Agam's Gecko
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

he newest "gotcha" on Bush is that he authorised the release of portions of the National Intelligence Estimate to reporters back in 2003, in an effort to correct the misleading claims and outright lies of one Joseph Wilson IV. How can Bush denounce the deluge of intelligence leaks that have plagued his administration, when he's the biggest "leaker" of all? That's the way it's being framed on the "progressive" side of things.

Remember: Wilson had been leaking the story of his Niger trip well before coming out of the closet with an op-ed in the New York Times. Nick Kristof wrote several columns based on Wilson's tales, citing him as an unnamed former diplomat. Wilson was making speaking engagements at which he declared he was on the warpath against Bush, and he was already a consultant on the Kerry campaign, well before he put his name on that op-ed. Later inquiries by the 911 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee found that Wilson's spectacular claims of having comprehensively debunked the idea that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, were greatly exaggerated. These committees also found that his repeated claims that his wife had nothing to do with sending him to Niger, were also false. In fact, his report back to CIA was taken by the intel community to have actually strengthened the evidence that Iraq had sought uranium from that country.

So with Joe Wilson touring America, flapping his gums in a vain attempt to be a president-slaying hero, claiming to have the proof that Bush lied about the intelligence estimates, the administration knew that Wilson was the one lying and misleading the country. In the White House, discussions were held about what Wilson was saying (and how the press was eating it up whole), and that the NIE actually contained the information to prove Wilson's duplicity. And so Bush authorised the partial release -- which is within his authority -- and told his officers to "get it out." It was first released to Judy Miller of the NYT (she didn't write a story on it), and shortly thereafter it was given to the press at large.

Of course it was for the purpose of discrediting Wilson, who was objectively damaging the national interest by lying about these things. What it wasn't, was a leak. Unauthorised disclosure of classified information, as in some unnamed CIA official with a grudge passing classified stuff to a reporter, is a leak. Authorised disclosure inherently means declassification of the information, which in this case was selected parts of the NIE (portions which could set the record straight against the efforts of a known liar, and would not impair national security). These estimates are the property of the administration, and they are theirs to retain or release. How is it the same as a disgruntled State Dept. or CIA official taking them from the owner and giving them to somebody else against the owner's wishes?

If I give you something of mine, that's fine and we're both happy. Share it if you want, it's up to you. If you take it without my knowledge, you may be happy but I won't be -- not to mention that it's a crime.

Lots of geniuses on the left are convinced that this "Bush leak" is the second coming of Fitzmas (which has fitzelled out for them so far, tragically), and "Bush is goin' down, man! Impeachment, here we come!" Which, if this is reality-based nuance, I don't know whether to laugh, or....... laugh harder.

But it is encouraging to see that some on the left are getting fed up with Joseph Wilson IV, and distancing themselves from him. See here for example at the New Republic. And lo and behold, the Washington Post a few days ago, resisting the tug of her inner moonbat, issued an editorial lauding Bush for the release and castigating Wilson for being the truth twister. It's nice to see the WaPo getting some balance on this story, and I hope it continues with others. Read A Good Leak -- although they also persist in terming the release as a "leak." If a release is properly authorised by the owner of the information, and not stolen from them, then it isn't a leak.

And wow, did this editorial set the lefty websites off in spectacular fashion. Firedogs, Koss-hacks and their minions by the score fired up a mass attack on the poor Washington Post. It has to be seen to be believed (scroll down a bit to see comments from April 9 and later).

In his column yesterday, Christopher Hitchens revisits the Iraq - Niger uranium issue, reminding us of what is known about Iraqis shopping for uranium in Niger. Hands up anyone who knew that Iraq originally bought uranium from Niger in the 1980's? Didn't think so. They were almost certainly shopping for more in 1999, when the top Iraqi official for nuclear matters visited the country whose products are goats and uranium. Nigerien officials state that they certainly believed the purpose for talking trade issues with Iraq, had to do with Iraqis' desire for uranium. The President's statement in his SOTU address of 2003, that British intelligence informed the US that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Africa, continues to be true -- even as it remains the star exhibit for the "Bush lied" crowd, who never quote it correctly anyway.

This latest kerfuffle, dutifully spun in mainstream press (including on the front page of the same WaPo which contained the above mentioned contradictory editorial), is giving lots of people dreams of impeachment, and even execution of the President for treason. A political analyst of esteemed expertise, actor Ben Affleck has stated on a (comedy) news show, that "he can be hanged for that!" Yup, Bush is going down for sure, this time. In a quirky confluence of "reality-based" Bush Derangement with digital reality, a fantasy comes to life on the web. Bush is going down! Down, down, down. (This one is fun, and requires flash)

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