I know, that’s a tough competition. But today’s Associated Press story, breathlessly titled “Libby: White House ‘Superiors’ OK’d Leaks,” is definitely a contender.
From the headline, you might think that the story at least has some connection to the Valerie Plame “leak,” the second most over-hyped story of modern times, after Abu Ghraib. But no:
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2003.
The NIE is a report prepared by the head of the nation’s intelligence operations for high-level government officials, up to and including the president. Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance.
“Unclear”? How is it “unclear”? The NIE has been declassified since the summer of 2003, and we have quoted from it many times since then. These proceedings from the House of Representatives show that the NIE had been declassified no later than July 21, 2003. So it’s not exactly a mystery whether “that happened in this instance.” There are only two alternatives here: either AP reporters are too lazy to spend 30 seconds on Google to educate themselves as to what happened during the ancient history of 2003, or they write articles that are deliberately misleading.
By the way, the 2002 NIE was the document that indicated that the consensus of all American intelligence agencies was that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was a substantial threat to American security. No mention of that in the AP story, either.
UPDATE: A reader points out a whopper in this AP story that I didn’t notice:
Wilson’s revelations cast doubt on President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration’s key justifications for going to war in Iraq.
As probably all of our readers know, what Bush said in the 2003 State of the Union was: “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The difference between seeking uranium and successfully buying uranium is critical to the fact that Joe Wilson lied about the significance of his trip to Niger.
The reporting on this topic continues to be worse than awful.