I have now presented thousands of words of evidence and argument to the effect that, yes, the Saddam Hussein regime did send an important Iraqi nuclear diplomat to Niger in early 1999. And I have not so far received any rebuttal from any source on this crucial point of contention.
I'm no Plameologist nor do I drink enough to know where the two sides, science and booze, meet, but I'll go with Science sight unseen. The question Hitch poses is:
Given the fact that Niger is synonymous with uranium (and was Iraq's source of "yellowcake" in 1981), and given that Zahawie had been Iraq's main man in nuclear diplomacy, what innocent explanation can be found for his trip?
Aw, that's easy! <--- best Sir Robin voice. Clean water, Nigerian hats, rural electrification? What does this "Zahawie" have to say about it?
Wilson was asked about my article and about Zahawie. He replied that Zahawie:
is a man that I know from my time as acting ambassador in Baghdad during the first Gulf War. ... He was ambassador to the Vatican, and he made a trip in 1999 to several West and Central African countries for the express purpose of inviting chiefs of state to violate the ban on travel to Iraq. He has said repeatedly to the press, he's now in retirement, and also to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to their satisfaction, that uranium was not on his agenda...
Hitch really sticks in the knife here:
In the same press interviews to which Wilson alludes (and which I cited last week), Zahawie went a bit further than saying that uranium was "not on his agenda." He claimed not to know that Niger produced uranium at all!
Fantastic! The absinthe I mean.
And it's true that the two men [Wilson and Zahawie] knew each other during the Gulf crisis of 1990-1991. Indeed, in his book The Politics of Truth, Wilson records Zahawie as having been in the room, as under-secretary for foreign affairs, during his last meeting with Saddam Hussein. (Quite a senior guy for a humble mission like violating flight-bans from distant Niger and Burkina Faso.) I cite this because it is the only mention of Zahawie that Wilson makes in his entire narrative.
[Italics breathlessly in original]. Well apparently to a drunkard, this makes positively good sense, but as a non-drinker myself, I'm afraid I'm incompetent to address the conclusions to be drawn from there. Whatever the logic, and its awful, it has Hitch feeling good about War and supporting War, now that he has shown its righteousness, when discussing the latest Plame news:
As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy.
What a fucking War Pig. Now I remember why I hate Slate. Now I'm going to start hating Vanity Fair until they pull his tired ass off (and I thought I was outraged out). WOLCOTT'S ON THE INTERNETS NOW BITCHES!!!