Interview with “Fair Game” director Doug Liman
In an interview with The Daily Caller, “Fair Game” director Doug Liman showed a stunning ignorance about the Valerie Plame affair for a man who claims to have thoroughly fact-checked the film. After pressing Liman about several scenes depicted in the film, using the bipartisan Robb-Silberman Commission report as my guide, TheDC got the impression he was completely unfamiliar with the report.
“Did you read the Robb-Silberman report before making the film?” TheDC asked.
“My writers did,” he said.
Which is another way to say “no.”
(It should be noted that the most relevant portion of the report as it pertains to the events depicted in “Fair Game” is less than 100 pages long. I suppose it is understandable that Liman didn’t take the hour or two necessary to read it — it is, after all, only the most comprehensive and authoritative report ever produced on the subject the movie covers.)
Liman kept trying to prove his interpretation of events by referencing the declassified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.
“I’ve actually seen the NIE,” Liman said. “The beauty of making this film years after the fact is that so many documents have been declassified. And so you can actually read the actual documents the president and vice president were presented.”
The NIE was declassified in 2003, at least parts of it. And, as should be obvious, it was read and incorporated into both the Senate report and the Robb-Silberman Commission report. It also doesn’t do anything to bolster Liman’s case. Indeed, beyond uranium acquisition, the NIE supports more generally that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
“Iraq does not yet have a nuclear weapon or sufficient material to make one but is likely to have a weapon by 2007 to 2009,” the NIE reads in one section.
“Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotor — as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools — provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.),” the NIE reads in another section.
The NIE does contain a reservation from one intelligence agency, but it makes clear that the intelligence community as a whole estimated with “moderate confidence” that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and that the country could have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade.
Liman is left to argue that the Bush administration should have listened to the DOE.
“When you have the Department of Energy telling you the tubes are poor choices, that they are poorly suited, those were their words, for weapons production and the DOE is the expert when it comes to gas centrifuges, I would listen. You can’t get any more forceful than that,” he said.
It is true the DOE was in the minority of the intelligence community in dissenting from the aluminum tubes aspect of the nuclear case against Iraq. But it also joined with the intelligence community to assess that Iraq had a nuclear program that could produce a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade. If you are wondering what Liman’s point here is by pointing out one intelligence agency dissenting from the aluminum tubes analysis or how this piece of information provides any evidence that the Bush administration intentionally promoted false claims to push the country into war, you are not alone.