Who is Joseph Wilson, anyway?
Part of never-ending non-story (in my humble opinion) uranium-Africa connection is the analysis and views of Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who the CIA sent over to Niger to check out possible link before the war. Wilson has said that there is no evidence of any sale from Niger and has offered his views on such unbiased mediums as the New York Times and Bill Moyers' show. Casper Weinberger had a good piece on Wilson, which if true, shows just how partisan this issue is:
Mr. Wilson was an outspoken opponent of our invasion of Iraq; he thought "a strict containment regime, backed by a threat of force" was enough to deal with a Saddam Hussein who had already violated all his surrender pledges to us at the end of the Gulf War and had violated 16 United Nations resolutions.I for one would like to hear more about Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson's "investigation" is a classic case of a man whose mind had been made up using any opportunity to refute the justifications for our ever going to war.
By his own admission he first consulted with our ambassador to Niger, who felt "she had already debunked" the report of Niger's attempted sale. Mr. Wilson then spent eight days "drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people." His conclusion: "It did not take long to conclude it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."
Because Mr. Wilson, by his own admission, never wrote a report, we only have his self-serving op-ed article in the New York Times to go by. He also noted that "Niger formally denied the charges." He said there "should be" documents reporting on his unwritten briefings and that there should be a written summary of his views to the vice president ("which may have been delivered orally"), but that he has never seen any of these reports."
Paul Krugman has a doozy of an article today (wonderfully entitled "Who's Unpatriotic Now?"... does he really want us to answer that?), in which he talks of the administration's attempts to discredit Wilson. Shockingly, Wilson's pre-war positions are not noted by Krugman. =)
I actually don't know if the administration is being too hard or not (and I am not going to trust Krugman to give me unbiased "facts"). But I will say that it seems that Wilson went on the offensive first and has gone out of his way to discredit the administration. He clearly went public with his opinions in print and on TV. So is it okay for him to do that and must the administration just sit around and take it? Let me cut to the chase... Wilson obvioiusly had a view about the war, it may have greatly influenced his review of the Niger situation and is going around telling us that the administration lied and he should be trusted. Well, some might believe him and some might not, but anyone who hears him or about him by reporters or writers (and that includes Krugman) ought to at least know the facts about him and his views.