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