York misstated Fitzgerald correction

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Byron York claimed that court papers pertaining to Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "contained the erroneous and later-corrected suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the National Intelligence Estimate [NIE]." York, however, misstated Fitzgerald's correction. In fact, Fitzgerald corrected the suggestion that Vice President Dick Cheney authorized Libby to tell Judith Miller that a "key judgment" of the 2002 NIE was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium -- not the "suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the" NIE, as York wrote.

In an April 13 National Review Online column, White House correspondent Byron York claimed that court papers -- released April 6 -- pertaining to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby "contained the erroneous and later-corrected suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the National Intelligence Estimate [NIE]." York, however, misstated Fitzgerald's correction. According to those original papers, Libby testified that Vice President Dick Cheney instructed him to tell former New York Times reporter Judith Miller that a "key judgment" of the 2002 NIE was that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium. Fitzgerald later corrected the suggestion that Cheney authorized Libby to tell Miller that it was a "key judgment" -- not the "suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the" NIE, as York wrote. Fitzgerald's correction did not in any way refute the fact that Libby was reportedly instructed to give Miller an inaccurate account of the contents of the NIE, which also included the judgment of the State Department's intelligence arm that the uranium story was "highly dubious."

From York's NRO column:

In addition, Fitzgerald's filing from last week -- the one that contained the erroneous and later-corrected suggestion that Libby lied about the contents of the National Intelligence Estimate -- hinted that Cheney was behind the disclosure.

Fitzgerald's original court filing stated:

Defendant testified that he thought he brought a brief abstract of the NIE's key judgments to the meeting with Miller on July 8. 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.

On April 11, Fitzgerald submitted a correction to that filing, which York posted in his entry on The Corner, an NRO weblog:

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."

In the post, York wrote: "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."

In fact, as the correction clearly stated, the only thing that changed was the suggestion from the original filing that Cheney instructed Libby to present the NIE's Niger conclusions as one of its "key judgments." As Media Matters for America noted, the information Libby was reportedly instructed to give Miller -- that the NIE stated Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure" uranium -- is not an accurate presentation of the NIE's findings. The NIE noted that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research called the claim "highly dubious" -- indicating that it was, at best, disputed within the intelligence community.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
National Review
Person
Byron York
Stories/Interests
Prewar Intelligence/WMD
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