Wilson implied he had been sent to Niger by Vice President Dick Cheney. Among copious other references to Cheney in the op-ed, Wilson said that CIA "officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story" that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium from Niger, "so they could provide a response to the vice president's office."
Soon Clown Wilson was going around claiming: "The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked, and that response was based upon my trip out there."
Dick Cheney responded by saying: "I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson. I don't know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back." Clown Wilson's allegation that Cheney had received his (unwritten) "report" was widely repeated as fact by, among others, The New York Times.
In a huffy editorial, the Times suggested there had been a "willful effort" by the Bush administration to slander the great and honorable statesman Saddam Hussein. As evidence, the Times cited Bush's claims about Saddam seeking uranium from Niger, which, the Times said, had been "pretty well discredited" which, according to my copy of The New York Times Stylebook means "unequivocally corroborated" "by Joseph Wilson 4th, a former American diplomat, after he was dispatched to Niger by the CIA to look into the issue."
So liberals were allowed to puff up Wilson's "report" by claiming Wilson was sent "by the CIA." But in the traditional liberal definition of "criminal" Republicans were not allowed to respond by pointing out Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife, not by the CIA and certainly not by Dick
I wish to point out that Pres. Bush said, "Africa" not Niger in his speech. I keep seeing that mistake repeatedly. It is an inaccurate quote when Niger is used.