A WSJ op-ed The Yellowcake Con: The Wilson-Plame “scandal” was political pulp fiction, on the British inquiry and the Senate Intelligence Report
the exhaustive British study found some flawed intelligence but no evidence of “deliberate distortion.” Inquiry leader Lord Butler told reporters that Prime Minister Tony Blair had “acted in good faith.”
What’s more, Lord Butler was not ready to dismiss Saddam Hussein as a threat merely because no large “stockpiles” of weapons of mass destruction have been found. The report concludes that Saddam probably intended to pursue his banned programs, including the nuclear one, if and when U.N. sanctions were lifted; that research, development and procurement continued so WMD capabilities could be sustained; and that he was pursuing the development of WMD delivery systems–missiles–of longer range than the U.N. permitted.
But the part that may prove most salient in the U.S. is that, like the Senate Intelligence findings, the Butler report vindicates President Bush on the allegedly misleading “16 words” regarding uranium from Africa: “We conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that ‘The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa’ was well-founded.”
. . . The Senate Intelligence Committee found, finally, that far from debunking the Iraq-Niger story, Mr. Wilson’s debrief was interpreted as providing “some confirmation of foreign government service reporting” that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger. Why? Because he’d reported that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki had told him of a 1999 visit by the Iraqis to discuss “commercial relations,” which the leader of the one-industry country logically interpreted as interest in uranium.
As the Journal puts it, “All of this matters because Mr. Wilson’s disinformation became the vanguard of a year-long assault on Mr. Bush’s credibility. The political goal was to portray the President as a “liar,” regardless of the facts. Now that we know those facts, Americans can decide who the real liars are.”