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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Error in Fitzgerald's Brief - Oh My!

An interesting juxtaposition in a couple of National Review posts.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006
PATRICK FITZGERALD: OOPS, NEVER MIND [Byron York]

An embarrassing move this afternoon from CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. In his now-famous court filing in which he said that former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby testified that he had been authorized to leak portions of the then-classified National Intelligence Estimate, Fitzgerald wrote, "Defendant understood that he was to tell [New York Times reporter Judith] Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

That sentence led a number of reporters and commentators to suggest that, beyond the issue of the leak itself, the administration was lying about the NIE, because the African uranium segment was not in fact among the NIE's key judgments. For example, in a front page story on Sunday, the Washington Post reported:

At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.

In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.

A few hours ago, however, Fitzgerald sent a letter to judge Reggie Walton, asking to correct his filing. The letter reads:

We are writing to correct a sentence from the Government's Response to Defendant's Third Motion to Compel Discovery, filed on April 5, 2006. The sentence, which is the second sentence of the second paragraph on page 23, reads, 'Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." That sentence should read, "Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, some of the key judgments of the NIE, and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

Embarrassing indeed. Some gentle readers conclude the likes of ...

Fitzgerald blatantly lied to a federal judge in a grand jury filing, and allowed that lie to sit for over a week so that it could be absorbed into the national consciousness.

and

JUST that one "mistake" should be enough for them to drop the charges...because this prosecutor obviously can't be trusted to do this "right"

and

Q: am I to understand that all this "Bush leaked" stuff was brought on by filings that Fitz made that he has now retracted?
A: I believe so


Well, here is additional information, also from National Review. See if this doesn't color your conclusion as to the gravity of Fitzgerald's error. The context of the following National Review piece is critical analysis of a David Schuster report. This analysis included a look-see at the National Intelligence Estimate in question - always a good practice to read source documents -- and perhaps a bit more -- before leaping to an ultimate conclusion.


Here are the facts David Shuster got wrong, either wholly or in large part:

1) While the "vigorously trying to procure uranium" is not a key judgment, a similar key judgment says: "Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them."

2) The "vigorously trying to procure uranium" phrase is in the NIE (page 24): "Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons." Shuster said that the phrase was "not in the document at all."

3) Bush did not ignore several agencies. He listened to several agencies and only discounted the views of one.

NRO MediaBlog: Hardball: Shuster's Lies


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