July 14th, 2005

China Buying Up US Companies?

There's been a lot of controversy over the threat of China buying up US companies lately. Most of the arguments are a bit flimsy though. This is the real reason to be concerned: Foreign ownership of Chinese steel mills will be barred. China continues to heavily restrict outside investment in Chinese companies, yet they want a free hand to invest in US companies. China needs to be told that their investment in the US must be reciprocated by lifting restrictions on US investment in Chinese companies. It is only fair that they need to play by the same rules in both cases.

Debunking RNC Talking Points on Rove/Plame

Thanks to akibare who pointed me to a leaked copy of the RNC Rove/Plame talking points. As I suspected, it's a mish-mash of half-truths and deceptions. Let's examine some of them.

"Once Again, Democrats Are Engaging In Blatant Political Attacks"

Wait a minute here! Are we talking about the same Democrats? The Democrats I've seen haven't been able to muster up a mild criticism, much less a political attack. And to remind you, President Bush was the one who said he'd fire whoever was responsible for the leak. I guess he was politically attacking the Republicans too?

"Rove Discouraged A Reporter From Writing A False Story"

However, the fact that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and played a small role in organizing his trip was way more information than was needed to refute the story. And again, at least four reporters were told the same thing, it was more than just "A Reporter".

"Assessments Wilson Made In His Report Were Wrong"

Weaseling. The report may not have been 100% correct, but it was mostly correct. On the other hand, the administration's contention that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger was indeed 100% wrong.

"Joe Wilson Endorsed John Kerry"

Oh my god, if he supported a Democrat, he must automatically be wrong about EVERYTHING. And yet months after Kerry lost, the story is still in play. I guess the Kerry connection wasn't the main reason behind the claims.

"Wilson Falsely Claimed Cheney Sent Him To Niger"

This claim is the one that is mostly laughably false. Their best 'evidence' of Wilson making this claim is this quote: "What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby's statement, it was probably the vice president himself..."

Which turns out to be completely taken out of context. In fact, Wilson said JUST BEFORE this quote: "Well, look, it's absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger." See, right there, he says plain as day that Cheney, Rice and Tenet knew nothing about his trip.

And then JUST AFTER that quote he goes on to say: "They asked essentially that we follow up on this report -- that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed."

So IN CONTEXT, his quote that "I believe ... it was probably the vice president himself..." refers to Cheney requesting the CIA look into the allegation. He clearly says that Cheney's office requested the CIA look into the matter, the request filtered down to a departmental level where they decided to send Wilson to ask some questions. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR that Wilson is CLEARLY SAYING that there were at least three degrees of separation between Cheney and the decision to send him to Africa. He explicitly says that Cheney, Rice and Tenet had no idea he was sent. And yet through some kind of twisted logic, the Republicans think this proves he said that Cheney sent him. Incredible.

Go read the CNN transcript for yourself to see exactly what was said.

"Wilson Denied His Wife Suggested He Travel to Niger"

In fact, Wilson has denied that she was part of the decision making process. Let's look at exactly what he said in the interview the RNC cites as evidence of this:

WILSON: "But the fact of the matter is, the decision -- the invitation, the offer, or the request that I go out to Niger was made at a meeting, after this issue was discussed in a group of involving analysts from the CIA and other agencies. My wife was not at that meeting, and she specifically absented herself from that meeting, so as to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."

BLITZER: "And I spoke to David Ensor, our national security correspondent, who says that a high-ranking CIA official does say the Senate Intelligence Committee report got it wrong on that specific point."

WILSON: "Well, on July 22nd of last year, a Newsday journalist asked the same thing. And he was told by a senior intelligence official that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked alongside, but said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment."

Go read the CNN transcript.

"Wilson's Report On Niger Had Thin Evidence"

In fact, what Wilson's report had was very little evidence at all. It's not surprising that this is the case, since there hasn't been any solid evidence of any Iraq-Niger uranium deal other than a forged document. He had been sent to talk to his contacts to find out if there was anything to the story of a uranium deal. His contacts were unable to support the story. Maybe his report contained little evidence because the uranium deal was a complete fiction?

Don't be fooled. Besides being misleading half truths and political bluster, most of these points have little to do with the fact that Rove had a verified role in publicly exposing a CIA agent. That's the central issue.