Nor did he report any evidence that Iraq had approached Niger for a sale....It now reads:
Nor did he report any clear evidence that Iraq had approached Niger for a sale. [emphasis added].This was added, I am led to understand, in order to account for the speculative nature of ex-Prime Minister Mayaki's claims to Wilson about Iraq's approach to him in 1999. By adding the word "clear", apparently Reynolds thinks that the sentence is more accurate and that it justifies his failure to mention the fact that Wilson's report to the CIA actually tended to support, rather than refute, the president's claim. Two problems.
First, I never said that the first version of the sentence was inaccurate at all. I simply said its inclusion was disingenuous. In the context of the surrounding text, the "report" to which Reynolds refers seems to be Wilson's NYT article. In that article Wilson made no reference whatsoever to the claim that Iraq had approached Niger. So, in fact Reynolds' new edit has actually made the sentence less accurate, as it implies that Wilson might have made mention of "unclear" evidence, when he didn't. Like I said, the subject of whether Niger had been approached by Iraq never came up in his article. So, even in its new form, the sentence remains disingenuous in precisely the same way as before.
However, it is possible, I suppose, that Reynolds is equivocating in his use of the word "report", and he actually means Wilson's report to the CIA, not his NYT article. If that is the case, then it is true that his sentence is now technically more accurate (indeed, it means the first version was simply false,) but it is no less misleading. By characterizing Wilson's CIA report in this weird way (is intelligence information only relevant if it is “clear evidence”?), Reynolds seems to be going out of his way to lead the reader to believe that the report tends to substantiate Wilson's accusations, even though we know that it absolutely does not, as the Senate intelligence report revealed.
In any event, all of this parsing of sentences is tedious and, ultimately, mostly beside the point. My real problem with Reynolds' article is that he fails to present all the relevant facts which would allow his readers to draw reasonable conclusions and judgments for themselves about the larger story. The parsing simply demonstrates how he has failed. He framed the Libby indictment within a false story line - Joe Wilson, whose honesty and motives we are given no reason to question, blew the whistle on the White House, and the White House's reaction to the honest whistleblower has got it into trouble - and then his audience was enticed to accept it as reasonable. Originally that was due mostly to factual errors. All that has happened since is that he has made a Herculean effort to correct the factual errors, while maintaining the original story line. For all his corrections and clarifications, however, the narrative remains a false one.
FYI, and to be fair, Reynolds has this to say about my claim that he has withheld relevant information:
I am not witholding anything. The narrative in my story however is limited to the outlines of the Wilson visit.