One has to wonder if Susan Schmidt has actually read the Senate report on intelliegnce failures in regard to Iraq. Josh Marshall finds so many holes in her story it makes you wonder if she shouldn't have let some intern fact checker look her story over. A more deligent editor would have been nice too. Marshall in his own understated way slams Schmidt for not just her fact skipping. but her snarky political agenda:
The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson's bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional.and Marshall replies:
There's no 'challenging the bona fides of a political opponent' exception to the law in question. While Plame's alleged role may have some political traction, it's legally irrelevant. Government officials are not allowed to disclose the identity of covert intelligence agents, whether they feel like they have a good reason or not.
Remarkably the Senate investigation drew an arbitrary line in the sand regarding where the documents that ultimately were the source for Bush's SOTU screw-up came from and how they were used.
Further more, Wilson's assertions are not his alone, there are other sources for Wilson's claim that the Whitehouse played with the information about Niger in a way that suited their agenda.
* Cheney initiated the CIA's original inquiry into reports that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium in Niger. Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby admitted "the Vice President asked a question about the implication of the report" during one of his regular intelligence briefings. [Time, 7/13/03]
* After Cheney's question, the CIA sent retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate. Wilson reported in March 2002 to both the CIA and State Department that the reports were false. CIA sent a memo on Wilson's findings to the White House on March 9, 2002. [Time, 7/13/03]
* 4-Star Marine Gen. Carlton W. Fulton Jr. met with Niger president in Feb. '02, to check the security of the country's uranium. [Washington Post, 7/15/03]
* Fulton reported that he was "convinced it was not an issue," and passed his findings to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. [Washington Post, 7/15/03]
* State Department's intelligence bureau independently concluded in early March 2002 that the allegation connecting Iraq to Niger was likely false. [AP, 7/11/03; Time, 7/13/03]
* In March ’02 State Department intelligence officials sent a memo directly to Powell, advising him that Iraq connection to Niger was likely false. [AP, 7/11/03; Time, 7/13/03]
* The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), cited by the Bush administration to rebut charges Bush knowingly used false information, included a State Department conclusion that "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in [the State Dept.’s] assessment, highly dubious." [Tenet Statement, 7/11/03]
Yet the Niger stuff still ended up in the 2003 SOTU. Only a determination by Bush-Cheney to distort and manipulate the public could have allowed that to happen. There is no excuse for the smear campaign waged against Wilson and by proxy, his wife. Bush's behavior has been shameless and it how seems that the Senate has joyed in.