Sometimes an article comes along that is so good and so comprehensive and so…well…perfect…that there is no way for a blogger to whittle it down and pull out the salient points and provide commentary.
Murray Waas has just published the magnus opus on the Plame Afair. It’s long, but everyone should read it.
Waas reveals the basic outlines of a much larger conspiracy. A conspiracy within which Valerie Plame played a relatively minor part.
And it all goes back to the those dreaded aluminum tubes. Let’s get in our time machines and go back in time to September of 2002. The decision to invade in Iraq was probably made in April of 2002, but it was in August that the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed. And they formulated the public relations strategy that would set the nation on a course for preemptive war. The media campaign began immediately after Labor Day. When Matt Miller, of the New York Times, asked chief-of-staff Andrew Card why they had waited until after Labor Day, Card responded with his infamous:
“From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
Things got rolling on September 8, 2002, when Michael Gordon and Judith Miller published “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts”. That same day Rice, Powell, and Rumsfeld went on television and cited Gordon and Miller’s article as justification for taking a tough line on Iraq. The article stated:
In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium…The diameter, thickness and other technical specifications of the aluminum tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that they were meant for Iraq’s nuclear program, officials said, and that the latest attempt to ship the material had taken place in recent months. The attempted purchases are not the only signs of a renewed Iraqi interest in acquiring nuclear arms. President Hussein has met repeatedly in recent months with Iraq’s top nuclear scientists and, according to American intelligence, praised their efforts as part of his campaign against the West.
Yet, according to Waas’s article, Bush was informed that there were severe doubts about the nuclear purpose for the tubes with days of this article’s appearance:
In mid-September 2002…Tenet informed him that both State and Energy had doubts about the aluminum tubes and that even some within the CIA weren’t certain that the tubes were meant for nuclear weapons, according to government records and interviews with two former senior officials.
Official records and interviews with current and former officials also reveal that the president was told that even then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had doubts that the tubes might be used for nuclear weapons.
Then, in early October something happened that would become very significant once no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. The President received a one-page National Intelligence summary that explictly informed him:
“…that the Energy Department and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were “intended for conventional weapons…”
So, by early October, the President had been informed by George Tenet about the