Turning Tale by Martin Peretz Only at TNR Online Post date: 07.21.04 The tale spun by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson that Iraq did not ever try to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger is now in the process of unraveling. And, of course, the phalanx of anti-war journalists is desperately trying to stop the bust-up. But it can't be done. The flying apart began with two stories in the Financial Times (London), one on June 28, the other on July 4. Relying on information ultimately sourced to three European intelligence services--none of them British and one of them that had monitored clandestine uranium smuggling to Iraq over three years--Mark Huband reported that the network also serviced or was to service Libya, Iran, China, and North Korea. A tell-tale element of the story is that the mines in Niger from which several thousand tons of uranium had been extracted and sold were owned by French companies. Apparently, after a time, they had abandoned the mines as economically unviable. But, as a counter-proliferation expert told Huband, this does not mean that extraction stopped. In any case, Lord Butler's altogether independent panel in the United Kingdom concluded that Tony Blair's claim about Hussein being in the market for uranium was "well-founded." These are the same claims made by George W. Moreover, the U.S. Senate report undercuts Wilson's very believability. I myself had wondered why the CIA had been so dumb--such dumbness is something to which we should have long ago become accustomed!--as to send a low-level diplomat to check on yellowcake sales from Niger to Iraq when it should have dispatched a real spook. Well, it turns out that a "real spook" had recommended him to her boss, that spook being Valerie Plame, who happens also to be Wilson's wife. He has long denied that she had anything to do with his going to Niger and that, alas, was a lie. It appears, in fact, that this is the sole reason he was sent. Still, in a lot of dining rooms where I am a guest here, there is outrage that someone in the vice president's office "outed" Ms. Plame, as though everybody in Georgetown hadn't already known she was under cover, so to speak. Under cover, but not really. One guest even asserted that someone in the vice president's office is surely guilty of treason, no less--an offense this person certainly wouldn't have attributed to the Rosenbergs or Alger Hiss, Daniel Ellsberg or Philip Agee. But for the person who confirmed for Robert Novak what he already knew, nothing but high crimes would do. I confess: I do not like Sandy Berger; and I have not liked him since the first time we met, long ago during the McGovern campaign, not because of his politics since I more or less shared them then, but for his hauteur. He clearly still has McGovernite politics, which means, in my mind, at least, that he believes there is no international dispute that can't be solved by the U.S. walking away from it. No matter. Still, here's his story about the filched classified materials dealing with the foiled Al Qaeda millennium terrorist bombing plot from the National Archives: He inadvertently took home documents and notes about documents that he was not permitted to take from the archives; secondly, he inadvertently didn't notice the papers in his possession when he got home and actually looked at them; and, thirdly, he inadvertently discarded some of these same files so that they are now missing. Gone, in fact. One of his lawyers attributes this behavior to "sloppiness," which may better explain his career as Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser and certainly describes his presentation of self in everyday life. But it is not an explanation of his conduct in the archives or, for that matter, at home. Personnel at the archives actually noticed him stuffing his pockets with papers as he left, which is how the FBI found out about this bizarre tale in the first place. Inadvertence, then, doesn't do it either. Maybe Sandy wanted souvenirs from his career in the White House that was punctuated by so many catastrophes for the United States. Nonetheless, he has had ambitions tied to John Kerry's, ambitions that clash with those of Richard Holbrooke and Joe Biden, who decisively do not have McGovernite politics. But Berger did run the Kerry foreign policy team at the writing of the Democratic Party platform a few weeks ago (when the only opposition, easily pacified, came from a handful of Dennis Kucinich loyalists) and has been deeply involved in crafting how the candidate presents himself on these issues. So my question is: Did Berger, who knew that he was under scrutiny since last fall, alert Kerry to the combustible fact that he was the subject of a criminal probe by the Justice Department and the FBI? My guess is not. Kerry is far too smart, too responsible to have kept him around had he known. But if Kerry didn't know, it tells you a lot about Berger, too much, really. A more important question, of course, is: What was contained in the papers that Berger snatched? The answer to that question might answer another. Maybe Clinton's top national security aide didn't want others to see what they documented. French President Jacques Chirac has let it be known that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is not welcome as a guest in Paris. Mazel tov! Can you actually imagine Chirac putting out a genuine welcome mat for the Israeli leader who has shown that all of France's interventions in the area have brought nothing good: more of terror, more of Arafat, worst of all, more of Palestinian suffering, all to succor the illusion of French influence in the region. But this latest donnybrook between the two leaders focused not on the dispute with the Palestinians but about anti-Semitism in France itself. Chirac has for years been denying that the ugly phenomenon even exists. Finally, when day after day, evidence mounted that the country has not expelled the virus of Jew-hatred from the body-politic and that it is now becoming more malignant, even Chirac himself has had to sound the tocsin. And Sharon sounded it, as well, when this week he called on French Jews to make aliyah or "go up" to Israel. (Would that some Israeli leader had a quarter century ago called on the Jews of Argentina to immigrate.) This really got Chirac's goat. But not before he demonstrated in an off-hand remark that, for him, neither Jews nor Muslims, for that matter, are really genuinely French: "we are witnessing racial events involving our Jewish and Muslim compatriots. ... Sometimes just simple Frenchmen are attacked." This is an ugly dichotomy. But it is not new. After the terrorist bombing of the rue Copernic synagogue on October 3, 1980, Raymond Barre, the French prime minister, alluded to this "odious act which intended to strike Jews [and] struck innocent Frenchmen." Of course, Chirac and Barre are from the center-right and right where anti-Semitism has always nested. But such views are now a staple of the oh, so enlightened left, as well. French hatred of Jews now goes wall-to-wall. And French hatred of Israel, too. A few days ago, France went into a frenzy to mobilize the countries of the European Union at the UN to vote "yes" on the General Assembly resolution calling on Israel to take down the security barrier it is building against Palestinian terror. Many fatuous reasons were mustered to support this demand. But the real reason that France and some others oppose the fence is that it works. A new book by Christopher Andersen will hit The New York Times bestseller list this week. It is called American Evita, and it is about Hillary Rodham Clinton. She pushed herself into a prime time, opening night spot at the Democratic convention after the Kerry folk had relegated her to just one in an "all-the-girls" appearance of the party's women senators, with Barbara Mikulski doing the speaking. How Rodham Clinton maneuvered herself out of this is hard to tell. But one clue is that the Democratic National Committee is still run by Clintonians. And, while we're mentioning arch names, there is Teresa Heinz Kerry, more than a bit on the haughty side herself. Heinz Kerry has certainly put John Edwards in his place in announcing that he is her husband's "second running-mate." This is fair warning of how she sees herself as first lady. On the day that the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to begin divesting its holdings in corporations that do business with and in Israel, there was a pitched street battle in and around Bethlehem. It was not a battle between Jews and Arabs or between Hamas and Fatah. It was a battle between Christians and Muslims. Bethlehem used to be a largely Christian city. It is, after all, where Jesus was born, so where the Church of the Nativity stands. Roman Catholics, Armenians, and Greek Orthodox have lived and flourished there since the first centuries of early Christianity. No longer. As soon as the Palestinian Authority took over in 1994, the Christians of Bethlehem began to leave, many in an understandable panic. For all its secular pretenses, the PA is a militant Muslim jihadist show. A Christian population that not so long ago stood at roughly 75 percent may now be as low as 30 percent. Many of them have come to the U.S. But American churches have averted their eyes from what is really tantamount to an expulsion of Christians not only from Bethlehem but from the Holy Land itself. The Presbyterians have also turned the other cheek by siding with those who torment their own. And they have disavowed Christian Zionism as a heresy. Of course, there are only two and a half million Presbyterians in the U.S.--way down from what once made up this proud church. Moreover, there is growing alienation between the political leadership of the church and lay believers, as there is in the Episcopal communion, much of this revolving around the implicit support of the clerisy for Palestinian terror.