October 5, 2003

"Today, anything that gets George Bush in trouble is OK ... "

The CounterRevolutionary puts his finger on something that's been vaguely bothering me--the extant to which hatred of the Bush Administration has suddenly caused both press and Democrats to discard their usual suspicions of the CIA.

....One clear theme emerges from the explanations � the willingness by certain parts of the CIA to undermine the civilian leadership of this country. If Cheney requested the follow-up, why were adequate resources not allocated? Even if someone at the CIA did not like the story, why were they in a position to question the judgement of their civilian authority? By sending Wilson on a half-assed attempt to �gather intelligence�, this group was actively subverting Cheney�s request to get serious answers to a matter of utmost national security.

Could it be that this is what Novak�s birdies were trying to say? It has been clear for a while that the Agency and the White House were not getting along, but did they go too far this time? Anonymous leakers in press giving their opinions were one thing, but publicly undermining the Executive, and perhaps, trying to influence domestic politics was too much for someone. So, they reached out to the press � connect the dots they said � from Wilson to the CIA. Ask questions about how he was hired and why.

In a different time, any sign that the CIA has gone rogue � that it developed its own political agenda, hired unauthorized operatives and undermined the express wishes of elected officials would have gotten the press� panties in a bunch. After all, who knows what �initiatives� they will take next or what they will consider �serious� matters? But not today. Today, anything that gets George Bush in trouble is OK with the press. Even if that old nemesis, the CIA, misbehaves � it�s fine as long as they hate Bush as much as we do.

UPDATE: Representative Peter King thinks that the Agency has gone rogue too.

This reminds me of when some retired generals came out against the possible invasion of Iraq, and suddenly unprincipled people who normally consider our soldiers to be incompetent baby-killers were saying that mere civilians shouldn't be making decisions on whether to go to war! [You need a stronger word than "unprincipled" here --IC. How about "Clintonesque" --Charlene] Now the same creatures are suddenly sure that the brave and patriotic lads and lasses of the Central Intelligence Agency could not conceivably tell us a lie....

The whole idea of the Wilson mission was wacky from the beginning. If Niger was talking to Iraq about selling Uranium, they weren't going to tell us. The subject would obviously be hotter than a pistol, and probably only a handful of people in the Niger government would even know about it. To quote CounterRevolutionary again,

...It appears that he [Wilson] was also not formally employed by the CIA and given no tools to succeed. Whatever else you can say about his trip to Niger, it was not serious intel gathering. (�I say, sir, in return for this sweet mint tea, could you provide me with proof that you are smuggling uranium?�) While the circumstances surrounding his selection alone are not grounds for a scandal, the explanations given for it are....
Even if Wilson had had scores of secret agents and millions for bribes and unlimited time (and he had none of those) it is quite possible that he would have failed to uncover any Uranium smuggling plot. But people were so utterly hungry for an excuse to say "Bush lied" that they were happy to overlook the fishiness of it all. And Wilson's publishing in the NYT!...how often do officials go on missions at the behest of an Administration, and then immediately publish a report in a bitterly anti-administration newspaper? Doesn't that warrant some skepticism?

* Update from a reader: "I saw Wilson on Meet the Press today. Russert treated him with kid gloves. Nevertheless he came across as a glib, chip-on-the-shoulder mal-content looking desperately for his 15 mins of fame. Something is all wrong here. Why would Wilson be chosen for the Niger job? It makes no sense. If Cheney asked for the mission why wouldn't he follow up to see that someone qualified was on the case? In any case, Wilson answered the wrong question. True, there was no actual transaction, but the issue was whether Iraq was TRYING for a uranium transaction! Russert raised the question, but let him off the hook. And why would Wilson write that op-ed piece? Totally unprofessional except to an idealogue or a glory hunter."

Posted by John Weidner at October 5, 2003 3:31 PM
Weblog by John Weidner