July 18, 2004

Joe Wilson Again

T McGee points out that I should give Joe Wilson some space to defend himself since I made a big deal below about his misleading statements. So here's his defense in Salon and his letter to the Washington Post, to present the other side.

It doesn't do much for me honestly. His claim that his wife had nothing to do with his selection to go to Niger has slowly morphed into a weaker one that "the decision to send me to Niger was not made, and could not be made, by Valerie" – but only after documents proving she recommended him have come to light.

He has admitted that he got "confused" when he talked to reporters and said that he knew the documents were forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong". Of course, when he said that he had never seen the documents – but he may have heard about them from news reports on the IAEA's findings. But no matter, it's perfectly acceptable to just get confused when making damning accusations about national security.

Finally, his claims about the veracity of the sixteen words in the SOTU were overblown to begin with, given that he only visited one country in Africa and, in fact, brought back some evidence that the Iraqis had "sought" uranium there. We now know from the Butler report that the British actually believed that uranium was sought in both Niger and the Congo, with an agreement potentially reached with the latter country.

Anyway, the point is that Wilson was the one making the strong claims about "lies" all those months ago, and despite the warm reception he got from the media then, he still needs to be held to a high burden of proof. Anyone who names his book The Politics of Truth should come under extra scrutiny as far as I'm concerned.

Update: Here's an article in the New York Times that sums up the African uranium question fairly well.

Another update: Michael Getler, ombudsman for the Washington Post responds to Wilson's letter.

Posted by richard at July 18, 2004 11:54 AM