously self-parodying piece, the Times plumbs the depths of Journalistic Dishonesty under the pathetically pathos-laden headline:

Private Spy and Public Spouse Live at Center of Leak Case

Good God... who comes up with these lines...Oprah?

Loyal Times' readers would never know that Wilson's claims were investigated and discredited by both the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and the Butler Commission. The Times certainly won't let on: to hear them tell it, poor Joe Wilson is just another hapless victim of nefarious partisan scheming. Wife Valerie is portrayed as Secret Squirrel-cum-Bored-Hausfrau, stoicly maintaining a low profile in the face of unprovoked attacks from right-wing whack jobs intent on outing her Secret Identity.

It can't be easy maintaining that noble silence, can it?

For nearly two years, the investigation into the leak of a covert C.I.A. officer's name has unfolded clamorously in the nation's capital, with partisan brawling on talk shows, prosecutors interviewing President Bush and top White House officials [Oooh...the Times vows to follow the trail of corruption all the way to the top, folks...], and the imminent prospect that reporters could go to jail for contempt of court [Not an usual fate for people who refuse to comply with court orders].
But the woman at the center of it all, Valerie E. Wilson, has kept her silence, showing the discipline and discretion that colleagues say made her a good spy. As her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, has become a highly visible critic of the administration and promoted his memoirs, Ms. Wilson has ferried their 5-year-old twins to doctors' appointments, looked after their hilltop house in the upscale Palisades neighborhood of Washington and counseled women with postpartum depression.

The Times informs us that Saint Valerie has led a dreary life, unable to even defend herself:

Meanwhile, Ms. Wilson, 42, whose husband said she has used her married name both at work and in her personal life since their 1998 marriage, declined to speak for this article. She has guarded her privacy, with rare exceptions. She posed with her husband for a Vanity Fair photographer, wearing sunglasses and with a scarf over her blond hair. She drafted an op-ed article to correct what she felt were distortions of her and her husband's actions, but the C.I.A. would not authorize its publication, saying it would "affect the agency's ability to perform its mission."

plame.jpg With poor Ms. Plame living a life of virtual seclusion and the CIA "guarding her privacy" so rigorously, how then do we explain this little item?

According to Vanity Fair, the photo was taken at the magazine's annual dinner for the Tribeca Film Festival, and Plame's and Wilson's fellow guests included Robert deNiro, Nicole Kidman, Barry Diller, Willem Dafoe, John McEnroe, and many others. Plame's and Wilson's photo appears below a shot of David Bowie and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. The Times also cites friends who say the privacy-protecting Plame and ambassador Wilson "have had a low-key social life."

According to the Times:

...Mr. Wilson said they had attended only one "A-list Washington party," given by Ben Bradlee, the retired Washington Post editor.

The horror! One cannot begin to imagine their pain. But lest they feel too alone, the Wilsons can rest assured they have many friends in the journalistic community. Friends willing, for instance, to put the most positive spin on the conclusions of the Senate Select Intelligence Commission, which concluded that Wilson had not told the truth:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.
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.
The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."

Strangely, no reference to the Senate's conclusions appears in the Times account. Instead, as during the past presidential election, the Times devotes most of their print space to Wilson's denials of culpability:

Mr. Wilson has laid out his own account in interviews and in his memoir, "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's C.I.A. Identity." The 514-page book, which features on the back cover photographs of Mr. Wilson with the first President Bush, President Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein, has sold 60,000 copies in hardcover, according to the publisher, Carroll & Graf. The just-published paperback includes an 11,000-word essay by Russ Hoyle, an investigative reporter recruited by Carroll & Graf to examine factual disputes raised by the case.

Folks, this little number is just flying off the shelves! At 514 pages, you know it must be true -- every word of it! Operators are standing by right now to take your call - order your copy at 1-800-PLAMEGATE!!!

Mr. Wilson said that though his wife wrote a memorandum describing his expertise at the request of a C.I.A. superior, she did not propose him for the Niger trip. He scoffs at the notion that a trip to one of the poorest countries on earth, for which he was paid only his expenses, was some kind of prize.

He has acknowledged he may have misspoken about a few details, like the date he became aware of forged documents purporting to show a uranium sale. [Ed note: or the fact that his wife recommended him...or the fact that he only drank tea with a few old cronies and didn't really investigate anything] But conservatives' attacks on his credibility, he said, are merely an effort to distract Americans from a far graver fact: that the United States went to war on the basis of flimsy, distorted evidence.

"I'm deeply saddened that the debate before the war did not adequately take into consideration issues that a number of us had raised," Mr. Wilson said.

The Times is apparently not deeply saddened by its own inexplicable failure to mention that the Butler Inquiry investigated the claim Wilson was sent to check out and pronounced it well-founded:

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa was well-founded.

Apparently, the Grey Lady's long sink to the bottom is fated to continue unabated:

A Swiss consultancy asked 1,000 respondents in 50 countries what newspaper they thought was the world’s best, and the Times ranked a dismal sixth — down from first place just two years ago.

“The results show that the New York Times is suffering because of past scandals,” said the pollsters, Internationale Medienhilfe, in a statement.

Complete top-ten list after the jump.

1. Financial Times (U.K.) 19.4% (20.7% in 2003% in 2003)

2. The Wall Street Journal (U.S.) 17.0% (7.5% in 2003)

3. Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) 16.2% (10.9% in 2003)

4. Le Monde (France) 12.5% (2.1% in 2003)

5. Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Switzerland) 12.1% (15.0% in 2003)

6. The New York Times (U.S.) 8.1% (21.3% in 2003)

7. International Herald Tribune (France) 5.2% (11.3% in 2003)

8. Asahi Shimbun (Japan) 2.6% (0.4% in 2003)

9. El Pais (Spain) 1.9% (4.8% in 2003)

10. Corriere della Sera (Italy) 1.3% (0.7% in 2003)

Just think how things would be different if only the Times had some way to prove that its reporters are ethical.

And so it goes...

Posted by Cassandra at July 6, 2005 07:29 AM

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She's not bad lookin' at all.

Posted by: spd_rdr at July 6, 2005 11:56 AM

She has counseled women with post partum depression?
Can her first three miracles be far behind? Shall we stay tuned?

Good grief. I would think *pince nez firmly in place* that any woman whose husband was in the limelight would play Portia if for no other reason than her behavior covers his and gives him credibility.

Even St. Hillary of Clinton-Rodham fame has played the Stoic.

Posted by: Cricket at July 6, 2005 01:13 PM

I seem to recall that Plame's CIA functions were not exactly, "under cover," which kind of renders the usage of the word, "spy," a bit of an exaggeration??? No?

Posted by: JannyMae at July 6, 2005 01:39 PM

If the sheets fit...
After re reading this for the third time, and making sure I understand all what is involved (please keep the tomatoes for after the comment. Thank you)
Wilson goes to Africa to see if Saddam is buying yellowcake. What he finds there is credible.

What the yellowcake is being used for is a given, considering who is buying and in what amounts.

Then he turns around and says we went to war on the flimsiest of excuses, which was based on intel that he gathered? And in the process of this investigation his wife is outed as what? A spy?
I think she was an analyst.

Posted by: Cricket at July 6, 2005 01:53 PM

Basically, Wilson's wife puts his name in for the job.

He goes to Africa, sits around drinking mint tea with a bunch of his old cronies, says, "I say old chap... Saddam hasn't been trying to purchase any yellowcake, has he? Wot, wot????"

The cronies say, "Lord no! Perish the thought!"

More tea.

Wilson comes back and says "I've investigated thoroughly and there's NOTHING to this ludicrous yellowcake story the Brits are peddling" In fact, Wilson then goes around saying that Bush and Powell lied to get us to go to war on the basis of documents that later turned out to be forged.

The problem with this claim is that Wilson himself lied about aspects of the forgery claim, about whether his wife recommended him for the job, and about several other things. And both the Senate Select Committee and the Butler Committee determined that Bush and Powell's claims that Saddam sought uranium were NOT BASED ON THE FORGED DOCS, BUT ON OTHER INTELLIGENCE REPORTS THAT WERE BOTH WELL-FOUNDED AND CLASSIFIED AT THE TIME.

So there was no "LIE", except the ones Wilson told.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 6, 2005 02:18 PM

Oh... and the lies the MSM have told about this story ever since. And they are *legion*. Lies of omission.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 6, 2005 02:20 PM

Ah. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

I really think, Cass, this is one area where your incisive logic and formidable writing skills should
take flight. Document this whole thing with a time line of what was said and when. This could be a book. I am totally serious.

Posted by: Cricket at July 6, 2005 03:13 PM

You know what fricking scares me? I saw the Wikipedia entry for Wilson and it's completely and totally inaccurate.

NO MENTION of the Senate Select Intel report that discredited him.

NO MENTION of the FACT that the information Bush and Powell presented to the UN and Congress was NOT based on the forged docs.

I could just scream.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 6, 2005 03:20 PM

Well, here would be a good op for the Bush people to holler about the 'vast, left wing conspiracy' aimed to discredit him, and he has fought tooth and nail for the truth, and Clinton was just the opposite; he fought tooth and nail to HIDE it.

It scares me too.

Posted by: Cricket at July 6, 2005 06:29 PM

I'm frightened by the influence of, "the press," when I look back on what they tried to do to prop up John Kerry, against Bush. I can't even imagine what a landslide the November election would have been if the media had made an effort to be, "fair." Thankfully, their attempts failed, but what about next time?

The, "sins, of omission," by this MSM of ours regarding the WOT are a constant source of frustration for me...and many others, too, I know! Who can forget those headlines, "No WMD in Iraq!" and "No Iraq al Qaeda Ties!" Anyone who read the actual reports knows that how misleading those headlines were. This uranium story is bandied about constantly, by those who tell it exactly the way you describe! I believe it all boils down to:

SCREW the TRUTH! Must bash Bush!

Posted by: JannyMae at July 6, 2005 08:14 PM

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