The 16 Words that Won't Go Away

Oh dear oh dear oh dear…

[quote]Joe Wilson: Clueless Liar
By Christopher Hitchens
Slate | April 19, 2006

Nobody appears to dispute what I wrote in last week’s Slate to the effect that in February 1999, Saddam Hussein dispatched his former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and former delegate to non-proliferation conferences at the United Nations, to Niger. Wissam al-Zahawie was, at the time of his visit, the accredited ambassador of Iraq to the Vatican: a more senior post than it may sound, given that the Vatican was almost the only full European embassy that Iraq then possessed. And nobody has proposed an answer to my question: Given the fact that Niger is synonymous with uranium (and was Iraq’s source of “yellowcake” in 1981), and given that Zahawie had been Iraq’s main man in nuclear diplomacy, what innocent explanation can be found for his trip?

The person whose response I most wanted is Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who has claimed to discover that Saddam was guiltless on the charge of seeking uranium from Niger, and has further claimed to be the object, along with his CIA wife, of a campaign of government persecution. On Keith Olbermann’s show on April 10, Wilson was asked about my article and about Zahawie. He replied that Zahawie:

is a man that I know from my time as acting ambassador in Baghdad during the first Gulf War. … He was ambassador to the Vatican, and he made a trip in 1999 to several West and Central African countries for the express purpose of inviting chiefs of state to violate the ban on travel to Iraq. He has said repeatedly to the press, he’s now in retirement, and also to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to their satisfaction, that uranium was not on his agenda.

Once again, the details and implications of Zahawie’s own IAEA background are ignored (as they were in the IAEA’s own report to the United Nations about the forged Italian documents that were later circulated about Zahawie’s visit). In the same press interviews to which Wilson alludes (and which I cited last week), Zahawie went a bit further than saying that uranium was “not on his agenda.” He claimed not to know that Niger produced uranium at all! You may if you wish choose to take that at face value

Sounds like sour grapes that nobody’s responded immediately, sounding off with the shrill tones of a child who wants to have his dessert NOW! NOW! One could note that the bile ducts are working quite well on this man.

So apparently he feels that al-Zahawie was such a smooth operator that he was in Niger (a nation synonymous with “yellowcake” only in the months since Bush laid out his goofy claims based on fakey documents) to scout out something for Iraq’s non-existent WMD programs. It’s a bit like saying Hitchens must drive a 1904 Cadillac to work each day because somebody saw him in the vicinity of a car museum.

My guess is that, still nursing his wounds from having utterly miscalled the results of the Iraq invasion, he figures that a strong offense is the only route for him. Otherwise, he’ll be relegated to the dustbin as a merely eloquent but terribly flawed example of Bush’s noisiest supporters.

Hitchens is my latest idol. The man is a troll par excellence.

(And yes, that is meant to be a complement.)

Could it be because anybody with any brain knows better than to pay any attention to anything you write or say you effete snobbish git.

That was more than 16 words.

The Whitehouse has retracted all claims that Iraq sought Niger uranium ore. The CIA says no credible evidence exists. The British have refused to let anyone including the CIA see the evidence they say they have. The two uranium ore mines in Niger are run by a French mining company Areva. French intelligence closely monitors all shipments of uranium ore from both mines to customers in France, Spain and Japan. The government of Niger has denied Iraq sought to buy uranium ore from it.

It would have taken several tractor-trailers to truck useful amounts of yellowcake overland to seaports in Benin from landlocked Niger and then required ocean transport to a seaport in Iraq sandwiched between Kuwait and Iran, all without Areva, French intelligence, the CIA and the Mossad noticing anything.

Hitchens is hilarious when he screams about how Clinton is the worst liar on the planet. Man published his little slim volume on the topic, but years later he’s got his tongue tied on Bush. Funny, those Brits! In line with other “conservative” talking heads in the media biz, perhaps he could change his name to “Chris Wilsonhammer” or “Wolf Blitzer”.

He’s basically Coulter in a shiny, less caustic wrapper.

I don’t think he could dance.

Probably just a strict “don’t feed the troll” policy.

Don’t take it personal.

Just found this recent Christopher Bitchens gem:

[quote]Is Anyone Still Listening?
By Christopher Bitchens
Slate | April 20, 2006

STILL, nobody appears to have come forward to dispute what I wrote in last-week-plus-one-day’s Slate or even in yesterday’s Slate. Come on, now! I cannot believe that there aren’t some people willing to react to my shrill denunciations of a man whose already been punished for his lack of absolute loyalty to Our Leader with a good sucker-punching of his wife. NO REACTION?!?! Come on, it’s why I do it. Come on, throw me your tuppence! It’s what I LIVE FOR.

How about if I provide some links to South Park episodes? Would you be willing to throw me a bone, here?

Really. Tell me what I have to do to get you guys to comment on my loony pronunciations about Joe Wilson. Here’s a link to a nude photo of my lover. Nice, huh?

OK, that isn’t really my lover. I wish. It’s Rachel Hunter on a good day. Just comment, OK?

I just now took a 5 minute break to smoke a couple of cigarettes and to pee. I’ve come back to my computer and see that there are still no comments. WTF?!? What gives!?[/quote]

[quote=“mofangongren”]Hitchens is hilarious when he screams about how Clinton is the worst liar on the planet. Man published his little slim volume on the topic, but years later he’s got his tongue tied on Bush. Funny, those Brits! In line with other “conservative” talking heads in the media biz, perhaps he could change his name to “Chris Wilsonhammer” or “Wolf Blitzer”.

He’s basically Coulter in a shiny, less caustic wrapper.


Man, that is a rough picture of Coulter.


Christopher Hitchen’s real problem isn’t with one man, Joe Wilson. It’s with the entire U.S. intelligence community:

"United Nations inspectors had exposed the main evidence for the uranium charge as crude forgeries in March 2003, but the Bush administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair maintained they had additional, secret evidence they could not disclose. In June, a British parliamentary inquiry concluded otherwise, delivering a scathing critique of Blair’s role in promoting the story. With no ally left, the White House debated whether to abandon the uranium claim and became embroiled in bitter finger-pointing about whom to fault for the error. A legal brief filed for Libby last month said that “certain officials at the CIA, the White House, and the State Department each sought to avoid or assign blame for intelligence failures relating to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” . . .

At Cheney’s instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a “key judgment” of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.

In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate’s key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document. . . .

Iraq’s alleged uranium shopping had been strongly disputed in the intelligence community from the start. In a closed Senate hearing in late September 2002, shortly before the October NIE was completed, then-director of central intelligence George J. Tenet and his top weapons analyst, Robert Walpole, expressed strong doubts about the uranium story, which had recently been unveiled publicly by the British government. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, likewise, called the claim “highly dubious.” For those reasons, the uranium story was relegated to a brief inside passage in the October estimate.

But the White House Iraq Group, formed in August 2002 to foster “public education” about Iraq’s “grave and gathering danger” to the United States, repeatedly pitched the uranium story. The alleged procurement was a minor issue for most U.S. analysts – the hard part for Iraq would be enriching uranium, not obtaining the ore, and Niger’s controlled market made it an unlikely seller -- but the Niger story proved irresistible to speechwriters. Most nuclear arguments were highly technical, but the public could easily grasp the link between uranium and a bomb.

Tenet interceded to keep the claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department “fact sheet.” After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council’s reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

My goodness. How shrill we all are about this man and what he wrote. haha

Now, anyone denying that said Iraqi official visited Niger during that period? Anyone want to state that the British, French and Italians have backed off their claim (which has been proven) that he visited Niger to uh… do what exactly?

This should be good. Now, we really would like some proof. And Spook, while the CIA backed off the claim, they did so only because they could not have access to third-party intelligence as you and I both well know. The British are the source and they never backed off on it and continue to maintain it today. I think it was a mistake for Bush to retract that sentence. He said the British found out that and that is still as true today as it was three years ago.

Come on guys! Can’t you do any better than this. haha I love watching cornered rats. Behavior so unpredictably predictable. Entertainment value high score.

Is anyone denying that Christopher Hitchens drives a 1904 Cadillac to work?

The Iraqi official, Wissam al-Zahawie, visited Niger in 1999 and also visited three other African countries: Burkina Faso, Benin and Congo-Brazzaville. His name was on documents which have been proven to be forgeries listing attempts to buy 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger so there was clearly a disinformation campaign going on by someone.

While al-Zahawie may have discussed the purchase of uranium ore, the government of Niger denies it and it would have been virtually impossible to pull it off. There’s also no corroborative evidence of the claim.

British intelligence claimed it has evidence but won’t show it to anyone including the CIA and even the British Parliament is skeptical such evidence exists. It should be recalled that this is the same British intelligence which claimed it had evidence Saddam Hussein was able to deploy tactical weapons of mass destruction within forty-five minutes.

So Bush’s words are untrue on their face. Rather than:

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

:he should have said if he were interested in being truthful:

"British intelligence claims it has evidence that Iraqi official Wissam al-Zahawie sought to buy significant quantities of uranium ore from Niger when he visited there in 1999 but won’t show that evidence to anyone for corroboration, including the CIA. There is also clearly a disinformation and forgeries campaign going on by someone to make it appear as though Wissam al-Zahawie sought to buy uranium ore for the government of Iraq so that calls any evidence claims into question without at least some independent verification.

Our own intelligence services have concluded that it’s highly improbable that such an attempt occurred and it would have been nearly impossible to accomplish anyway given the facts of the Nigerien uranium ore mining industry."

Here’s another 16 words that won’t go away:


Erm, yeah, okay…perhaps he was just in Niger on vacation? Maybe for some golf?

Hitchens has been mostly right on all counts, including his subsequent misgivings about the Bush administration’s (utter and complete) incompetence. He never “called” the results of the war in Iraq.

You’re confusing style with substance. While I agree that Hitchens’ sometimes can be shrill, which I’ve found disenchanting as well, it’s amusing to see the piling on in this thread by the “anti-war” crowd, none of whom are able to give specific examples of where he is wrong in his arguments.

As a fan of Hitchens, I’ll still admit that I find his willingness to be associated with highly disturbing, even suspect. It sullies what he has to say by association, certainly.

Iraqi officials likely go wherever they can get away with going – given the sanctions programs and restrictions on their people, it seems pretty natural. What the heck is Taiwan doing in half the pacific-island dots that its officials visit? It’s because the ROC president can only show up in a few countries on this planet.

There’s an interesting account of the debate he had with Mark Danner, and I think the account seems straightforward enough. Check this link, which has the Salon article from Nov. 2003. Here are a few bits:

“Imminent”? Was Hitchens smoking crack?

Oh, the group that was operating in Kurdish Iraq, the part that was outside of Saddam’s control? Hmmm… :wink:

Oops. I guess he wasn’t right on this as well.

Well, and we saw how causing his fall with our “full control” of the situation worked out, didn’t we…

Woah, woah, woah! Stop the presses! You can’t even start to deal with all this malarkey without at least 2 different kinds of alcohol – one for a good stiff shot, and the other to disinfect your hands when you’re done.

The rest of the Arab and Muslim world did not necessarily erupt, but neither did we get the blossoming of anything really great throughout the rest of the Middle East. Iran is likely taking advantage of our pinned-down military to move their nuke program up a notch, learning from North Korea’s example that the U.S. only acts against weak tin-pot regimes.

"Proven wisdom

One of the most bizarre aspects of our current political debates is that the very people who were most glaringly and incessantly wrong about virtually everything prior to the invasion of Iraq are still held out as some sort of wise foreign policy experts. The converse of that distorted principle is that those who were most right about Iraq-related issues are still treated as subversive lepers who are unfit for decent company, as well as unfit to be heard in mainstream media outlets and television talk shows.

Few people, if any, were as right about the critical pre-invasion issues as Scott Ritter was. Back in September, 2002, Ritter was trying to tell anyone who would listen that Iraq had no WMD’s, and accordingly said:

'My country seems on the verge of making an historic mistake

Hitchens is a man madly grasping for all sorts of straws, including the one in which he says now that Bush is incompetent. Well, what did this numbnuts expect?

You don’t hand off a delicate antique watch to any doofus who comes along just because they’re one of a zillion folks who could observe that the watch’s hands aren’t moving. Diagnostic techniques may vary, but I’d run not walk away from the Bushian jackass who figures the best thing the watch needs is a good smashing.