In a story with the riveting hed Husband Is Conspicuous in Leak Case, Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus correct some past Post reporting on Joseph Wilson (without saying so) and finally start citing some of the evidence that's demolished some of Wilson's claims. It's worth your time to read it, even with the kid-glove treatment in which the worst offense to the truth attributed to Wilson is having "misspoken."
First on the unacknowledged correction: Back on July 27, Pincus and Jim VandeHei dropped the ball by accepting one of Wilson's contentions at face value. As I wrote at the time:
In Prosecutor In CIA Leak Case Casting A Wide Net, on A1 this morning, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei write:
In a 2002 trip to Niger at the request of the CIA, Wilson found no evidence to support allegations that Iraq was seeking uranium from that African country and reported back to the agency in February 2002.
But that's a claim, not a fact, and one disputed by the Senate Intelligence Committee's report in July last year--as noted in this story at the time by Susan Schmidt:
The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he [Wilson] has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts....
After posting that item, I sent an email asking for a correction to then-ombudsman Michael Getler, and later to the generic corrections address for the Post, neither of which was even acknowledged. I'll take the following in today's story as glass-half-full, especially if the Post keeps referring to it in the future:
Wilson also had charged that his report on Niger clearly debunked the claim about Iraqi uranium purchases. He told NBC in 2004: "This government knew that there was nothing to these allegations." But the Senate committee said his findings were ambiguous. Tenet said Wilson's report "did not resolve" the matter.
Overall it's not a bad pro-and-con piece, though I don't believe the Bush Administration is treated as gently as Wilson is here when the facts are contradicted by reality. Milbank/Pincus:
Wilson has also armed his critics by misstating some aspects of the Niger affair. For example, Wilson told The Washington Post anonymouslyin June 2003 that he had concluded that the intelligence about the Niger uranium was based on forged documents because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." The Senate intelligence committee, which examined pre-Iraq war intelligence, reported that Wilson "had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports." Wilson had to admit he had misspoken.
That inaccuracy was not central to Wilson's claims about Niger, but his critics have used it to cast doubt on his veracity about more important questions, such as whether his wife recommended him for the 2002 trip, as administration officials charged in the conversations with reporters that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is now probing. Wilson has maintained that Plame was merely "a conduit," telling CNN last year that "her supervisors asked her to contact me."
But the Senate committee found that "interviews and documents provided to the committee indicate that his wife . . . suggested his name for the trip." The committee also noted a memorandum from Plame saying Wilson "has good relations" with Niger officials who "could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." In addition, notes on a State Department document surmised that Plame "had the idea to dispatch him" to Niger.
The CIA has always said, however, that Plame's superiors chose Wilson for the Niger trip and she only relayed their decision.
Here's an Aug. 11 blog with images of key sections of the Intelligence Committee report that, for the most part, has been AWOL in the Post.