Juan Cole Fact-Challenged Again

In a comical farce worthy of Feydeau, fact-challenged professor Juan Cole today slams Cong. Joe Wilson by comparing him (unfavorably) to Amb. Joe Wilson. He depicts Congressman Joe:

Joe Wilson, whom the Health Industry lobby has given $244,196 in campaign contributions, was of course himself lying when he implied that President Obama’s plan will cover illegal immigrants. It will not.

and contrasts him with Ambassador Joe:

On July 6, 2003 another Joe Wilson called a president a liar, in an opinion essay for the New York Times. This Joe Wilson had bravely stared down Saddam Hussein in fall, 1990 as acting ambassador in Baghdad and been commended for his courage by George H. W. Bush.

Now, I’ll roll past the fact that Ambassador Joe was deeply partisan Democrat – which ought to be noted in the same style as Congressman Joe’s political donations, if we’re going to maintain a pretense of honesty.

I’ll roll past the fact that while the current healthcare bill disallows funding for illegal immigrants, it also has no funding or mechanism for enforcement of this provision (and I say this as someone who believes that – for both humanitarian and public health reasons, it’s crazy not to offer some baseline care to illegal immigrants). Or that the Senate just (after Congressman Joe’s outburst) moved to fix the bill.

But you know, one thing I can’t roll past is Cole claiming this:

George W. Bush had falsely alleged in his State of the Union Speech that Iraq had recently bought yellowcake uranium from the West African country of Niger.

Here’s the cite from the CNN transcript of the SOTU speech:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Now if Professor Cole has a problem with the difference between sought and bought – I mean, they do sound alike – I’d say that’s something he ought to work on. I mean, I sought a classic Ferrari Testarossa (not the tacky ’80’s ones) at a recent luxury car auction, but, sadly, my $10 bid wasn’t enough for me to have bought it.

Now just as an added fillip on this issue, Ambassador Joe himself reported that Iraqi agents had sought yellowcake in Niger. If you read the actual report of his trip cited in the Senate report – as I did before I did this post in 2005 – you’ll find this paragraph on page 43:

The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerian President Ibrahaim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997 – 1999) or Foreign Minister (1996 – 1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it. Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [redacted] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq.”

(emphasis added)

Then we go to Ambassador Joe’s oped:

In September 2002, however, Niger re-emerged. The British government published a ”white paper” asserting that Saddam Hussein and his unconventional arms posed an immediate danger. As evidence, the report cited Iraq’s attempts to purchase uranium from an African country.

Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa.

The next day, I reminded a friend at the State Department of my trip and suggested that if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them.

So between Bush and Ambassador Wilson – who’s lying?

And is there any – even generous – interpretation of these facts in which Professor Cole isn’t?
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One thought on “Juan Cole Fact-Challenged Again”

  1. Fair enough, although I think Armed Liberal and Juan Cole are both taking themselves too seriously. I prefer “humorous satire”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/12/opinion/12collins.html for this kind of criticism.

    Reading the ’03 SOU speech does make one rejoice at having a president who can give a good speech. The SOU was a rambling mess, until it turned to Iraq, at which point it becomes focused . . . but creepy in light of how wrong they turned out to be about all the pre-war hype.

    There are more than 14 words devoted to health care reform:

    “Our second goal is high quality, affordable health for all Americans. The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation, with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people, medical care costs too much, and many have no coverage at all. These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. Instead, we must work toward a system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy, choose their own doctors, and seniors and low-income Americans receive the help they need.

    Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine.

    Health care reform must begin with Medicare; Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society.

    We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to the preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America.

    Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is.

    And just like you, the members of Congress, and your staffs and other federal employees, all seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs.

    My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare. Leaders of both political parties have talked for years about strengthening Medicare. I urge the members of this new Congress to act this year.

    To improve our health care system, we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost: the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued.

    Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit; I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform.”

    “Some”:http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0305-07.htm feared that this was a prelude to turn medicare away from a national plan into a public option.

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