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July 13, 2004

New York Times Spins the Uranium Story

Despite the aggressive spin -- in which the consensus reports of entire intelligence agencies are considered to be unreliable if a few "officials" (presumably of the liberal stripe) express doubts -- the story is useful as to the basic timeline.

In other words, if a few "officials" are enough to discredit the CIA's consensus report in favor of the left, it seems that a few "officials" also should be able to discredit the CIA's consensus reporting from the right.

Surely, for example, there are CIA "officials" who believe in a strong Al Qaeda-Saddam tie. And yet we never seem to hear about those officials, nor is it suggested that the contrarian beliefs of a few should outweigh the conventional-wisdom beliefs of the agency as a whole on this count.

According to the New York Times, we seem to have a new rule. We've all heard that "one man with courage constitutes a majority." Now one man with a differing opinion that advances a liberal cause also constitutes a majority.

The article is particularly useful as to disproving the "Bush lied" charge. I challenge anyone to read it and conclude that the CIA and other intelligence organs were reporting that the story were false. They weren't-- they were reporting it as true, if smoky in some particulars.

Hitchens can't resist joining in the pig-pile, either. In addition to reciting the facts that you already know, he offers this:

To say this is not to defend the Bush administration, which typically managed to flourish the only allegation made about Niger that had been faked, and which did not have the courage to confront Mr. and Mrs. Wilson in public with their covert political agenda. But it does draw attention to an interesting aspect of this whole debate: the increasing solidarity of the left with the CIA. The agency disliked Ahmad Chalabi and was institutionally committed to the view that the Saddam regime in Iraq was a) secular and b) rationally interested in self-preservation. It repeatedly overlooked important evidence to the contrary, even as it failed entirely to infiltrate jihadist groups or to act upon FBI field reports about their activity within our borders. Bob Woodward has a marvelous encapsulating anecdote in his recent book: George Tenet on Sept. 11 saying that he sure hopes this isn't anything to do with those people acting suspiciously in the flight schools. ... The case for closing the CIA and starting again has been overwhelming for some time. But many liberals lately prefer, for reasons of opportunism, to take CIA evidence at face value.

He says the left is increasingly in solidarity with the CIA. I wonder if the actual case is more like the opposite-- that the CIA is increasingly in solidarity with the left.

Update: The New York Times story is breathtakingly dishonest. Note the following:

In January 2003, the State Department's analyst sent an e-mail message to other analysts saying that he believed that the documents obtained in Italy were fake. The "uranium purchase agreement probably is a hoax," he wrote.

What doesn't that say? Well, it says that one State Department analyst-- ONE -- thought the uranium purchase agreement supplied by the British was a hoax. What it doesn't mention is that, by implication, everyone else thought it was legitimate, and continue to believe so. But the New York Times sets up this single source-- this ONE analyst in the State Department -- as the only authoritative arbiter on the question.

I can easily write a similar article in which I credit this ONE analyst here or that ONE contrarian there where I prove that Saddam Hussein planned 9-11.

And check out this conclusion:

His address suddenly gave the uranium issue high visibility, but it could not withstand global scrutiny. In February 2003, Washington sent copies of the Iraq-Niger documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear proliferation. The next month, the agency determined that the documents were forgeries. On March 11, the C.I.A. issued its own assessment, in which it said it could not dispute the atom agency's conclusion.

Note we begin by talking about "the uranium issue," then move to the Italian documents regarding the sale. The New York Times dishonestly -- deliberately dishonestly -- takes proof that these documents were forged as proof that the uranium sale was never agreed to, or even sought. In fact the documents were never cited by Bush as evidence of the sale, and were never relied upon by British Intelligence.

But that conclusion is deliberately written to suggest that the uranium-from-Africa story is now doubed by both the IAEA and the CIA, when in fact both bodies are only talking about some specific Italian forgeries.

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posted by Ace at 10:35 PM

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