Time Out

Something funny's going on in Mudville. In case you haven't heard, an article in this week's Time claims that:
The previously undisclosed fact gathering [on Joseph Wilson] began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo [we assume this memo], which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June. Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too.

When Pincus' article ran on June 12, the circle of senior officials who knew about the identity of Wilson's wife expanded. "After Pincus," a former intelligence officer says, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" about Wilson's trip and its origins. A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can't remember exactly when. One thing he's sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that "we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on."
Well and good (or evil) except that Time magazine or the White House or the CIA sorta forgot that Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times wrote a month earlier about "a former ambassador" traveling to Niger:
I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.
What's going on here? Did Time not do its job? Does no one in the CIA or the White House communications office read the nation's "paper of record"? Note to Time: questions don't get answered if they're never asked.

UPDATE: Barbara O'Brien, writing for The American Street, noticed the Kristof discrepancy too. She quotes the WaPo article from a couple of weeks ago that was probably where I first read about the Kristof column. According to the WaPo (which apparently Time reporters don't read):
Kristof aired [Wilson's Niger findings] publicly for the first time in his May 6, 2003, column but did not name Wilson. This caught the attention of officials inside Cheney's office, as well as others involved in war planning, according to people who had talked with them.
So the White House version that Time reports is (surprise) complete crap.

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