Sunday, September 03, 2006

An Open Letter To Daniel Schorr, NPR Senior Correspondent, RE; The Valerie Plame Affair

Dear Mr. Schorr:

It was with great interest that I listened to your Sept 3, 2006 commentary on Plamegate/ The Valerie Plame Affair / the CIA Leak Affair.

In this commentary you admit that the revelation of Ms. Plame's identity was not part of an vindictive administration plot, orchestrated as retaliation against her husband for his July 6, 2003 column, in which he criticizes the administration claims that Iraq was attempting to acquire yellowcake Uranium. I wonder if you are now willing to retract your previous accustaions against the adminsitarion.

You have stated repeatedly that Ambassaodor Joesph Wilson's Jul 6, 2003 article in the New York Times refuted the administrations case for war in Iraq. In fact the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported that Wilson's report buttressed the idea that Iraq was seeking Uranium from Niger.

  • The U.S. embassy in Niger issued a cable reporting that the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal warranted a hard look.
  • Valerie Plame suggested her husband travel to Niger to look into it.
  • A WINPAC analyst sent an email saying the results "from this source" will be suspect and not believable, but CIA decided to send Wilson anyway.
  • In February 2002, Wilson arrived in Niger and met with former officials of Niger (Wilson had stated in the editorial that this was by arrangment with the current Ambassador, who had already interviewed them).
  • On March 1, 2002 the CIA published an intelligence assessment, Niger: Sale of Uranium to Iraq is Unlikely, unrelated to Wilson's trip. This assessment was not provided to Vice President Cheney.
  • On March 8, 2002 an intelligence report based on Wilson's trip was disseminated. The report indicated the former Prime Minister of Niger had said no contracts to sell uranium to Iraq were signed during his tenure. However, an Iraqi delegation had approached him in June 1999 to discuss "expanding commercial relations." The Prime Minister took this to mean uranium yellowcake sales. The PM let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.

In addition while the State Department had doubts about whether Niger could and would supply Uranium to Iraq the CIA analyst believed it was possible.

CIA Iraq nuclear analyst said he had discussed the issue with his INR colleague and was aware that INR disagreed with the CIA’Sposition. He said they discussed Niger’s uranium production rates and whether Niger could have been diverting any yellowcake. He said that he and his INR counterpart essentially “agreed to disagree” about whether Niger could supply uranium to Iraq. The CIA analyst said he assessed at the time that the intelligence showed both that Iraq may have been trying to procure uranium in Africa and that it was possible Niger could supply it. He said his assessment was bolstered by several other intelligence reports on Iraqi interest in uranium from other countries in Africa.

The Butler Report also refutes Ambassador Wilson's claims regarding the "Sixteen Words" in the President's 2003 State of the Union Address

493. In early 1999, Iraqi officials visited a number of African countries, including Niger. The visit (This visit was separate from the Iraqi-Nigerien discussions, in the margins of the mid-1999 Organisation of African Unity
meeting in Algiers, attested to by Ambassador Wilson in his book “The Politics of Truth” (Carroll & Graf, NY 2004, p28).
was detected by intelligence, and some details were subsequently confirmed by Iraq. The purpose of the visit was not immediately known. But uranium ore accounts for almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports. Putting this together with past Iraqi purchases of uranium ore from Niger, the limitations faced by the Iraq regime on access to indigenous uranium ore and other evidence of Iraq seeking to restart its nuclear programme, the JIC judged that Iraqi purchase of uranium ore could have been the subject of discussions and noted in an assessment in December 2000 that:

. . . unconfirmed intelligence indicates Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium.
[JIC, 1 December 2000]

494. There was further and separate intelligence that in 1999 the Iraqi regime had also made inquiries about the purchase of uranium ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this case, there was some evidence that by 2002 an agreement for a sale had been reached.

495. During 2002, the UK received further intelligence from additional sources which identified the purpose of the visit to Niger as having been to negotiate the purchase of uranium ore, though there was disagreement as to whether a sale had been agreed and uranium shipped.

496. This evidence underlay the statement in the Executive Summary of the Government’s dossier of September 2002 that:

As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:
. . .
- tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
- sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it . . .

and in Chapter 3 of Part 1 of the Government’s dossier that:
The main conclusions are that:

. . .
- Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles which he regards as being the basis for Iraq’s regional power. He is determined to retain these capabilities;
. . .
- Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons,in breach of its
obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and in breach of UNSCR 687. Uranium has been sought from Africa that has no civil nuclear application in Iraq.


Iraq’s known holdings of processed uranium are under IAEA supervision. But there is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Iraq has no active civil nuclear power programme or nuclear power plants and therefore has no legitimate reason to acquire uranium.

497. In preparing the dossier, the UK consulted the US. The CIA advised caution about any suggestion that Iraq had succeeded in acquiring uranium from Africa, but agreed that there was evidence that it had been sought.

498. The range of evidence described above underlay the relevant passage in the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons on 24 September 2002 that:

In addition,we know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa,although we do not know whether he has been successful.

499. We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government’s dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House
of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

was well-founded.

So it appears that your Jul 13, 2005, Oct 31, 2005, and Nov 13, 2005 columns are in error.

In your Nov 13, 2005 piece you also stated that President Bush had claimed Iraq was an imminent danger to the US in his State of the Union Address. In fact what he said was:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

In other words specifically admitting that the threat was not imminent. Granted many claims about Iraq WMD programs turned out to be false, but that information had been developed over a period of 10+ years.

Finally there are your broadcasts of Jul 25, 2005, Oct 31, 2005, and Nov 6, 2005 in which you implied that administration officials were engaged in a coverup in the Plame affair. Particularly odious was your Jul 25, 2005 piece in which you implied that Alberto Gonzales was willfully derelict in his duties to allow administration officials time to destroy evidence.

In short you seem to have prejudged the case surronding the Plame affair and viewed the administration in the worst possible light with no benefit of the doubt. A light hearted "I guess Karl Rove didn't do it" without addressing these other issues hardly seems adequate.

Previous: The NY Times on Richard Armitage - Take 2

Update: Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute has noticed a similar attitude at the LA Times

Update #2: Michelle Malkin points to an Op-Ed by David Broder calling for the press to apologize to Karl Rove.

tags: Plame, Wilson, Libby, Armitage, Fitzgerald, Rove, CIA, WMD, Plamegate, Bush, Politics, Uranium, Powell

No comments:

Cybersecurity Reading List

@War: The Rise of the Military Internet Complex by Shane Harris 1984 by George Orwell 3D Printing will Rock the World by John Hornick A...