What did he know?

James S. Robbins on Joseph Wilson and the Niger “scandal”; is it perhaps slightly, infinitesimally possible, that Wilson was not told the whole truth on his fact-finding mission?

There may have been a secret side to it a side he may have been oblivious to that has not yet been reported. It hardly seems credible that Wilson could have single-handedly investigated every aspect of the Niger-Iraq connection spending “eight days drinking sweet mint tea” and talking to people. If Niamey were nurturing such a relationship with Baghdad it surely would have been highly secretive. Uranium trade with Iraq was illegal after all; you could not expect to get a straight answer from anyone involved in it. Moreover, the wounds of 9/11 were still fresh, and this was only a few months after Coalition forces had swiftly overthrown the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. What country was going to freely admit to selling illegal WMD material to the only ruler in the world who openly praised the attacks on the Twin Towers? As noted, Wilson came away with no evidence that the 1999 uranium sale had taken place. But over the last few months, particularly since Wilson’s New York Times piece, this very narrow finding has been taken as proof that Iraq never even tried to obtain uranium. That was not the question Wilson was sent to Niger to answer, and his investigation certainly never came close to being that thorough. Yet the press reflexively cites this brief visit as the basis for the definitive answer on the entire Niger uranium controversy.

Advertisements