Fabricating Facts at the New Yorker

I think it was Pat Moynihan who said people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Moynihan didn’t live to experience the Scooter Libby trial.

A couple of weeks ago, Nicholas Lehmann, who I believe is the dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, stated in the New Yorker (famous for its fact checking) that the White House sent Joe Wilson to Niger, a notion conceded to be false by even the most rabid Bush haters. Lehmann also stated that leaking Valerie Wilson’s name was “unlawful,” another dubious assertion.

This week we have the magazine’s legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin claiming:

The investigation arose… after the C.I.A. sent Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador to Gabon, on a mission to Niger, in 2002. He went to look into reports that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium yellowcake, which is used in the production of nuclear weapons, in that country. Wilson found no such attempt by any Iraqis, and said nothing publicly about his trip for more than a year. (my emphasis)

Thus Toobin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, contradicts the findings of a bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee which found that Iraq had taken steps to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger and that Wilson had reported that to the CIA. (At least Toobin didn’t repeat the canard about the White House sending Wilson.)

As Mark Steyn wrote yesterday:

So much of the current degraded discourse on the war — ”Bush lied” — comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain’s MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler’s special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson’s original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent.

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