Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Greatest Liberal Lie Ever Told

By Doug MacEachern

Poor, pitiable Henry Waxman.

The end of the Bush (Hitler) administration is coming to a close, and still the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has not accomplished the defining mission of his life, which is to see Vice President Dick Cheney frog-marched in chains from the White House.

The Beverly Hills Democrat is still trying. Waxman has demanded White House records involving meetings between Cheney and his former chief of staff, Scooter Libby in which they discussed former CIA employee and Vanity Fair cover girl Valerie Plame and her implausibly famous husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
And he wants to see any notes President Bush might have written down as he prepared the 2003 State of the Union address that included the famous 16 words: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Unfortunately for Waxman, nobody really cares anymore.

The White House and the Justice Department really don't care. Bush has claimed executive privilege regarding any Cheney interviews, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey has "cooperated" by turning over a few redacted transcripts collected by former special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Waxman is fuming over Bush's refusal. But executive privilege as a tool of presidents has a lengthy history that rarely gets overturned by courts unless the matter involves a criminal investigation (see: Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton). Long after George W. Bush is gone, psychiatrists still will have the nation on a couch trying to figure out the "Plame Affair." My analysis is that it constitutes the best example available of the nation's search, once the Iraq war went bad, for an answer to the question, "How did the Dope dupe us?"

The hard answer, the one Henry Waxman, et al, will never accept, was that he didn't.

The invasion of Iraq didn't happen because New York Times reporters failed to ask tough questions of Bush in 2002 and 2003. But if you follow their coverage of Democratic demigod Barack Obama, you will notice that Times reporters still have tough-question issues.

It didn't happen because Bush characterized Saddam Hussein as "an imminent threat" - a phrase that (if you look really hard) you can track to obscure references by Condoleezza Rice and Cheney, perhaps once each. But not only did Bush not use such a phrase, he argued that the nation should not wait until a threat was imminent before it acted.

But the invasion did happen, in significant part, because the U.S. - and every intelligence service in the world that spied on Iraq - believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. We subsequently learned he did not have WMD . . . except for the 550 tons of yellowcake uranium recently shipped from Iraq to Canada, where it will be concentrated for use in nuclear reactors.

The uranium had been in Iraq since prior to 1991. It appears that the International Atomic Energy Agency knew about the uranium stash prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. And, in fact, a few reporters here and there have written about its existence since 2003. It wasn't really a secret (although, clearly, the Bush administration never used it as a response to its war critics). Rather, it was just a part of the WMD story that no one seemed interested in.

It didn't fit the template of a prewar Iraq that had completely dismantled its nuclear-weapons program since, with a bit of enrichment, the 550-ton yellowcake stash could provide Saddam enough material for dozens of nuclear weapons.

Where did it come from?

Do you suppose it came from . . . Niger?

That would be the country in Africa to which Bush almost certainly alluded in his 2003 speech.

It also is the country that Wilson visited, at the urging of his wife, Val Plame, who is on record dropping his name to fellow CIA officials as someone who might help knock down rumors that Saddam had sought yellowcake there.

So Wilson went to Niger and sipped sweet mint tea with former Nigerien officials he knew there.

Wilson came back and made competing claims about what he learned. In his infamous New York Times op-ed piece, he claimed his trip knocked down Bush's contentions about Saddam's interest in Nigerien yellowcake. But according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Wilson reported to the CIA that an Iraqi delegation had tried to buy 400 tons of yellowcake in 1998 and that another delegation had come knocking a year later. The Intelligence committee report identifies the leader of a 1998 delegation to Niger, as it happens. It was Wissam al-Zahawie, Saddam Hussein's top expert in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding his nuclear program.

But, alas, no one is really interested in yellowcake much anymore. No one but poor, ignored Henry Waxman.

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