Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Italian Origins of the Phony Niger Story

The Valerie Plame affair has brought renewed attention to the question of who forged the documents that purported to show that Iraq was seeking uranium in Niger. Terry Neal in the Washington Post takes note of the story playing out in the Italian media over the last week:
According to La Repubblica, Italian intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari met with then deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley on Sept. 9, 2002, and passed along documents--that turned out to have been forged--about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium in Niger.
In their eagerness to make the case for war, administration critics say that top White House officials circumvented the normal intelligence checks and balances and funneled the information through the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans, which had been set up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then-deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to develop alternative sources of intelligence.
Bush tried to finesse the dubious origin of the Niger story in his 2003 State of the Union speech by saying that "the British goverment has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought" uranium. Of course the British government had been passed the same forgery that took in those hard-headed realists in the White House.
Josh Marshall is following the story over at TPM.

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