The problem with bad information

As numerous readers have pointed out, Terrence Wilkinson may be fictitious, but the story is not. As Bloomberg News reports:

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters Bush based his assertion on what turned out to be a “bogus” report that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. The acknowledgement — which Fleischer also made June 9 — follows similar findings by a U.K. parliamentary committee and comments from a retired U.S. ambassador who had investigated the report and told the administration it was false.

“That information was erroneous and they knew about it well ahead” of the president’s address Jan. 28, said Joseph Wilson, who the administration sent to Niger to investigate the report of Iraq’s effort to buy uranium.

“Either the administration has some information that it has not shared with the public or, yes, they were using the selective use of facts and intelligence to bolster a decision in a case that had already been made — a decision that had been made to go to war,” Wilson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. He made similar comments on other news shows and in a New York Times op-ed article.

And here’s a similar, though apparently more credible, report from the UK Guardian:

A former US intelligence official who served under the Bush administration in the build-up to the Iraq war accused the White House yesterday of lying about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

The claims came as the Bush administration was fighting to shore up its credibility among a series of anonymous government leaks over its distortion of US intelligence to manufacture a case against Saddam.

This was the first time an administration official has put his name to specific claims. The whistleblower, Gregory Thielmann, served as a director in the state department’s bureau of intelligence until his retirement in September, and had access to the classified reports which formed the basis for the US case against Saddam, spelled out by President Bush and his aides.

Unlike Terrence Wilkinson, Gregory Thielmann appears to actually exist — so I hope no one is so unscrupulous as to use the bogus Capitol Hill Blue story to try to discredit this one.