The committee’s reference to “most analysts” referred to the CIA officials who were then pushing the Niger story and had latched on to this one inconsequential point. The committee report noted that “State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research analysts believed that the [Wilson] report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq.”
After the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, Wilson’s media enemies hurled the phrase “most analysts” against him, though it made no sense to blame Wilson for the fact that the CIA analysts who were wrong about the Niger-Iraq yellowcake suspicions outnumbered the State Department analysts who were right.
Indeed, the fact that the committee’s Republicans could push through this odd notion that a misguided majority somehow trumped an accurate minority shows how far the traditional concept of intelligence had drifted off course in George W. Bush’s Washington.
Committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, stood out as the most partisan leader to run the traditionally non-partisan intelligence oversight panel in its three-decade history.
Not satisfied with the slaps at Wilson in the full report, Roberts joined with two other right-wing Republicans, Christopher Bond and Orrin Hatch, to attach additional views to the report, asserting that Wilson’s criticism of the administration’s use of intelligence “had no basis in fact.”
A year later, on July 14, 2005, the Republican National Committee posted an article at the RNC Web site entitled “Joe Wilson’s Top Ten Worst Inaccuracies and Misstatements,” which relied on glaring inaccuracies and misstatements of its own to further undermine Wilson’s credibility.
The RNC’s list led off with what had become one of the GOP’s favorite canards, that “Wilson insisted that the Vice President’s office sent him to Niger.” But Wilson had never made such an assertion and not even the RNC’s own citations supported the accusation.
To back up its charge, the RNC stated, “Wilson said he traveled to Niger at CIA request to help provide response to Vice President’s office.”
That was followed by a quote from Wilson: “In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report. … The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the Vice President’s office.”
The RNC then quoted Cheney as saying, “I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson.”
But nothing in the comments by Wilson and Cheney were in contradiction. Wilson simply said CIA officials sent him on a mission because of questions from Cheney’s office. Cheney said he didn’t know Wilson. Both statements were true, yet the RNC juxtaposed them to support a charge of dishonesty against Wilson.
This talking point and similar ones then reverberated through the giant right-wing echo chamber, creating a widespread public impression that Wilson was a liar.
The drawn-out legal battle that arose from the Bush administration’s war on Wilson finally reached a head in fall 2005 after Fitzgerald forced many of the reporters who had received administration leaks to divulge what they knew.
Though Judith Miller never wrote about Plame’s identity, her conversations with Libby became central to Fitzgerald proving that Libby lied when he told FBI investigators that he first learned of Plame’s identity from Tim Russert.
After 85 days in jail for her refusal to reveal her source, Miller received from Libby what she regarded as an adequate waiver of her pledge of confidentiality. Even Libby’s waiver, however, suggested a conspiratorial relationship between the journalist and her source.