If It Wasn’t Cheney or Valerie Plame, Who Sent Joe Wilson to Niger?

Rove, Scooter Libby, Ari Fleisher and others had an irresistable impulse to smear Joe Wilson simply because he dared to challenge them in public, and even though they and their Dear Leader were, in fact, wrong.

After President Bush was caught lying in his 2003 State of the Union speech about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities – the infamous “16 words” about Niger and yellow cake uranium – a Rovian blame game was contrived that successfully confused and blurred the responsibility for the falsehood in the minds of the media and the rest of us.

(Ultimately, the Administration laid the blame on Stephen Hadley, an assistant to Condi Rice, who was National Security Adviser at the time. In classic Bush fashion, rather than being punished, Hadley was promoted. He was given Rice’s job when she moved over to State.)

However, a secondary blame game also ensued that has still not been resolved – and that has now become a central issue in the investigation into the Bush CIA Leak scandal, according to the Washington Post:

The origin of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV’s trip to Niger in 2002 to check out intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase uranium has become a contentious side issue to the inquiry by special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald…

Over the past months, however, the CIA has maintained that Wilson was chosen for the trip by senior officials in the Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division (CPD) — not by his wife — largely because he had handled a similar agency inquiry in Niger in 1999. On that trip, Plame, who worked in that division, had suggested him because he was planning to go there, according to Wilson and the Senate committee report.

The 2002 mission grew out of a request by Vice President Cheney on Feb. 12 for more information about a Defense Intelligence Agency report he had received that day, according to a 2004 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. An aide to Cheney would later say he did not realize at the time that this request would generate such a trip.

Why does this matter? Because according to the article, several senior White House staffers are telling a story – to prosecutors, under oath – about how Wilson was tapped for the mission that differs from the story told by the folks who sent him on the mission.

We know the White House was trying to discredit Wilson’s assertion that Bush lied about the yellow cake in the 2003 SOTU – even though they eventually admitted Bush’s statement was wrong and blamed the error on Hadley.

Rove, Scooter Libby, Ari Fleisher and others had an irresistable impulse to smear Joe Wilson simply because he dared to challenge them in public, and even though they and their Dear Leader were, in fact, wrong.

They went to great lengths to smear him – and apparently may have even perjured themselves in the process.

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