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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.Kristof mistakenly asserted that Joe Wilson claimed his trip proved the documents were a forgery. Kristof subsequently sent an email to Joe Wilson saying:
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 â€” except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway. "It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year," one insider said.
i remember you saying that you had not seen the documents. my recollection is that at we had some information about the documents at that time - e.g. the names of people in them - but i do clearly remember you saying that you had not been shown them.While the Kristof article stirred some interest at the White House, it did not start the five alarm fire. That "honor" belongs to Walter Pincus.
The CIA did not pass on the detailed results of its investigation to the White House or other government agencies, the officials said.The official went on to minimize the importance of Joe Wilson's trip, claiming that:
"This gent made a visit to the region and chatted up his friends," a senior intelligence official said, describing the agency's view of the mission. "He relayed back to us that they said it was not true and that he believed them."The White House officials, however, did not tell Pincus about the memos they had received from both CIA and INR, which painted a much different picture of the events leading up to the President's January 2003 State of the Union address.
the case "is indicative of larger problems" involving the handling of intelligence about Iraq's alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda, which the administration cited as justification for war. "Information not consistent with the administration agenda was discarded and information that was [consistent] was not seriously scrutinized.If you search the web for Plamegate Timelines you will find many references to the Kristof article and few mentions of the Pincus article. And where Pincus is mentioned it is usually as an afterthought. Two weeks into the Libby trial it is now apparent that the Timelines should be revised and updated. It was Walter Pincus, not Nicholas Kristof, who got under the skin of the Vice President and his staff. And it was his questions that started Cheney's office on its mission to discredit Joe Wilson. As Karl Rove later told Chris Matthews, Joe Wilson's wife was fair game. June 2003 marked the start of the intense effort to out Valerie Plame, which culminated in the leaks in July 2003 to Robert Novak, Matt Cooper, and others.