A version of this was first posted at my blog at www.davidcorn.com….
I told readers of my regular blog that I would eventually get to Christopher Hitchens and his claims that Iraq had indeed sought uranium in Niger and that the Plame leak was not connected to a White House vendetta against Joe Wilson (and that I had promoted this “delusion.”) Today’s Slate contains a lengthy response from me that contends that Hitchens’ Niger theorizing is contradicted by various facts he conveniently ignores. (These facts are covered at great length in the new book I wrote with Michael Isikoff, Hubris: the Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.) The piece also reminds (or, attempts to remind) Hitchens of other facts he never references when he writes about the Plame case: namely, that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were out to undermine Wilson and in doing so leaked classified information about his wife’s CIA employment. If you’re interested in the details, you can go to the piece. Here’s the finale:
For more than two decades, I have seen Hitchens weave facts and assertions into stylistically brilliant copy as he attempts to intuit great truths. But when he comes to believe that he can outthink the facts, he ends up enwrapped in creative conspiratorial fantasies. This past February, I participated in a radio debate with him on whether the Bush administration had misguided the nation into war. Hitchens largely avoided the question at hand and instead argued the necessity of the invasion. When he did address the issue of the absent WMDs in Iraq, he took a strange turn. “Doesn’t anything ever strike you as odd,” he said, “about the figure of zero for [WMD] deposits found in Iraq?…Isn’t it odd that none after all this? None? Doesn’t that suggest a crime scene that has been pretty well dusted in advance, the fingerprints wiped? Well, it does to me.” Read that quote carefully. It is revealing. Hitchens was saying that the fact that no weapons had been uncovered in Iraq (after nearly three years of searching) was evidence that there had been weapons. How can one argue with a person of such intellectual prowess that he can turn absence into presence by mere deduction?