This is connected to the Niger Story, of course, since it was the neocons who embraced the weak evidence suggesting Iraq was pursuing uranium from Africa. Hence, Ambassador Wilson was sent to Niger to check it out.
It's easy to pick any moment and create a very odd circle. Actually, I guess it's more of a network of like-minded neo-cons.
Judith Miller of the NYT, for example, apparently relied upon this false information about Iraqi WMD from defectors like Ahmad Chalabi. Then, VP Cheney and others pointed to the NYT story to support their case publicly. This was noted by John MacArthur in the Columbia Journalism Review:
Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press to brandish Saddam's supposed nuclear threat. Prompted by a helpful Tim Russert, Cheney cited the aluminum tubes story in that morning's New York Times
Cheney's office, it seems, is still trying to push the widely discredited story that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. A Washington Post story from this Monday's paper reported that Cheney staff members (guys like Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Stephen Hadley) were even trying to get Powell to use the Atta story in his big UN presentation. Powell, of course, didn't.
But Cheney, Libby and Hadley (one fall guy for the 16 words) have been persistent.
Libby, by the way, is one of the names mentioned by those speculating about the leak of Wilson's wife's job at CIA. Check out the Matthew Yglesias blog, for example.
And Libby is also thanked "for his timely and generous assistance" in the acknowledgements of Laurie Mylroie's book that blames Iraq for most of the anti-US international terrorism of the 1990s. As regular readers know, I've been blogging a lot about Mylroie's claims -- and the tremendous press coverage she received post 9/11.
The neocons should have known that the intelligence people know how to leak too. For example, they've almost completely discredited Mylroie's thesis. Paul Sperry of WDN:
Their findings were presented to the president Oct. 2 in a still-secret report on Iraq. The summary, or "key judgments" section, of the 90-page National Intelligence Estimate was declassified Friday. WorldNetDaily obtained a copy from the National Security Council. (The report is different from the unclassified 25-page white paper the CIA made public on its website last October.)
Page 4 of the report states: "... [W]e have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against U.S. territory."
In a phone interview with Sperry, the author herself conceded: "Yeah, DIA was given a copy of my book, and they couldn't make the connection," Mylroie said. Her thesis, remember, was that Iraq bombed the WTC in 1993 -- and likely did it again in 2001.
A former UNSCOM inspector is also quoted as saying, "Her theory is wacky." And no, it's not Scott Ritter. That's from retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Stephen Franke, an Arabic translator.
This all makes for a complicated tale. But it sure looks like the intelligence agencies are striking back against the neocons, but Cheney's office hasn't given up yet and the White House is trying to spin everything as "stop the leaks."