One question down

Last night I posted “Two questions for George Tenet,” linking to Herbert Meyer’s American Thinker post posing the questions. Here is the second of Meyers’s two questions:

• When Joe Wilson started blabbing in public about his CIA mission to Niger – and lying about what he reported to the CIA upon his return – why didn’t you say something rather than allow the President’s credibility to be shredded?

Alec Rawls of Error Theory responds:

Tenet did rebut one of Wilson’s lies at the time Wilson originally made them in the Spring of ’03. Five days after Wilson’s NYT op-ed, Tenet put out a statement describing how the person the CIA sent to check out the Niger story found that the Iraqis had indeed tried to open up trade talks, which were interpretted by government officials in Niger as an attempt to purchase uranium ore. Tenet left the name of the person the CIA sent to Niger out of his statement, possibly to avoid running afoul of secrecy laws, but since Wilson had already outed himself as the person the CIA sent to Niger, it was perfectly clear who Tenet was talking about. I link to Tenet’s statement near the top of a post I wrote Wednesday about Wilson’s Tuesday speech at the National Press Club speech (a scandal in itself): “Wilson lies, press club laughs.”

Tenet’s statement began with the famous retreat: “These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.” That garnered all the attention, as the press immediately began reporting, in a blatant misrepresentation of Tenet’s remarks, that the intelligence had been admitted to be “false.” Tenet’s exposure of Wilson as a liar got almost no coverage, presumably because the failure to mention Wilson’s name gave the press an excuse to pretend that they didn’t know who Tenet was refering to. Not until the Senate Intelligence Committee report came out in 2004 did Tenet’s rebuttal get attached to Wilson’s name. Still today, almost no one knows that Tenet exposed Wilson as a liar at the time. It would have been nice if Tenet had exposed Wilson’s other lies too — Wilson’s lie that he had exposed the forged documents as forgeries when he went to Niger, eight months before the forgeries had even come into U.S. possession, and the lie that Cheney’s office had sent him on the trip to Niger–but at least Tenet did expose one of Wilson’s lies at the time.

Almost no one seems to know this. I posted an article about it at the time, and Just One Minute noted last year that Tenet had exposed Wilson in 2003. Those are the only mentions I have seen of Wilson’s immediate exposure as a liar. The media knew about it. They all read Tenet’s statement. They just didn’t want other people to know.

Tenet’s 2003 statement is here. Just One Minute’s 2004 post is here. My 2003 post is here.


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