Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The key dividing line is who's telling the truth

Josh Marshall wants to make one thing perfectly clear... "What Wilson said was true".

Here on the Times Oped page you'll see David Brooks column claiming that the information Joe Wilson brought before the public four years ago turned out to all be a crock, a bunch of lies. And we'll let Brooks' scribble be a stand-in for what you will hear universally today from the right -- namely, that just as Scooter Libby was charged with perjury and not the underlying crime of burning an American spy, the deeper underlying offense, the lie about uranium from Africa, didn't even exist -- that at the end of the day it was revealed that Wilson's claims, which started the whole train down the tracks, were discredited as lies.

You'll even hear softer versions of this claim from mainstream media outlets not normally considered part of the rump of American conservatism.

There aren't many subjects on which I claim expertise. But this is one of them. I think I know the details of this one -- both the underlying story of the forgeries and their provenance and the epi-story of Wilson and Plame -- as well as any journalist who's written about the story. The Fitzgerald investigation is probably the part of it I know the least about, comparatively. (It is also incumbent on me to say that in the course of reporting on this story over these years I've gotten to know Joe Wilson fairly well. And I consider him a friend.)

And with that knowledge, I have to say that the claim that Wilson's charges have been discredited, disproved or even meaningfully challenged is simply false. What he said on day one is all true. It's really as simple as that.

There's a tendency, even among too many people of good faith and good politics, to shy away from asserting and admitting this simple fact because Wilson has either gone on too many TV shows or preened too much in some photo shoot. But that is disreputable and shameful. The entire record of this story has been under a systematic, unfettered and, sadly, largely unresisted attack from the right for four years. Key facts have been buried under an avalanche of misinformation. The then-chairman of the senate intelligence committee made his committee an appendage of the White House and himself the president's bawd and issued a report built on intentional falsehood and misdirection.

No one is perfect. The key dividing line is who's telling the truth and who's lying. Wilson is on the former side, his critics the latter. Everything else is triviality.

From day one this story has been about official lies -- corrupt power buttressed by fraud. Along the way it became a story about the president's hireling commentators who lost their honor by becoming part of the fraud. What Wilson said was true. His attackers are all parties to the same lie. Don't forget that.

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