Monday, July 18, 2005

July 16, 2005

Tale of Two Lies

You may have heard – former US Ambassador Joe Wilson is a liar. That's why Karl Rove blew Wilson's wife's CIA cover, to warn reporters that Wilson's report that Saddam was not trying to buy uranium yellow cake from Niger, was a cooked up lie engineered by him and his bleeding heart liberal CIA agent wife.

I was skeptical. I mean this White House has been caught lying themselves so many times how could I take their charges against Wilson seriously. Of course it could be just as simple as, "it takes one to know one." But I was still not sure.

But then it dawned on me. The White House's full-court press to discredit Joe Wilson suffers two fatal flaws – lies actually -- and easily penetrated lies at that.

Lie #1
White House damage control teams are making the rounds of the talk shows claiming Wilson's report was not just wrong but a big cooked up lie. Okay, the next time one of these GOP hit men roll that charge out reporters need to follow up with this:

Q. So you say that Saddam was in fact trying to buy uranium yellow cake from Niger?

Liar. Yes, there is evidence that he was trying to acquire yellow cake from Niger and Wilson just ignored that evidence.

Q. And wasn't it Vice President Dick Cheney who repeatedly claimed that Saddam had reconstituted – had, not wanted to, but had reconstituted his nuclear program?

Liar. Well, I think a lot of people thougth Saddam had reconstituded. his nuclear program, not just the Vice President.

Q. And wasn't it the Vice President who asked the CIA to send someone to Niger to check out the yellow cake story?

Liar. Ah, yes, but it was Wilson's wife who suggested her husband be that person, not the Vice President.

Q. Okay, but then we attack and occupy Iraq and what do we discover? We discover, and it has now been confirmed, that Saddam dismantled his nuclear programs ten years earlier. We have not found a single piece of nuclear program related equipment or materials in the entire country. Which begs the question... and this is biggie... If Wilson was lying, as you guys claim, and Saddam was trying to buy tons yellow cake from Niger, can you tell us what he planned doing with it? Was he going to pile it in the Iraqi desert and let it bake, have his photo taken next to it? Was he going to sprinkle it from the air on the Kurds? Was he going to pave his palace courtyards with the stuff? Why on earth would he buy tons of stuff he had no use for it whatsoever?

See, there you have it. It makes no sense, even for a madman dictator, to buy tons of uranium yellow cake when he had no centrifuges, no processing facilities and no prospects of getting them. Doing so would not just be putting a cart before a horse, but buying a million carts for country that had no stables or horses -- at all.

Ask them that one the next time they claim Wilson was lying in his Niger report.

The fact that won't go away for the White House is that Wilson's report jived with everything we now know about Iraq and its non-existent WMD. They were just a facade, a figment of two mad-men's imaginations -- Saddam's and Dick Cheney's.

The "Wilson is a liar" offensive shows more clearly than anything this administration has done in the past the extent they go to save their own skins. It was known even before Bush used the Niger line in the State of the Union, that yellow cake story was based almost entirely on phony forged documents. Who cooked the documents up remains a mystery, but that they were phony was well known. Months before Bush used the line an Italian magazine pointed out that the official from Niger who's forged signature appears on the documents had been out office for years.

Nevertheless the Bush administration is still out there claiming it's Wilson who lied. These people are either the most shameless folks on earth or pathological sociopaths.

Who's really the liar in this case? Forgive me if I put my money on the square marked, "Liars with a track record."

Lie #2:
Here's another hole in the White House alibi the media has missed. It's a hole any reporter of any experience should have spotted right out of the gate.

Karl Rove wasn't on a mission to smear Wilson when he revealed to Matt Cooper of Time that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent. In fact Matt Cooper had called Rove for comment on a completely different story, something about changes in welfare laws. It was only at the end of that conversation that Rove brought the Wilson matter up "as an aside "at the end of that phone conversation – a kind of "Oh, by the way Matt....a friendly heads up."

That's their story, and they are sticking to it.

If I've learned anything after a quarter century of interviewing government sources its that when of them goes out of the way to make an "aside" that's way off subject, they are up to something, peddling something and/or planting a seed they hope I will water for them.

So, here was poor little chubby Matt Cooper working on a boring-ass welfare story and Rove hands him this sizzler, right out the blue. The Bush hit men want us to believe it was just a "friendly aside" -- a "throw away" line -- from ultra-savvy, serial hatchet man, Karl Rove. Give me a break.

If you are stupid enough to believe that, then you probably also believe Saddam was trying to buy tons of yellow cake he had no use for at the very moment the US was trying to convince the UN to let us blow his head off. Give me a second break.

The Big Why
Why? That's the question that hangs in the air. Why is this White House -- which has succesfully survived many lies -- so worried about this one? Why are they exposing themselves with such transparent and desperate follow up lies? Why are they pulling out all the stops to steer the focus away from the White House on onto Wilson?

Because, it's not Karl Rove they are trying to protect, it's Dick Cheney.

It was, after all, Cheney who had climbed the furthest out on the WMD limb to justify the war. It was Cheney who is on the record – and videotape – assuring the world that Saddam not only had chemical and biological weapons stacked up like cordwood, but had "reconstituted his nuclear program" as well. We know he has them, he said, we even have a pretty good idea where they are hidden.

Then we occupied Iraq and, lo and behold, no WMD. Then Joe Wilson fired off his New York Times editorial – "What I Didn't Find in Africa." Holy moly, the Niger story was Cheney's Gulf of Tonkin justification for war. With no nuclear facilities or gear surfacing in Iraq as Cheney had predicted before the war, the Niger caper was the final fig leaf covering the administration's false justification for war. And, to make matters worse, Chency had had it put in the State of the Union too boot. Now this guy Wilson was pulling the curtain back exposing Wizard Dick wildly flailing at the controls of the smoke machine.

What to do? If Cheney headed a New Jersey mob family the disloyal, ratting Wilson would have been whacked and found with a dead canary stuffed in his mouth. What we are witnessing now is the political equivalent of hit. If the attacks on hun and his wife get any more vicious they will qualify for the federal witness protection program.

But why did Bush get himself out on a limb by saying he would fire anyone who leaked a CIA agent's name to the press?

That's the easiest one of all to answer. Because Cheney cooked this all up with Rove when the Wilson editorial broke. Bush was not in that loop. (Maybe he was off riding his bike or busy trying to dislodge another would-be pretzel-assassin.) In any case, it was not a "need to know" detail to share with George.

Cheney told Rove to get the story out that Wilson and his CIA-agent wife were liars and therefore Wilson's report was not crediable. Robert Novak says he had two top administration sources for his story outing Wilson's wife. We now know Rove was one of those sources. Mark my words, Cheney's right hand man, Scooter Libby was the other one.

So, it's Cheney's chestnuts in the fire Wilson set. That -- and only that -- explains the ferocity of the attacks on Wilson and his wife. Remove Rove and Cheney from the administration and that leaves George, Forest Gump's evil twin, in running the show. And the Neocons know better than most that it would be only a matter of days before an un-mentored George would run amok.

But I don't want to leave this subject without a slap at Joe Wilson and his hottie spy-wife, Val. Both knew the stakes in this game. Both knew what was going to happen when Wilson decided to blow away the last shreds of the administration's WMD lie in his NYT op-ed piece. Wilson's one smart cookie. He's been around Washington a long time and he knew how the town works. He had – in his own words "earned his bones" playing high-stakes political poker with the likes Serbian and Iranian dictators. And so he knew how important perception was in the game.

So, why did the Wilson's agree to that embarrassing Vanity Fair photo shoot after the shit hit the fan? Jesus H. Christ that was dumb. I cringed when I saw that photo of two of them, mugging in their Mercedes convertible, trying with all their might to look like a modern-day Thin Man and Mrs. Thin Man. What were they thinking? It played right into the administration's claim they were just a couple of shamelss self-promoters. It was a dumb move. Really dumb.

But dumb is not the same as "liar." Wilson told the truth. And, for this administration, that's grounds for getting whacked.

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