A Right-Wing Smear Is Gathering Steam

Joe Wilson has an op-ed in today’s LAT claiming a “Right-Wing Smear Is Gathering Steam.” I hate when that happens.

For the last two weeks, I have been subjected — along with my wife, Valerie Plame — to a partisan Republican smear campaign. In right-wing blogs and on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the National Review, I’ve been accused of being a liar and, worse, a traitor.

Blogs make the top of the list! Woohoo! I find it interesting, too, that he constantly mentions his wife’s name when most reporters go out of their way not to.

I find his defense rather bizarre. Everyone is his “enemy” and the bipartisan Senate report on 9/11 is full of “distortions.” He concludes that, because he didn’t personally find evidence of a Niger link, the statement–since proven exactly right–“British intelligence has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was debunked. The man is apparently delusional.

Wilson, for reasons that remain unknown to me, took his original case public. That case was full of lies. Pointing that out does not constituted “a smear campaign.” Indeed, no one had ever heard of Joe Wilson before he wrote the NYT op-ed and started his book tour. The motivation for “smearing” him is therefore unclear.

Update: McQ takes the piece apart line-by-line.

Update: WaPo has an editorial entitled “The Sixteen Words, Again.” It’s a pretty fair summation of what we know and don’t know about this story. Their conclusion is reasonable enough:

Some of those who now fairly condemn the administration’s “slam-dunk” approach to judging the intelligence about Iraq risk making the same error themselves. The failure to find significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons or an active nuclear program in Iraq has caused some war opponents to claim that Iraq was never much to worry about. The Niger story indicates otherwise. Like the reporting of postwar weapons investigator David Kay, it suggests that Saddam Hussein never gave up his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction and continued clandestine programs he would have accelerated when U.N. sanctions were lifted. No, the evidence is not conclusive. But neither did President Bush invent it.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Joseph Marshall says:

    I myself would say, rather, that the right-wing is leaking steam from many orifices. Iraq has been invaded, the insurgency has been allowed to develop where prompt action by the Bush Administration might have stopped it, and tens of thousands of our troops may be tangled up with it for years.

    The danger from Iraq was always comparative, as I have pointed out in other comments. The serious question, then and now, was what should we do about Iran, where the danger was self-evidently greater.

    By invading Iraq we seriously undermined our capacities for further military action should it be needed.

    I make this last as a simple declarative statement of fact which I have yet to see anyone here seriously try to refute.

    The so-called sixteen words don’t matter much one way or the other now in practical terms. Wilson doesn’t matter much either, other than the fact that what was done to his wife was a scabrous outrage for which the perpetrators ought to, but probably will not, be brought to justice.

    The real day that the chickens will come home to roost from the invasion of Iraq will be the day that Iranian warheads on Korean supplied missiles become operational.