Saturday, October 15, 2005

Can't tell the players without a program...

Can't know the story without knowing the players. Can't tell the players without a program...and Stephen Hayes piece at the Weekly Standard gives you all the background you could want on the Wilson/Plame affair.

Hayes walks us through the maze from the start to the present day, ultimately concluding (though stated early on) that the press version isn't necessarily the accurate version of events:

The narrative constructed to date by the mainstream media is uncomplicated: The White House exaggerated claims of Iraq's efforts to obtain uranium from Niger despite objections from the CIA and the broader U.S. intelligence community. In the late spring of 2003, Joseph Wilson laid bare this White House deception with firsthand accounts of his involvement in the intelligence-gathering. Bush administration officials quickly became obsessed with Wilson, and their anger drove them to retaliate, exposing Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, by leaking her identity to reporters.


Simple. Clean. And very misleading. The real story is considerably more complicated.

From there begins the blow-by-blow account of Joe Wilson's involvement in the whole affair and the United State's effort to weed out the truth of allegations that Saddam was buying yellowcake. The trail ultimately leads to one final and curious point:

...July 7, 2004. On that date, the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a 511-page report on the intelligence that served as the foundation for the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. The Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.

This is not a minor detail. The Senate report, which served as the source for much of the chronology in this article, is the definitive study of the events leading up to the compromising of Valerie Plame. The committee staff, both Democrats and Republicans, read all of the intelligence. They saw all of the documents. They interviewed all of the characters. And every member of the committee from both parties signed the report.

It is certainly the case that the media narrative is much more sensational than the Senate report. A story about malfeasance is perhaps more interesting than a story about incompetence. A story about deliberate White House deception is perhaps more interesting than a story about bureaucratic miscommunication. A story about retaliation is perhaps more interesting than a story about clarification.

But sometimes the boring stories have an additional virtue. They're true.

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