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TNR: No Vindication For The White House On Niger:

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LiviaOlivia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 05:01 PM
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TNR: No Vindication For The White House On Niger:
Noam Scheiber's Daily Journal Of Politics

NO VINDICATION FOR THE WHITE HOUSE ON NIGER: The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House is claiming a measure of vindication from the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report suggesting it may have been reasonable to conclude that Iraq had tried to procure uranium from Niger:

Still, White House officials were quietly pleased to be able to claim even limited vindication. And some commentators and allies of the administration used the reports to question whether Mr. Bush's credibility had been unfairly impugned by the entire affair. Referring to Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, The Wall Street Journal's editorial page on Thursday said, "It now appears that both leaders have been far more scrupulous in discussing this and related issues than much of the media in either of their countries, which would embarrass the journalistic profession, if that were possible."

This kind of reasoning strikes me as preposterous. After all, the White House's line in the summer of 2003, after Joe Wilson's op-ed alleging the Niger charge to be bogus, was, as Condoleezza Rice put it, that "this particular line shouldn't have gotten in (to the State of the Union address) because it was not of the quality that we would put into presidential speeches." That is, the White House wasn't conceding it had been wrong about Iraq's efforts to purchase uranium from Niger. The White House wasn't even conceding that it had been unreasonable to conclude this from the available evidence. The White House was simply saying that, independent of whether or not Iraq had tried to purchase uranium, and independent of whether or not it was reasonable to think Iraq had tried to purchase uranium, the charge wasn't sufficiently well-supported to warrant inclusion in a State of the Union speech. And, unfortunately for the White House, there's nothing in the Senate report suggesting the administration's process for vetting the Niger claim was actually a lot more rigorous than Rice let on. Which means there's nothing in the report to vindicate the administration on this point. Live by the process defense, die by the process defense.

NOTE: See also Josh Marshall's detailed item about whether or not the Senate report vindicates the White House's uranium claim. Matt Yglesias has a slightly pithier take.

posted 4:10 p.m.

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