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View Diary: Is it possible the INR memo is a red herring? (140 comments)

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  •  Condi (4.00)
    is in on it. If this has been posted somewhere else, I apologize, but there is so much out there it's hard to keep track. Excellent diary, emptywheel.

    In the July 11 2003 press gaggle Condi talks about getting the NIE declassified. Remember, Rove was also talking about information that was going to be declassified soon.

    DR. RICE: But let me just go through the process, because it's not at all unusual. We have several intelligence agencies, not just one. We have the Central Intelligence Agency, a Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department has its own intelligence agency. And there is a process which the Director of Central Intelligence, who is the coordinator for all of those agencies, runs which is called the National Intelligence Estimate. The National Intelligence Estimate is supposed to come to a conclusion that is the considered, joint opinion of all of those intelligence agencies. If at the end of that process, a particular agency still has a reservation, they take a footnote. And so the INR took a footnote in this case.

    Q But it's in the Estimate?

    DR. RICE: It's in the Estimate. It's, by the way, in another section, but it is in the Estimate. But the DCI is responsible for delivering a judgment, a consensus judgment of the intelligence community, which is called the National Intelligence Estimate. And that's what the President --

    Q Is there a chance that that particular citation could be declassified, so we could see it?

    DR. RICE: You know, we don't want to try to get into kind of selective declassification, but we're looking at what can be made available.

    She also said, on that same day, July 11, 2003, that she had seen Joe Wilson "a month ago" on TV talking about it:

    DR. RICE: No. In fact, we had a much more extensive discussion of how to characterize the aluminum tubes, frankly. I mean, that was a much more extensive discussion, because we had -- we had a real debate going on about IAEA and the Department of Energy and so forth. That we discussed in some depth. This we did not.

    Q Dr. Rice, when did you all find out that the documents were forged?

    DR. RICE: Sometime in March, I believe. Is that right?

    MR. FLEISCHER: The IAEA reported it.

    DR. RICE: The IAEA reported it I believe in March. But I will tell you that, for instance, on Ambassador Wilson's going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House. And you should ask the Agency at what level it was known in the Agency.

    Q When was that TV show, when you learned about it?

    DR. RICE: A month ago, about a month ago.

    A month ago? Want to re-think that answer, Condi? Had Joe Wilson been on TV a month before? Also, look how she's pushing them to ask the agency about Wilson - out of nowhere, not even part of the question.

    Great bass - Lesh filling.

    by Glic on Thu Jul 21, 2005 at 01:30:38 PM PDT

    •  Wilson (none)
      I think Wilson appeared on CNN close to the beginning of this. That's how Kristof knew to call him.

      This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

      by emptywheel on Thu Jul 21, 2005 at 01:34:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was Condi pushing reporters to the Niger story? (4.00)
      check this out from a reader blog at TPM Cafe:

      http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/7/20/16340/8649

      Press gaggle transcripts show that it was Condoleezza Rice, not Ari Fleischer, who was pushing the press to look into the reasons the CIA sent Wilson to Niger.

      As it has been discussed, Fitzgerald's office is keenly interested in the State Department memo, distributed in the days leading up to the Novak article, disclosing that Wilson's wife had something to do with sending Wilson to Niger. The LA Times July 18, 2005 story discusses how there is interest in whether Ari Fleischer was pushing the story to reporters before the Novak article appeared.  

      The LA Times July 18, 2005 articles ends with:

      "And Fleischer also seemed attuned to a strategy of discrediting Wilson. Two days before Novak revealed Plame's identity, Fleischer questioned the former envoy's findings in remarks to reporters during a trip with Bush in Africa.

      The transcript of that press gaggle (the term for an informal question-and-answer between reporters and the White House spokesman), which took place in the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, has been requested by the prosecutors."

      The transcript of the July 12, 2003 press gaggle reveals no reference to the Wilson matter. Fleischer may have been pushing the story in his July 7, 2003 gaggle. (See text of his Wilson reference in the July 7, 2003 gaggle below).  But a key exchange on the Wilson trip did occur in the July 11, 2003 press gaggle aboard Air Force One with both Ari Fleischer and Condoleezza Rice and it wasn't  Ari pushing the Wilson story.

      The transcript of the July 11, 2003 press gaggle has this interesting exchange:

      Q Dr. Rice, when did you all find out that the documents were forged?
      DR. RICE: Sometime in March, I believe. Is that right?
      MR. FLEISCHER: The IAEA reported it.
      DR. RICE: The IAEA reported it I believe in March. But I will tell you that, for instance, on Ambassador Wilson's going out to Niger, I learned of that when I was sitting on whatever TV show it was, because that mission was not known to anybody in the White House. And you should ask the Agency at what level it was known in the Agency.
      Q When was that TV show, when you learned about it?
      DR. RICE: A month ago, about a month ago.
      Q Can I ask you about something else?
      DR. RICE: Yes. Are you sure you're through with this?

      [The exchanges go on to issues unrelated to who sent Wilson on his trip]

      In reading the whole transcript you'll find that no reference to Wilson had been made before Condi brings it up.

      So Condi uses a barely-related question to bring up the issue about why Wilson was sent to Niger.  She offers the news that he was not sent by the White House and then literally prods the reports to go ask the CIA why he was sent.  

      Then, when a reporter tries to change the subject she prods the reporters to ask more with: "Are you sure you're through with this?"

      Did Condi see the memo and join (maybe even start) the effort to "out Wilson" on why he got the job?  If Fitzgerald is looking into conspiracy issues, even Condi may be in trouble.

      Do we know whether Condi has given testimony? I have heard nothing about it.

      Also, the following is the text of Fleischer's reference to the reasons for Wilson's trip at the July 7, 2003 gaggle:

      Q Can you give us the White House account of Ambassador Wilson's account of what happened when he went to Niger and investigated the suggestions that Niger was passing yellow cake to Iraq? I'm sure you saw the piece yesterday in The New York Times.

      MR. FLEISCHER: Well, there is zero, nada, nothing new here. Ambassador Wilson, other than the fact that now people know his name, has said all this before. But the fact of the matter is in his statements about the Vice President -- the Vice President's office did not request the mission to Niger. The Vice President's office was not informed of his mission and he was not aware of Mr. Wilson's mission until recent press accounts -- press reports accounted for it.
      So this was something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events, where they sent him. But they sent him on their own volition, and the Vice President's office did not request it. Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect. Text to go inside the quote box

      •  July 12 2003 Press Gaggle (none)
        "The transcript of the July 12, 2003 press gaggle reveals no reference to the Wilson matter."

        There's LOADS of information referring to Joe Wilson in the Press Gaggle:

        MR. FLEISCHER: Let me explain to you the President's thinking on this. A greater, more important truth is being lost in the flap over whether or not Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. The greater truth is that nobody, but nobody, denies that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. He was pursuing numerous ways to obtain nuclear weapons. The United States never said that he had nuclear weapons. We have said that he was pursuing them. It should surprise nobody that Saddam Hussein was seeking to acquire the means to produce from a variety of sources and a variety of ways.

        He had previously obtained yellow cake from Africa. In fact, in one of the least known parts of this story, which is now, for the first time, public -- and you find this in Director Tenet's statement last night -- the official that -- lower-level official sent from the CIA to Niger to look into whether or not Saddam Hussein had sought yellow cake from Niger, Wilson, he -- and Director Tenet's statement last night states the same former official, Wilson, also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official, Wilson, meet an Iraqi delegation to discuss expanding commercial relations between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales.

        This is in Wilson's report back to the CIA. Wilson's own report, the very man who was on television saying Niger denies it, who never said anything about forged documents, reports himself that officials in Niger said that Iraq was seeking to contact officials in Niger about sales.


        What did the President say in the State of the Union? He said: according to British reports, Iraq is seeking uranium from Africa. And the intelligence cited two other countries, in addition to Niger.

        So, again, the larger truth, was Saddam Hussein a threat, in part because he was seeking nuclear weapons, in addition to what we know and have said about chemical and biological.

        Now, if you ask, how is the President approaching this, what's the President's approach, the President sees this as much ado, that it's beside the point of the central threat that Saddam Hussein presented.

        WOW! Did Fleisher say that Wilson lied to the CIA in his report to them?

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