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April 23, 2006

McCarthy Almost Certainly Was Not a Decision-Maker In Sending Joe Wilson to Niger

I apologize for over-speculating yesterday. My speculations outpaced my factual grounding.

McCarthy almost certainly did not "send" Wilson to Niger, in the sense of her being someone with that authority at the time.

For one thing, the 9/11 report says the decision was made by a CIA officer in the Operations division, and McCarthy wasn't, I'm pretty damn sure. She was an analyst, in the Intelligence division, not in Operations. Her posting as National Intelligence Official for Warning is similarly an analyst/intelligence type position (and I'm not sure you're technically in the CIA anymore when you have that position).

Furthermore, McCarthy was eased out of her high position in 2001, and the decision to send Wilson to Niger wasn't made until early 2002 (February, I think, according to Allah's research). It's possible that McCarthy was still in her NIO/W position at the beginning of the process of sending Wilson to Niger, but it seems less likely.

This still leaves open the possibility that she was informally consulted about this. It still seems to me that, whether this was an Operations mission or not, you'd want to have input from the NIO/W; or, if McCarthy was already out of that position at that time, her replacement might want to know what the former holder of the position thought.

She still most likely knew Joe Wilson, and almost certainly knew of him, as they were in the NSC together with the same area-of-the-world portfolio (Africa).

And I still suspect that this cadre of liberal leakers, fighting the CIA's consensus and the Bush Administration, were frequently talking to each other. That's how things work. People seek the counsel of like-minded people, particularly when they feel marginalized, ignored, or compelled to take shady or outright illegal actions. People join groups for camraderie, after all.

But the initial strong-form of my speculation -- that she was formally consulted in her capacity as NIO/W on the mission -- is probably wrong, and the notion that she was actually the decision-maker who signed off on the mission and ordered it to occur is definitely wrong.

Again, I still think it is a worthy question to ask whether or not McCarthy was in the mix of people suggesting names for the Niger mission, whether she endorsed Plame's suggestion of her own husband (or even suggested to Plame she put Joe Wilson's name forward). But I do have to retract the stronger form of the speculation as, errr, inconveniently misaligning with the facts and timeline of the decision.

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posted by Ace at 11:23 AM

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