Bush Critic Contradicts 'Downing Street Memo' Charge -- 06/17/2005
BG: Joe Wilson: maybe not the best spokesperson for impeachment. GOP'ers are going nuts with this, and they deserve to make their point. Wilson must not be paying attention.
If you follow the probable timeline, and read the interview (excerpts follow) from 2004, you'll find that it perfectly consistent for Wilson to think the yellowcake memo was forged (and an explicit part of the 'fixing the facts' support the war), and at the same time Wilson / Plame had a strong historical of assuming the worst about Saddam. Wilson also state in the interview below, that he sees the Bush advisors / staff as the one feeding "W" the bad info for the SOTU speech. I think Wilson is just not up to what really happened, or there is some reason for him to not be honest.
aA: Do you talk with any high-ups in the Republican Party about what has happened over the last year?
jW: Most of my close friends are Republicans. I served both Republican and Democratic presidents. In fact my first ambassadorial appointment was with a Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush. I believe in our democracy, I don’t believe that either party has a monopoly on wisdom. That said, it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for a Republican in the future.
People have a tendency to regurgitate whatever they’ve last heard and to give equal credence to untruths as they do to truths. And they it becomes a he-said-she-said and that is part of their effort. People should go back and read the portion on Niger in the body of the report.
There’s another quote from September. A CIA analyst quotes an NSC guy as saying “We have to leave this assertion in Presidential speeches and documents, otherwise we will leave the British flapping in the wind.” If that is not the political use of intelligence, then I don’t know what is.
aA: The WSJ suggested that if your wife actually helped you get the job, then it would have been more legitimate to reveal her role in this whole controversy, on background, perhaps.
jW: First of all, it’s incorrect. On July 22 of 2003, a week after the Novak article appeared, the CIA was actually questioned about my wife’s role. The CIA spokesman, speaking on background, said that it was her colleagues and coworkers who suggested me. All she did was provide a one-sentence paragraph of my curriculum vitae. My bona fides were established in 1999. Other than serving as a conduit, she had no substantive role in the decision that was made to send. This is a classic case of shooting the messenger because you didn’t like the message he brought back.
aA: What changes has all of this brought into your life?
jW: My friends all understand…and I think most of the American people understand. No WMDs have been found, there is no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. In fact on June 17th, which was three weeks before my opinion piece appeared, the CIA issued a final report saying there’s nothing to this. I have no doubt whatsoever that as the facts become understood, they will overwhelm this partisan smear campaign based on lies and distortions.
aA: Are you at all related with the Kerry campaign?
jW: I have sat as an unpaid foreign policy adviser on the foreign policy committee that advises the campaign. I’ve also spoken on behalf of the senator as a surrogate, and I’ve raised some money for the senator. I don’t have a paid position in the campaign – I’m not a staffer.
aA: There are many who point to this affiliation and your new book as evidence that your statements are for personal gain…
jW: I understand that. In terms of the publication of the book, the President himself has said that he wants to run on his record, and I wanted that book to reflect one individual’s assessment of that record. And there’s nothing wrong with that…this is a political season. The war on Iraq was a disaster, clearly carried out under false pretences. And it’s not just me, it’s the Senate Committee report itself, and it’s the 9/11 Commission report that make the case that there was nothing substantive underpinning the allegations that there were WMDs that posed a grave and gathering danger to the United States, or that there were operational ties to Al-Qaeda. It’s a key piece of information that makes the point – the CIA told the Senate and the CIA told the White House: do not use this information…do not be a witness of fact on this.
It’s going to be a hard-fought battle. I think it’s lamentable that these people who have launched this smear campaign against me…since they can’t win on the facts, they’ve decided to engage in a broadside character assassination campaign. Remember, the one person whose name has never been known is the person who put the sixteen words in the SOTU address. They have vilified me, they have vilified my wife, but the person who put the lie in the SOTU address has never been named.
aA: You, Sandy Berger, Dick Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Shinseki, it’s quite a list of people who’ve fallen out of favor.
jW: I think it’s absolutely vital that Americans stand up and say “Enough of this character assassination. Let’s discuss issues based on fact.” I have every expectation that Clarke will be vindicated, that I will be vindicated, Paul O’Neill has been largely vindicated. I think it’s time for the people and the press, in particular, to be more vigilant about not giving equal weight to lies as they give the truth.
aA: One phrase used by your detractors is that you’re ignoring a central tenet of intelligence – that the absence of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean evidence of absence. That just because you didn’t find anything doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything there.
jW: I don’t believe that “evidence of absence indicates the absence of evidence” is a clear enough rationale for war. I would argue that it is a clear enough argument for robust diplomacy and intelligence and subversion. I think it’s important to understand that war must be the last option, because of all the costs and unintended consequences, not to mention the morality and legality of engaging in things like preventive war.
aA: Did you support the war in Afghanistan?
jW: I did, absolutely, and I supported the first Gulf war.
aA: Can I ask what your wife is doing right now? Has she left the CIA?
jW: She hasn’t left the CIA, but is taking a leave. I don’t know if she’ll ever go back or not. It’s very difficult to do your job when your name is so published.
aA: How are the book sales going?
jW: They’re doing very well. I have every expectation that there will be another flurry. Part of this campaign is just pure revenge and spite. I say things about Ed Gillespie that aren’t very flattering…they happen to be true. I also say things about Novak which happen to be true.
aA: For those who think that Bush lied, your statements were seized by the left as the ultimate proof…
aA:…so now that doubt has been cast on these sixteen words, there are many on the right who say that this destroys the left’s argument that Bush lied.
jW: The White House spokesman said that the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the SOTU address. This government has said to all Americans in this campaign that if you stand up and say the emperor is wearing no clothes on this issue, your government will do this to you and your family. So therefore be very afraid. Well I’m not afraid.
I still do believe that the WMD issue was an important issue for us to be vigilant about. But the regime change as an objective of military action was fraught with danger. It was always the highest risk-lowest reward program.
Now that’s separate from whether or not the President misled the country, deliberately or not deliberately. I have no reason to think that he did anything other than read the words that the White House all agreed should be in there. So I’ve never called the president a liar – what I’ve said about the president is that, in my judgment, he has proven time and again to be far more protective of his senior staff than they have been of him.