Written by Vincent Gioia
July 7, 2008
By Vincent Gioia
In 2003 newspaper columnist Robert Novak wrote his now infamous "Mission to Niger" (published on July 14, 2003) in which he mentioned an allegedly failed attempt by Saddam Hussein to purchase uranium reported by the husband of a (not so) secret CIA agent, Valerie Plame, and mentioned her by name.
Mrs. Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, stated in a number of interviews and in subsequent writings (as listed in his 2004 memoir The Politics of Truth) that members of President George W. Bush's administration revealed Mrs. Wilson's covert status as retribution for his op-ed entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," published in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. In addition, after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson wrote a series of other op-eds questioning the war's factual basis (See "Bibliography" in The Politics of Truth). In one of these op-eds published in the New York Times on July 6, 2003, Wilson says that, in the State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush misrepresented intelligence leading up to the invasion and thus misleadingly suggested that the Iraqi regime sought uranium to manufacture nuclear weapons.
After the initial Novak column, fueled by Democrats, a sycophantic news media proceeded to make the matter a public spectacle for years. A special investigator, Patrick Fitzgerald, was appointed to lead an investigation (which eventually would cost $2.58 million) and he convened a grand jury. Despite revelation to the special investigator that the actual leaker of the name of this secret CIA "operative" (Richard Armitage) in only a few days, Fitzgerald managed to keep the investigation going thereby extending his 15 minutes of fame for years. The CIA leak grand jury investigation did not result in the indictment or conviction of anyone for any crime in connection with the leak itself; however, I. Lewis Libby, Chief of Staff of Vice President Dick Cheney was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements to the grand jury and federal investigators on October 28, 2005( Libby resigned hours after the indictment).
The amazing thing about this incident, in addition to the obvious miscarriage of justice, is that at the root of the controversy was an erroneous report by Valerie Plame's husband. Joseph Plame, who parlayed his report into a public scandal with the help Democrats, the ever-investigative Fitzgerald and the Democrat Party house organs, has been proven to be totally wrong. Those who harped on the Bush administration and its members for both the "leak" and for going to war in Iraq despite a supposed lack of evidence of a nuclear program by Iraq's monstrous dictator and his sons should by all rights be made to suffer the same indignities visited upon President Bush, Vice President Cheney, their aides and especially, Lewis Libby.
Today we know that Iraq did possess 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment. The effort to topple Hussein and cause regime change was indeed necessary to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. We know this because it has been revealed, albeit without the fanfare of the earlier "scandal", that this huge stockpile of concentrated uranium, a remnant of Hussein' nuclear program, was removed from Iraq and shipped to a buyer in Canada. It should be a great relief to the world to know that Hussein was not given enough time to further develop his nuclear program because President Bush defied his critics and took action to abort this threat.
To those unfamiliar with "yellowcake", it is a concentrated form of uranium resulting from early stages of uranium ore processing. Although yellowcake is not considered potent enough for a nuclear bomb or for a so-called "dirty bomb" - "a conventional explosive that disperses radioactive material" - it is a very dangerous material in the wrong hands. Yellowcake can be enriched for use in nuclear reactors and, at higher levels, nuclear weapons.
Of course, as was the case with Caesar, "The evil that men do (in the eyes of their critics) live after them but the good is ("oft") interred with their souls". Bush continues to be maligned by his liberal and appeasement minded critics and too many Americans as well, for taking preemptive action to cancel this threat. We can only wonder what critics and opponents would say if Saddam Hussein had been allowed to continue and developed a nuclear weapon of mass destruction and made it available to world terrorists; at least those of them who would still be alive following a nuclear terrorist attack in the United States?