Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hyman's Dark Obsession (It Ain't With the Truth)

Mark Hyman’s preoccupation with Joseph Wilson is fascinating, if for no other reason than it simply brings up the broader bottom line issue of the lack of WMDs in Iraq. Yet, he’s so personally fascinated by Wilson that he can’t leave the topic alone.

In his recent editorial on the topic, Hyman elides a number of facts and says some demonstrably false things (no surprise there). Here is a brief rundown of the lies and distortions in his latest attack on Joe Wilson, with the relevant facts included afterward.

Valerie Plame sent her husband to Niger.

Baloney. Even die-hard administration apologists don’t claim this. They simply say that Plame recommended him for the job. She lacked any authority to send him. Nor is it ever stated why it would be relevant if she *had* been the one to send him. It’s a bit of rhetorical misdirection intended to suggest skullduggery without actually showing any.

Wilson wasn’t qualified to look into the Niger allegations.

False. In fact, there
was almost no one who could have been more qualified. Wilson had served extensively (and heroically) in Iraq, receiving lavish praise from President George H.W. Bush. He later went on to serve extensively in Africa. How many high ranking government officials could claim such extensive knowledge with both Iraq and Africa? Not many. Hyman tries to be cute by saying Wilson hadn’t physically been to Niger in 30 years; this ignores his longstanding familiarity with African affairs and his extensive contacts in the region.

Wilson “drank sweet tea” while in Niger.

This is a line quoted from Wilson’s own original op-ed piece about his trip that folks like Hyman like to take out of context to suggest that he didn’t do anything. Let’s look at the quotation in context:

“I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of
people: current government officials, former government officials, people
associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude
that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.”

In other words, Wilson’s extensive contacts allowed him to meet with key people in a variety of capacities, and these meetings suggested Iraq hadn’t tried to purchase uranium.

Plame wasn’t targeted by the administration because of what her husband said.

Hyman repeats, in a vaguely worded way, the new neo-con talking point that because Richard Armitage was one of the sources Robert Novak’s column revealing Plame’s identity as a CIA operative, that must mean Cheney, Rove, and Libby were not involved.

That, of course, is nonsense. Libby is under indictment for his role in the matter. We have Cheney’s handwritten notes on his copy of Wilson’s original op-ed asking to find out about Wilson’s background. We know that Rove *did* serve as a source corroborating Plame’s identity.

Outing Plame was not big deal.

Only if you think treason is no big deal. Without saying so specifically, Hyman’s comments imply that the revelation of Plame’s identity wasn’t that important. But Plame was an under cover operative who happened to be working on the issue of Iran’s attempts to obtain WMDs. What could be more important?

Wilson’s claims have been debunked.

On the contrary, it’s acknowledged that the documents alleged to have shows Iraq attempted to buy uranium from Niger
were forgeries. Not only that, but most in the American intelligence community suspected them long before Bush cited them in his State of the Union address.

Hyman lamely suggests “[Wilson’s] argument that the uranium purchase was untrue was debunked by the British government -- the source of the original intelligence.”

No it hasn’t. Notice that Hyman’s statement suggests that we now have proof that Iraq *did* make a uranium purchase. Again, he is going even further than the staunchest Bush apologists go.

Hyman is apparently referring to the Butler Report, the result of a British investigation that said that despite the fact that the documents suggesting the uranium sale were suspect, there was “good reason” to believe that Iraq had pursued such a purchase.

So even if we accept the Butler Report, all it says is that there were reasons to think Iraq might have tried to make such a purchase, not that it did make it. But more importantly, the Butler Report offers no evidence to back up this claim. In fact, American intelligence has largely discounted that any such purchase was attempted by Iraq at all.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what then-White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said:

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

Or Condi Rice, for that matter:

What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some
of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the
President's speech -- but that's knowing what we know now.

Bottom line: There were no WMDs or active WMD programs in Iraq.

All of the Wilson bashing ignores the obvious and embarrassing truth that even the president himself has acknowledged: Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction, nor did it have any active programs to create them. In particular, there was no reconstitution of any nuclear weapon program after the first Gulf War.

This is the gorilla in the room that the neo-con crowd like to ignore. Wilson was right. There was no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program, let alone evidence of them actively pursuing nuclear materials from Africa. American intelligence knew this, yet the Bush administration pieced together shreds of shaky, if not utterly false, evidence and sent poor Colin Powell to the U.N., where he performed an act of career self-immolation by pitching the case to the world.

Since then, more than 2,600 Americans have died in Iraq, and ten times that number have been maimed in both body and mind. And for what? We were told we had to send them to Iraq to quash the threat of a possible nuclear attack on us by Saddam Hussein, an attack we had no reason to think would ever come, as it turns out.

Yet rather than be incensed at the colossal mistakes made by a president who promised to be humble in his foreign policy and had criticized the idea of “nation building,” neo-cons and die hard Bush supporters have abandoned all classically conservative principles, including supporting our military, in favor of showing fealty to a president who abandoned any sense of personal responsibility to the truth or to the troops long, long ago.

And for that matter, so has Hyman.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 5.94


At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted and Co.:

A bit off-topic, but you all might "enjoy" this:

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Wow, that's a classic. Definitely something to bookmark!

Thanks for the find!



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