Sunday, July 17

Wilson counters RNC Talking Points and Smears on CNN

From Democratic Underground:

The RNC has released talking points designed to take the media focus off of a White House breech of National Security.

In an interview with Soledad O'Brien, Joe Wilson exposes the false RNC claims by citing official sources.

Proof that Joe Wilson did not lie are readily available from news and government reports. Yet, corporate media continues to use RNC talking points at face value without any independent attempts to verify the facts.

The president said that he would fire anyone involved in leaking CIA information. Joe Wilson feels that the president should keep his word and fire Rove now.

Video in Windows Media format (7 minutes)

Transcript of Interview:

S. O'BRIEN: Now back to our big story out of Washington D.C. this morning. The outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Well, Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, now blasting White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for the leak. I got a chance to sit down and talk with Wilson about it on Thursday. And he began by saying he believes the information Rove leaked was classified.


JOSEPH WILSON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR: This has never been about Joe Wilson or even about Valerie Wilson. It has been about -- and it's never really been partisan. It has always been about whether or not somebody close to the president of the United States leaked classified information that compromised the identity of a covert officer of the CIA. And clearly, in the e-mail that Mr. Cooper, the "Time" reporter, sent to his boss, several days before the Novak article appeared, Mr. Rove had given him the name of my wife.

S. O'BRIEN: Republicans would say, those who are leading the charge against you certainly, would say he wasn't outing your wife. He was trying to correct -- and the word they would pick, I believe -- is a lie that you had in the op-ed piece that you wrote in the New York times where you, they would say, said that the vice president of the United States essentially sent you on this mission to Africa.

WILSON: Of course, I did not say that. And if you go back and you show the op-ed, what I say is that the office of the vice president had expressed an interest in this report, and that interest had generated my trip.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's a small chunk of it. In February, 2002, you write, "I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake, a form of lightly processed ore, by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990s. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office."

Couldn't a reading of that be, hey, you're insinuating that you're going on this trip at the behest of the vice president?

WILSON: Read it again. I think you'll see there's no insinuation in there at all. There's no saying the vice president sent me. It says the office of the vice president -- the office, not even the vice president. It was the vice president who later admitted that, yes, indeed he had expressed an interest in this matter. So it was the office of the vice president that expressed the interest and was trying to be responsive to a legitimate question affecting American national security. The CIA operations directorate asked me to go out and answer some of the questions that they still had about the allegation.

S. O'BRIEN: Explain how the trip to Niger came about. Who actually asked you to go?

WILSON: Well, it was CIA operations officers, the operations directorate. It came about after I attended a meeting at Langley.

S. O'BRIEN: Did it, in part, come about because your wife said, hey, you know, Joe, my husband, could go. He should do this.

WILSON: Let me just answer that by pointing out the CIA answered that question in July of 2003, shortly after the -- shortly after my wife's name had been compromised. On July 22nd, "Newsday" wrote that they had called the CIA, and the cia said that no, Wilson's wife was not involved in sending him to Niger. The CIA has said that repeatedly whenever asked since, including last year to David Ensor of this network.

S. O'BRIEN: Did you see Peter King? He was on TV.

WILSON: No, I did not.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me read you a chunk of what he had to say. He said, "Once she" -- that's your wife, Valerie -- "allowed him to go ahead and say that, write his op-ed piece in "The New York Times," to have Tim Russert give him a full hour on "Meet the Press," saying that he was sent there as a representative of the vice president, when she knew, she knew herself that she was the one that recommended him for it. She allowed that lie to go forward involving the vice president of the United States, the president of the United States, then to me she should be the last one in the world who has any right to complain." Which I guess is, to me at least, sounds like a long way of saying, she deserves what she got.

I believe Congressman King is ill informed. And I would go back to what I said earlier, and that is that the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed, and as a consequence, referred it to the Justice Department.

S. O'BRIEN: You know -- or maybe you don't, but my guess is you do know -- that the bar in these sorts of things, legally speaking, is quite high. The letter of the law, in order to be illegal, the disclosure must reveal the identity of a covert agent, must be intentional, must be made with someone with authorized access to classified information. They must be aware that the information disclosed will reveal the identity of the covert agent. They must know that the United States government was taking active steps to protect the identity of a covert agent. It's a pretty high bar. Do you believe that Karl Rove has done anything to the letter of the law illegal?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, I'm not a lawyer. And I believe that the last word on this will be Pat Fitzgerald, the special counsel. And -- but I'll go back to what I said earlier, and that is that the CIA certainly believed that a possible crime had been committed.

S. O'BRIEN: Was your wife at the time that she was outed a covert agent for the CIA?

WILSON: I'm not prepared to discuss that. What I'm prepared to tell you is that the CIA believed that she was a covert employee for the purposes of asking the Justice Department to investigate.

S. O'BRIEN: But isn't that kind of the critical $64,000 question? I mean, if she's not a covert agent, isn't the whole thing a wash anyway? Because revealing the identity of someone who's not covert...

WILSON: Well, that's an interesting question. You probably ought to better ask that to Pat Fitzgerald, the special counsel who's been investigating this for almost two years now.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. I'll take that as a no comment on that one.

If Karl Rove, in fact, is found to not have committed a crime by the letter of the law, do you expect at all that President Bush would fire him?

WILSON: I have no idea. My own belief, which I've articulated frequently, is that the president has said that he would fire -- and his White House spokesman has said that he would fire anybody who was involved in the leak. It's now clear that Mr. Rove had given Matt Cooper my wife's name four days before the Novak article appeared. In other words, before her identity was publicly compromised. I find what he did then and afterwards to be an outrageous abuse of power, and I don't believe that the president should keep him in the White House. I think he should fire him.


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