Forged Niger Yellowcake docs
= go to NFU page
= go to NFU page
ABC News Report on
& Salon.com a comprehensive work on Niger forged docs
Washington Post still part of cover-up -- see 07 article
Senate Intelligence Committee Phase II a, b - Bush lies to war.
|Italian Job -Iran-Contra II
|"Niger Uranium Mystery Solved" AfterDowningStreet and Justin Raimondo, Antiwar
|Dick Cheney's Covert Action, Larry Johnson
|LA TIMES "SISMI sent the CIA and U.S. and British officials information that it knew was forged"
Italian parliamentary officials announced that the head of Italy's military
secret service, the SISMI intelligence agency, would be questioned next month
about allegations that his agency gave the disputed documents to the United
States and Britain, an Associated Press report said. A spokeswoman said Nicolo
Pollari, the agency's director, asked to be questioned after reports this week
in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper claiming that SISMI sent the CIA and U.S. and
British officials information that it knew was forged.
The newspaper reported that Pollari met at the White House on Sept. 9, 2002, with then-deputy national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley. The Niger claims surfaced shortly thereafter. A spokesman for Hadley, now the national security advisor, confirmed that the meeting took place but declined to say what was discussed.
Hadley played a prominent role in the controversy over Bush's claims in his State of the Union address. He took responsibility for inserting into the speech the famous 16 words that laid out the allegations
|"But by then Elisabetta Burba, a journalist for the Italian magazine Panorama (owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) had been contacted by a "security consultant" named Rocco Martoni, offering to sell documents that "proved" Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for $10,000. Rather than pay the money, Burba's editor passed photocopies of the documents to the U.S. Embassy, which forwarded them to Washington, where the forgery was later detected. Signatures were false, and the government ministers and officials who had signed them were no longer in office on the dates on which the documents were supposedly written."
|From Wikipedia, Yellowcake Forgery.
|The Yellowcake forgery (a.k.a. "Yellowcakegate")
refers to a set of falsified documents which claimed that Iraq
had attempted to buy yellowcake
to justify the impending 2003
invasion of Iraq. The IAEA
had ruled the documents a forgery, and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph
C. Wilson had criticised the George
W. Bush administration as seeking to craft evidence to support a
decision to invade Iraq,
rather than to accept his judgement that the link was false.
There is some controversy regarding whether or not these documents formed the basis of a 2003 pre-Iraq War statement made by President Bush, which asserted a connection between Saddam Hussein and Africa. However, the Downing Street memo, and other reports by former officials Karen Kwiatkowski, Richard A Clarke, and others, implicates the Bush administration and UK, Tony Blair government, to having conspired to fabricate materials to support an earlier decision to invade Iraq.
An FBI investigation into the authorship of these documents is ongoing, though critics charge that the CIA was directed to produce the documents.
Background Wikipedia links:
By late 2003, the trail of the documents had been partially uncovered. They were obtained by a "security consultant" (and former agent of the precursor agency to , the SID), , from Italian military intelligence (SISMI). An article in The Times (London) quoted Martino as having received the documents from a woman on the staff of the Niger embassy, after a meeting was arranged by a serving SISMI agent. ("Tracked down," by Nicholas Rufford and Nick Fielding, Sunday Times (London), Aug. 1, 2004.) Martino later recanted and said he had been misquoted, and that SISMI had not facilitated the meeting where he obtained the documents.
Martino, in turn, offered them to Italian journalist Elizabetta Burba. On instructions from her editor at Panorama, Burba offered them to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October, 2002.  It is as yet unknown how Italian intelligence came by the documents and why they were not given directly to the U.S. In 2005, Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of counterterrorism operations at the CIA and the intelligence director at the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan, expressed the opinion that the documents had been produced in the United States and funneled through the Italians:
In an interview published April 7, 2005, Cannistraro was asked by Ian Masters what he would say if it was asserted that the source of the forgery was former National Security Council and State Department consultant Michael Ledeen. (Ledeen had also allegedly been a liaison between the American Intelligence Community and SISMI two decades earlier.) Cannistraro answered by saying: "you'd be very close." 
In an interview on July 26, 2005, Cannistraro's business partner and columnist for the American Conservative magazine, former CIA counter terrorism officer Philip Giraldi confirmed to Scott Horton that the forgeries were produced by "a couple of former CIA officers who are familiar with that part of the world who are associated with a certain well-known neoconservative who has close connections with Italy." When Horton said that must be Ledeen, he confirmed it, and added that the ex-CIA officers, "also had some equity interests, shall we say, with the operation. A lot of these people are in consulting positions, and they get various, shall we say, emoluments in overseas accounts, and that kind of thing."
In March 2003, Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, agreed not to open a Congressional investigation of the matter, but rather asked the FBI to conduct the investigation. As of September 2004, the FBI had not yet interviewed Martino, claiming they were awaiting permission from the Italian government to do so.  However, Martino is known to have been in New York in August 2004. 
On July 14, 2004 the British Government released a report called
"A Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction"
commonly referred to as the Butler Report. The report calls President
Bush's statement regarding Niger "well founded." The Butler
Review made the following conclusions on page 139: a. It
is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in
In September 2004, the CBS News program 60 Minutes decided to delay a major story on the forgeries because such a broadcast might influence the 2004 U.S. presidential election. A CBS spokesman stated, "We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election." 
External links and references
|KARL ROVE, MICHAEL LEDEEN SPIES PROCURED FORGED NIGER DOCUMENTS
Hallmark, jeudi, 28/07/2005 - 14:34 Analyses | Lois sécuritaires-
Karl Rove's foreign-policy advisor, Michael Ledeen, proclaimed "the rightness of the fascist cause" in 1972. In 1984 he got George Bush Sr to appoint Iranian arms merchant and Iranian/Israeli double-agent Manucher Ghorbanifar as a middleman in the scandalous Iran-Contra affair. Ledeen has been a fixture in Washington and Israel ever since, advocating a modern version of the Crusades against Islamic nations. Based on what he has said and written, I believe Ledeen is insane.
Michael Ledeen, Rove's "brain," is one of the leading advocates for a US attack on Iran. The Washington Post quoted Ledeen as saying that Rove told him, "Anytime you have a good idea, tell me." I guess that means we can look forward to the Bush team drumming up a war with Iran. [For more, see articles by Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post -- the main man of the mainstream media pursuing the Rove Scandal.]
George Bush Jr., when he assumed the presidency in 2000, already knew that he was going to settle the family score with Saddam Hussein. His "brain," Rove, quickly enlisted Ledeen to trump up a causus belli.
EARLY 2000: ROCCO MARTINO AND THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Rocco Martino is a 66-year-old Italian gentleman SEE PHOTO who worked on and off for the Italian SISMI (analogous to the CIA) for many years and who also peddled the same information to various spy organizations and publications -- a convicted felon and international stool pigeon, just the kind of person Ledeen's associates needed.
After being fired by SISMI (for receiving stolen checks, among other things), he convinced the French intelligence in 2000 that he knew all about Africa and the trafficking of conventional and nonconventional arms. To avoid stepping on the toes of Italian intelligence, the French gave him a contact, or handler, in Brussels. Martino's handler in Brussels asked him to obtain every type of news or reference to contraband uranium from Niger ("NYE-jer) -- a former French colony in the Sahara desert (not to be confused with ex-British Nigeria in W. Africa), where mining was under the jurisdiction of two companies controlled by the gigantic French mining company Cogema.
Martino soon was knocking at the door of the embassy of Niger in Rome, where he met an Italian functionary (a "lady," by most reports -- but this was no lady, as we shall see). Martino provided the French with documents showing that Iraq may have been planning to expand trade with Niger. In fact, the first set of documents did not refer to uranium, and the trade plans were probably the typical sort of relationship Arab oil states had with a whole range of third-world countries.
Martino was surprised when he saw that the French immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought that the documents indicated an Iraqi interest in uranium. (We now know that Iraq had no nuclear program.) "We need additional confirmation and more detailed information," said the French secret service. Martino set out to satisfy his French patrons with additional documents.
JANUARY 2001 BREAK-IN AT NIGER EMBASSY
At night, between the first and second of the January 2001, a mysterious thief came to the embassy of Niger in Rome and into the residence of the counselor in charge. It turned out that some letterhead and seals (see photocopy) were missing. A second dossier on Niger-Iraq trade soon came into Martino's hands, one that included references to uranium trafficking. Martino claims he got it from embassy personnel and that he thought it was authentic.
Martino passed it on to the French secret service, who had paid for it, and also to Panorama [a magazine owned by Bush ally and Italian president Silvio Berlusconi], which assessed it by dispatching a female reporter to Niger. Panorama also turned the file over to the US Embassy in Rome for cross-checking in the US.
The female journalist soon told Martino that the trip to Niger had not produced any real confirmation, and also the French confirmed to Martino that the reports he had passed on to them were groundless. In other words, Bush's war rationale was debunked way back in 2001 by amateur and professional sleuths.
Furthermore, it was a very amateurish forgery, not likely produced through official channels by any state intelligence agency with their vast resources. However, it was soon resuscitated as the Bush administration, in its first year, ramped up its public relations campaign for war.
ROME MEETING IN DECEMBER 2001
Michael Ledeen organized a meeting in Rome to gather evidence to support the planned war. Present were:
1. Michael Ledeen, Karl Rove's foreign policy advisor and organizer of the meeting
2. Nicolo Pollari, head of the the Italian equivalent of the CIA, the SISMI
3. Italy's Minister of Defense, Antonio Martino (no relation apparently to the spy Rocco Martino), Pollari's boss
4. Larry Franklin, an American who presently is being prosecuted in the US for giving classified information to an Israeli front group, AIPC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) -- which some would call "spying," even though he has not been charged with espionage
5. Harold Rhode: member of Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans, protege of Ledeen, go-between with Iraqi exile and CIA asset (at the time) Ahmed Chalabi.
Ledeen already had a longstanding friendship with Francesco Pazienza, an Italian felon and forger who had been kicked out of the official Italian intelligence organization SISMI but who had found a new home in the renegade intelligence agency P-2 (Propaganda Due). Pazienza apparently was not present but definitely was known to Italian intelligence agents, including Rocco Martino, as well as to Ledeen.
Ledeen also was a personal friend of Pollari, who, like Ledeen, is a master of the card game bridge (Ledeen writes columns on it). There are close ties between Pollari's official intelligence organization, SISMI, and Pazienza's unnofficial one, P-2. In fact, P-2 recruits from SISMI.
This little group dusted off Martino's discredited second dossier on Iraq-Niger trade, with the uranium references. The Bush administration now had its causus belli.
CAUSUS BELLI: A PIECE OF CRAP [SEE PHOTOCOPY]
The accompanying figure shows a bit of the cobbled-up intelligence report on stolen letterheads, forged by amateurs -- most likely Ledeen's friend, Francesco Panzienza. This document, which can be viewed at the Israeli site http://www.4law.co.il/Le838k.html, is the "evidence" on which George Bush sent almost two thousand young Americans and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians to their deaths.
SPRING 2002: JOE WILSON TO NIGER
Former US Ambassador (to Gabon) Joseph Wilson made the trip, apparently at the behest of the CIA, to determine the authenticity of the charges in Martino's documents, even though the CIA already could see they were forgeries. Even the Panorama reporter could have saved him the trouble. Wilson reported back to the CIA that there was no proof that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger. The US government knew there was no proof.
FALL 2002: USING THE CRAP
In London, Tony Blair spoke on September 24, 2002, for the first time on the attempts of Saddam Hussein to obtain uranium from Africa. Bush soon began to drive in the nail using the same argument. Remember, Martino had delivered the phony dossier this was based on to the US embassy in Rome over a year before. The US State Department and CIA rejected it and even Panorama had debunked it. The Pentagon, too, knew it was false, of course, but the Wolfowitz-Feith-Perle Defense Policy Board axis plus Bush and Cheney and their respective aides, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby (both now subjects of interest to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and his grand jury in Washington, DC), went with it anyway.
THE REST IS HISTORY: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein...
...recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Sixteen little words in Bush's January 2003 State of the Union message that will be remembered in history with more honorable presidential words like, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (FDR). Bush was going on the forged documents procured by Rocco Martino, debunked by all pertinent experts, and debunked by Joseph Wilson. The US overcame Iraqi opposition -- temporarily (resistance became "suicide," now wonders, for whom?) -- mainly by bombing civilian structures rather than fighting, beginning on March 19, 2003
Wilson's outraged response to using, for murder, evidence he had debunked got his family, or at least his wife, targeted by that amoral husk of a man, Karl Rove, who, along with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby (Cheney's chief aide) outed Valerie Wilson to Robert Novak, Judith Miller (the jailed New York Times reporter and pro-war hawk), Matthew Cooper (Time's reporter who has jeopardized Rove in a criminal investigation), and numerous other journalists. Most, like Miller and Cooper, wisely resisted Rove's bait.
IMP OF IMPS: MICHAEL LEDEEN'S DAUGHTER SMILES IMPISHLY IN IRAQ [PHOTO]
#file_3# The war is not just about oil, Israel's fears/ambitions, or US hegemony. There are contracts and contractors in Iraq. Modern-day carpetbaggers with briefcases descended like a plague of scorpions on the poor, bloodied, bombed-out, grieving people of Iraq. They included the daughter of the war's chief banshee -- Simone Ledeen, Michael's young daughter -- shown in the photo, greeting with an impish smile another occupier at the Baghdad airport -- getting ready to lord it over the Iraqis as she tries out her new MBA in working for the CPA. Caption: "The creatures step out of the tripods." Maybe it'll help to pay off those student loans -- huh, Michael?
LEDEEN FELLOW-TRAVELER FRANKLIN FACES A COURT TRIAL
At Ledeen's (Rove's brain) meeting with Italian intelligence in December 2001 was one Larry Franklin.
The FBI caught Franklin, 58 -- a Pentagon analyst on Iran and an Air Force Reserve colonel -- meeting two agents of AIPAC, Israel's US "lobby," in an Alexandria, VA, restaurant in June 2003. AIPAC employees -- including AIPAC agents at the meeting, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman -- had been under FBI surveillance for a couple of years. The FBI was surprised by Franklin showing up and began investigating him, too. The FBI arrested Franklin, on May 4, 2005, for illegally disclosing highly classified information to AIPAC -- spying for AIPAC, in other words. He is free on bond and is expected to plead innocent at his trial.
Why hasn't the FBI arrested anyone at the AIPAC? Who in the Bush administration is blocking justice in this case? For that matter, why hasn't the FBI interviewed Rocco Martino, the acknowledged and admitted procurer of the phony Niger uranium documents? They are known to be investigating the phony documents.
The United States has had no qualms about getting audacious in Italy by having the CIA abduct an Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar, off the streets of Milan in February 2003, for "exceptional rendering," aka "torture," in Egypt. This open violation of Italian sovereignty was supervised by the CIA's station chief in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady, formerly of the New Orleans area.
Lady Is No "lady": ROBERT SELDON LADY. It is my belief that the "Italian functionary," or "a lady," that Martino referred to was actually a Lady, Robert Seldon Lady Sr, the same man who headed up the torture abduction of Abu Omar.
Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro has just obtained arrrest warrants for 6 more CIA spies in addition to the original 13 that included Robert Lady, in connection with the abduction.
Robert Seldon Lady, 51, lived in Abita Springs, Lousiana, until 2001, when he left for the Milan post. He still has an address in New Orleans, according to Cryptome http://cryptome.org/lady-eyeball.htm. He and his wife Martha own a villa in the Italian countryside near Penango (Asti) and Turin, where they hoped to retire before he went on the lam. Born in Honduras, he was an affable New York City cop in the 80s who infiltrated leftist groups. He is something of an electronics hacker (at least of cell phones). And now he is a wanted felon in Europe.
During the operation, Lady apparently worked directly with the commander of the 31st Security Police Squadron, Lt. Col. Joseph Romano, USAF, at the Aviano Air Base in Italy. Lt. Col. Romano, who currently works at the Pentagon, also is sought for interviewing by Italian prosecutors. At the time, Romano worked under Brig Gen R. Michael Worden, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, who also should have to answer some questions.
The Italian prosecutor could release the photographs of the American kidnap-torture perps at any time. This case -- Robert Lady's kidnapping of Abu Omar -- could become a very big story because of its possible effects on relations between nations.
|lternative Media Center Quebec
Documents Full of Flaws By Brian Ross,
July 16 The forged documents detailing the supposed sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq were published today in a Rome newspaper — obvious flaws and all. Among the many glaring errors evident in the documents, which were allegedly produced by an underpaid Nigerien diplomat and published in La Repubblica, are the use of obsolete letterheads, incompatible dates and poorly forged signatures. In one document that supposedly formalizes the sale of uranium to Iraq, dated October 2000, bears the signature of a man who has not been Niger's foreign minister since 1989. Another letter is both addressed to the president of Niger and signed by the president of Niger — although it uses the wrong symbol for the president's office. The forger also had a difficult time keeping his dates straight. A third document, dated July 1999, refers in the past tense to a supposed agreement in June 2000. A congressman is calling for an investigation.
"The U.S. government still considers these documents to be classified and the discussion about them is taking place behind closed doors," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. "I think we need public hearings now that ABC has made them available and we know they are a hoax." The same questions are being raised in Britain. Prime Minister Tony Blair also relied on the forged documents when making the case for war in Iraq. In a combative session in Parliament, Blair insisted it still might be true that Iraq attempted to buy uranium from Niger. "It is not beyond the bounds of possibility, let's at least put it like this, that they went back to Niger again," he said. "And that is why I stand by entirely the statement that was made in the September dossier." Following the Paper Trail For more than a week, the Bush administration has been trying to explain how it came to pass that the president, in his State of the Union speech, erroneously claimed that Saddam Hussein was trying to get uranium in Africa. The president said Monday the main thrust of his case for the Iraq war is, and was, accurate. "The speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence," he said. "And I am absolutely convinced today, like I was convinced when I gave the speeches, that Saddam Hussein developed a program of weapons of mass destruction." Bush's claim that Saddam was seeking uranium from Africa was just one part of his case for war, albeit a very important one. However, the intelligence debacle grew out of a scam when an underpaid African diplomat who was stationed in Rome created bogus documents, which he then sold to the Italian secret service, sources said. The Italians officially deny the sale, but intelligence sources told ABCNEWS the fake documents were produced in late 2001 in Rome, in a building that houses the tiny embassy of Niger. The diplomat, who now has been recalled to Niger, sold the forged documents to the military branch of the Italian secret service for what sources say was a few thousand dollars. "There had been reports circulating about Niger's sale of uranium to Iraq in the l980s and I think this diplomat apparently saw an opportunity to make some money by feeding into the current controversy about Iraq's program of weapons of mass destruction," said counterterrorism expert Vince Cannistraro, an ABCNEWS consultant. Niger Denies Its Diplomat Involved. In Rome today, Niger's ambassador to Italy denied the story. She said no one from her country's diplomatic corps had created any fabrication, and that Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja met with Bush last week to tell him that. As is now known, the documents were soon spotted as forgeries by the International Atomic Energy Agency and made public when the agency's chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, testified before the U.N. Security Council on March 8. "It was not really very difficult for us to come to the quick conclusion that these documents were forgeries," ElBaradei told Germany's ZDF Television.
|Dick Cheney's Covert Action by Larry C. Johnson
|Published on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 by TomPaine.com
Face it, America. You’ve been punk'd.
It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam—and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic “covert action” program against the citizens of the United States.
Covert action refers to behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to plant stories, manipulate information and shape public opinion. In other words, you write stories that reporters will publish as their own, you create media events that tout a particular theme, and you demonize your opponent. Traditionally, this activity was directed against foreign governments. For example, the U.S. used covert action extensively in Greece in the 1960s to help fend off communists. Covert action also played a major role in rallying world support for the Afghanistan mujahideen following the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Revelations during the past week about the Plame affair make it clear that the Bush administration used covert action against its own citizens. Consider, for example, the charge that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The key event in this disinformation campaign was the intelligence manufactured by the Italians. The Italian intelligence service, SISME, provided the CIA with three separate intelligence reports that Iraq had reached an agreement with Niger to buy 500 tons of yellowcake uranium (October 15, 2001; February 5, 2002; and March 25, 2002). The second report, from February, was the subsequent basis for a DIA analysis, which led Vice President Cheney to ask the CIA for more information on the matter. That request led to the CIA asking Ambassador Joe Wilson to go check out the story in Niger.
We learned last May that in the summer of 2002, the Bush administration told our British allies that they would "fix the facts" around the intelligence. In other words, the United States sought to manufacture a case that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear capability. Note, not only did bogus intelligence reports and fabricated documents surface, but senior administration officials—Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney—went to great lengths to try to convince Americans that the United States would soon face the wrath of Iraqi attacks. Remember the smoking mushroom cloud?
Despite repeated attempts by the Italian intelligence service to help us cook the books, the senior CIA intelligence analysts resisted the administration’s effort to sell the bogus notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger. Even in the much-maligned October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the entire intelligence community remained split on the reliability of the Iraq/Niger claim. During briefings subsequent to the publication of the NIE, senior CIA officials repeatedly debunked the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. They also dismissed as unreliable reports from Great Britain, which also were derived from the faulty Italian intelligence reports.
It is now clear that Italy’s intelligence service, SISME, had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in early October 2003 that purported to show a deal with Iraq to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with longstanding ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain: Either SISME or someone with ties to SISME helped forge and circulate those documents, which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq.
Although some in the intelligence community, specifically analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Energy, believed the report, the intelligence community as a whole did not put much stock in the reports and forged documents, and repeatedly told policy makers that these reports were not reliable. Yet the Bush administration ignored the intelligence community on these questions, and senior policymakers—like Vice President Cheney—persisted in trying to make the fraudulent case.
Two weeks before President Bush spoke the infamous 16 words in the January 2003 State of the Union speech, the Department of Defense was fanning the flames about Iraq’s alleged Nigerian uranium shopping trip. Starting in late 2001, senior Department of Defense officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, provided favored military talking heads with talking points and briefings to reinforce messages the administration wanted the public to remember.
One of those who frequently attended these affairs, Robert Maginnis, a former Army officer and now a commentator for Fox News and the Washington Times , published an op-ed on January 15, 2003, for United Press International, subsequent to one of the briefings. In writing about the case for attacking Iraq, Maginnis affirmed that Saddam, “failed to explain why Iraq manufactures fuels suited only for a class of missile that it does not admit to having and why it sought to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger.”
Notwithstanding repeated efforts by intelligence analysts to downplay these intelligence reports as unreliable, DOD officials fanned the flames. This, my friends, is one example of “cooking intelligence.” These facts further expose as farce the Bush administration’s effort to blame the CIA for the misadventure in Iraq. We did not go to war in Iraq primarily because of bad intelligence and bad analysis by the CIA. The Bush administration started a war of choice.
While CIA did make mistakes, and while some key members of the National Intelligence Council were willing to drink the neocon Kool-Aid and go along with the White House, when it came to questions of whether Iraq was buying uranium in Niger or if Saddam was working with bin Laden, CIA and INR analysts consistently got it right and told the administration what they did not want to hear. It was policymakers, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, NSC Chief Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who ignored what the analysts were saying and writing.
The evidence of the White House effort to manipulate and shape U.S. public opinion is now overwhelming. Just last week, President Bush appeared in a pathetic scripted “dialogue” with hand-selected U.S. troops. We also know that male escort Jeff Gannon Guckert was granted special access to White House press briefings and that pundits like Armstrong Williams sold themselves to the White House. The Bush administration had an organized campaign to manipulate the U.S. media to get its message out. Unfortunately, the corporate media played along.
The attack on Valerie Plame Wilson was not an isolated incident. It was part of a broader pattern of manipulation and deceit. But this was not done for the welfare of U.S. national security. Instead, we find ourselves confronted by an unprecedented level of terrorist attacks and a deteriorating military situation in Iraq. At the same time, we now know that the Bush administration gladly sacrificed an undercover intelligence officer in order to keep up the pretense that the war in Iraq was all about weapons of mass destruction.
Americans have died because of the Bush deceit. The unmasking of Valerie Plame was not an odd occurrence. It was part of a pattern of deliberate manipulation and disinformation. At the end of the day, American men and women have died because of this lie. It is up to the American people to hold the Bush administration accountable for these actions.
Larry Johnson worked as a CIA intelligence analyst and State Department counter-terrorism official. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
© 2005 TomPaine.com
|source: After Downing Street, and Antiwar, Justin Raimondo Michael Ledeen
|Niger Uranium Forgery Mystery Solved? Submitted by davidswanson on
Wed, 2005-10-19 01:14. Evidence October 19, 2005 The Fitzgerald/Plame
investigation goes in a new direction By Justin Raimondo AntiWar.com
Amid all the brouhaha over whether I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Karl Rove, or any number of Bush administration insiders had a hand in leaking the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, the essential crime at the core of the investigation – and its probable starting point – often gets lost in the shuffle. The "outing" of Plame was not an end in itself: the outers didn't just one day decide that they were going to go after her and Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, her husband, because they were in a vindictive mood. They were out to get them because Wilson drew attention to the provenance of the infamous "16 words" uttered by President Bush in his 2003 state of the union address, in which Bush claimed that Iraq had sought out uranium to make a nuclear bomb in "an African country." Perhaps without knowing it, Wilson – in taking an interest in this subject – was getting too close to the enormous fraud at the center of the War Party's propaganda campaign.
The African country Bush spoke of is Niger, where much of the world's uranium is mined under the watchful eye of a French consortium – and where it would be extremely difficult, if not close to impossible, for the Iraqis to walk off with the tons of uranium required to produce weapons-grade materials. This accountability issue was no doubt a major reason for the skepticism the Niger uranium story engendered in Ambassador Wilson, who was sent to Niger by the CIA to check out the facts – and came back with a negative report. Wilson was therefore shocked to hear the president reiterate a claim that had been previously and definitively debunked, and went public with his mission and its results – but not before the source of that claim had been brutally and publicly refuted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In early October 2002, Italian journalist Elisabetta Burba, a writer for Italy's Panorama magazine, delivered some documents to the U.S. embassy in Rome: a cache of letters and other papers purporting to be correspondence between officials of the Niger government and the Iraqis relating to the acquisition of uranium "yellowcake." The documents soon found their way to Washington, D.C., where key administration officials were quick to incorporate them into their "talking points" for war with Iraq – and into Bush's Jan. 28, 2003 speech.
When the IAEA asked to see evidence of the administration's contentions, they were put off, until finally the Niger uranium documents were handed over. It took IAEA scientists just a few hours to demonstrate that the documents were not only forgeries, but were particularly crude ones at that – an amateur could have debunked them using Google. As the Washington Post reported, one administration official's response was "We fell for it."
And how! – but that wasn't the end of it, by any means. After all, someone had deliberately set up the American government with false information and badly embarrassed George W. Bush, who had taken the Niger uranium canard and run with it in a very public way. An investigation was launched just as Robert Novak's column outing Plame appeared – mid-July 2003. Whoever leaked Plame's name and CIA affiliation was trying to scare off any further inquiries into the whole Niger uranium funny business, underscoring the key question in all this: who was behind the Niger uranium forgeries?
Even as the FBI was following the trail of the forgers, the Italians were looking into the matter from their end. A parliamentary committee was charged with investigating, and they issued a heavily redacted report: now, I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:
"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."
Alan Wolf died about a year and a half ago of cancer. He served as chief of the CIA's Near East Division as well as the European Division, and was also CIA chief of station in Rome after Clarridge. According to my source, "he and Clarridge and Ledeen were all very close and also close to Chalabi." The former CIA officer says Wolf "was Clarridge's Agency godfather. Significantly, both Clarridge and Wolf also spent considerable time in the Africa division, so they both had the Africa and Rome connection and both were close to Ledeen, closing the loop."
A veteran of the Iran-Contra scandal, Ledeen played an important role in the Iran-Contra "arms for hostages" scandal by setting up meetings between the American government and the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Not all that unexpected coming from a self-proclaimedadvocate of Machiavelli's amoralism. Today, Ledeen is among the most visible and radical neoconservative ideologues whose passion for a campaign of serial "regime-change" in the Middle East is undiminished by the Iraqi debacle. Just as the Roman senator Cato the Elder finished his perorations with the command "Carthage must be destroyed," so Michael "Creative Destruction" Ledeen closes his hopped-up warmongering essays with "Faster, please!," an exhortation presumably addressed to his confreres in the Bush administration.
Ledeen has kept the neocon faith – and the same friends – for all these years. He's still buddies with Ghorbanifar. In December 2001, he had a meeting in Rome with Ghorbanifar in the company of the Pentagon's top Iran specialist, Larry Franklin, and Harold Rhode, assigned to the Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon think tank. Also at the Rome conclave: a number of Ghorbanifar's Iranian friends, including a former senior official of the Revolutionary Guard. Rounding out the distinguished guest list, we have the Italian delegation, consisting of SISMI head honcho Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino, a neocon favorite. Once again, Ledeen plays the middleman – but what kind of a deal was he trying to negotiate?
Franklin, we now know, was busy spying for Israel during this period, handing over classified information to AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman: he has been indicted and has turned state's evidence: the trial is set to begin in January. To this day, Franklin maintains he was just trying to get AIPAC's assistance in moving a more pro-Israel agenda in policymaking circles.
Rhode is an ideologue of a similar coloration. Together with Franklin, Rhode helped set up the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans, which stove-piped phony "intelligence" provided by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and hyped the case for war. Rhode and Franklin worked hand in hand with Chalabi, and, as United Press International intelligence correspondent Richard Sale reports, they had certain interests in common:
"According to one former senior U.S. intelligence official who maintained excellent contacts with serving U.S. intelligence officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, 'Rhode practically lived out of (Ahmed) Chalabi's office.' This same source quoted the intelligence official with the CPA as saying, 'Rhode was observed by CIA operatives as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel,' and that the information that the intelligence officials overheard him passing to Israel was 'mind-boggling,' this source said. It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments, political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and a host of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S. intelligence official said."
No wonder my source tells me that "Fitzgerald asked the Italians if he could share the report with Paul McNulty," the prosecutor in the AIPAC case. There are plenty of links between the two investigations: they are, in a sense, the same investigation, since many of the same people are involved. McNulty is delving into a single aspect of the cabal's activities, while Fitzgerald seems to have broadened his probe to include not only the outing of Plame, but also the origin of the Niger uranium forgeries and other instances of classified information leakage via the vice president's office.
I am hardly the first to implicate Ledeen in connection with the Niger uranium forgeries. Former CIA counterterrorism officials Vince Cannistraro and Larry Johnson have pointed the finger in Ledeen's direction. As the latter put it:
"Italy's SISME [sic] also reportedly had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. embassy in Rome in early October 2003 that purported to show a deal with Iraq to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with long-standing ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain, either SISME or someone with ties to SISME, helped forge and circulate those documents which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq."
Cannistraro, asked by an interviewer if Ledeen was involved with the forgers, said "you'd be very close."
The cast of characters involved in Niger-gate is like old home week in the government scandal sweepstakes. Aside from Ledeen, whose storied (or is that checkered?) history is well-known, we have Clarridge, first head of the Counterterrorism Center set up by Bill Casey under Reagan, who deserves a column all by himself. His close relationship with Ledeen dates from his time as chief of station in Rome in the late 1970s. Clarridge was indicted for lying to prosecutors during the Iran-Contra imbroglio, but given a presidential pardon. His book, A Spy for All Seasons, was the first real "tell-all" book about the Agency. During the Reagan administration, he purportedly was the intellectual author of the notorious "Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare," a CIA how-to manual instructing the Nicaraguan contras in the fine art of terrorism, including bombings, assassinations, and violence directed at noncombatants. It was Clarridge who came up with the bright idea of mining Nicaragua's harbors, which led to the unprecedented condemnation of the U.S. government's actions in the World Court. He was reportedly slated to become a top counterterrorism official in the National Security Council, but was nixed. He now lives in San Diego, Calif., and pursues a number of business and ideologicalinterests, including Dax Resources Corp., which runs a 24-hour Global Response Center and advertises its facility at kidnap prevention and counterterrorism, noting that "we can also undertake special operations, including technical countermeasures."
The Niger uranium forgeries surely qualify as "technical countermeasures," popping up as they did just as the administration's assertions about Iraq's alleged nuclear ambitions and capability were being questioned. As Seymour Hersh pointed out, CIA director George Tenet appeared at a crucial congressional briefing, on the eve of the vote on authorizing the war, and
"Declared, as he had done before, that a shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted on its way to Iraq had been meant for the construction of centrifuges that could be used to produce enriched uranium. The suitability of the tubes for that purpose had been disputed, but this time the argument that Iraq had a nuclear program under way was buttressed by a new and striking fact: the CIA had recently received intelligence showing that, between 1999 and 2001, Iraq had attempted to buy five hundred tons of uranium oxide from Niger, one of the world's largest producers."
The story of how the Niger uranium forgeries got past all the safeguards, how the actual documents were never seen by the CIA until after the president's 2003 speech, and who was pushing to include a reference to Saddam's alleged efforts to procure uranium in "an African nation" as one of the president's major talking points – these are all subjects of interest to a prosecutor attempting to prove charges of conspiracy to lie us into war. There must be a special law that covers government employees, including high officials, who transmit tainted information and poison the well of U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts. I'm sure Fitzgerald will have no trouble finding it.
Fitzgerald's reported interest in the Italian parliamentary report indicates just how his investigation is broadening. The forgeries, the lies fed to us by Ahmed Chalabi and his fellow "heroes in error," the leakage of vital U.S. secrets to the Iranians – all point to the existence of the conspiracy the prosecutor is tasked with uncovering. In the course of their campaign of deception, the conspirators not only outed a CIA agent who was working in the vital area of nuclear proliferation, they also passed on classified information to foreign nationals, including the Israelis and the Iranians. They committed forgery and God knows what other crimes.
Before Fitzgerald is done, we'll see the warlords of Washington hauled before a court of the people. We'll hear the whole sordid story of how a band of exiles, at leasttwo foreign intelligence agencies, and a cabal of neoconservatives inside the Pentagon and the vice president's office bamboozled Congress and the American people into going to war. As the indictments come down, so will the elaborate narrative so carefully constructed by the War Party in the run-up to war be exposed as a tissue of fabrication, forgery, and fraud.
|Fitzgerald, Miller, subpoena, Niger forged docs? ....... Miller / Cooper subpoena
|"On August 12 and August 20, 2004, grand jury subpoenas were issued to reporter Judith Miller and her employer, the New York Times, seeking documents and testimony related to conversations between Miller and a specified government official occurring between on or about July 6, 2003 and on or about July 13, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium.” the filing made by Fitzgerald last year states. subpoena
Rome -- Sep. 29, 2005] The Chicago Tribune reported that Italian investigators have uncovered computer records, including photographs and an Internet map search, that appear to link a former U.S. diplomat and CIA operative to the controversial February 2003 abduction of a Muslim cleric in Milan, according to court documents. Prosecutors say they are proceeding with formal extradition requests for the 22 men and women and expect to present them "within the coming weeks." Robert Seldon Lady, the alleged leader of the CIA gang, is reported to be hiding in Valle de Angeles, Honduras. The State and this article from the Chiapas Indedpendent Media Center
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