Friday, November 04, 2005

I've never understood why Republicans keep harping on Joseph Wilson's credibility when nobody relies solely on his version of events to make their case. Or, more accurately, I know why they do it, and the real question is why they don't see that it's comically unnecessary. If they want to parse his words and decide he's only telling the truth 75% of the time, that's fine. War critics don't need Wilson to be a star witness, and no prominent Democrat has used him as such in a long time. There's such an abundance of embarrassing evidence against the White House that Wilson's story is really just a few more bones on the pile.

Yet Republicans and their media friends have never stopped trying to make him out to be some kind of killer zombie. The whole operation smacks of frothing Republican paranoia whenever Hillary Clinton is mentioned. Once they find a target for their scorn -- usually someone who wants better health care for senior citizens -- no story is too fantastic, no atrocity is too unimaginable. They ascribe superhuman abilities and evil spellcasting powers to people who, when viewed objectively, haven't really even got that much to do with the issue at hand. Wilson may enjoy having his picture taken -- his fashion sense is impeccable -- but this is somehow supposed to make him a poof and a treasonous gadfly?

The point is not to defend Wilson -- the point is that Republicans are wasting their time attacking him, and to get mired in every nook and cranny of the historical and legal record is to play the GOP's game. (Or, for that matter, the literary record, as this unintentionally hilarious Freerepublic post on Wilson and 1984 illustrates. If you've been looking in vain for an instance of the line "Not so fast, computer-breath," your search is over.) The White House shouldn't get away with its spin, but the Republicans are the ones dragging out his fifteen minutes of fame while events continue to develop past them. Anything Wilson said that turned out to be mistaken pales in comparison to the newly emerging facts:
An article in the 25 October, 2005 edition of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica indicates that Wilson's statements about Niger were correct. The article claims that Nicolo Pollari, head of the Italian Intelligence Service, SISMI, knew the Nigerien documents were forgeries, but tried to go around the CIA to get them into the public eye in the US. The documents contained several misspelled French words and contained signatures from Nigerien officials who hadn't even been in office at the time they were signed.

La Repubblica also claims that Pollari met with Stephen Hadley, previously the Deputy National Security Advisor, on 9 September, 2002, to discuss the documents without going to the CIA, who had reservation about the documents. That date was before the speech given on 7 October, 2002, when Bush specifically claimed uranium was sought from Niger.

What is the Republican response to this?

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (AFP) - US President George W. Bush dismissed his slumping popularity and declined to say whether he would fire his top political aide, Karl Rove, over a CIA leak scandal.

"The investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete. And therefore, I will not comment about him and/or the investigation," Bush told reporters on the sidelines of a 34-nation Americas summit here. "It's not yet over."

And indeed it's not. If they keep pretending Joseph Wilson is the center of their problematic universe, it never will be.


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