More on the Niger Forgeries from the Italian Press.
With Patrick Fitzgerald widely expected to announce indictments in the CIA leaks investigation, questions are again being raised about the murky matter that first led to the appointment of the special counsel: namely, how the Bush White House came into possession of discredited Italian intelligence reports claiming that Iraq sought uranium "yellowcake" from Niger.a link to the first article in the series. Not the one cited above.)
The key documents supposedly proving the Iraqi attempt turned out to be crude forgeries on official stationery stolen from the African nation's Rome embassy. Among the most tantalizing aspects of the debate over the Iraq War is the origin of those fake documents and the role of the Italian intelligence services in disseminating them.
In an explosive series of articles appearing this week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d'Avanzo reveal how Niccolo Pollari, chief of Italy's military intelligence service, known as SISMI, brought the Niger yellowcake story directly to the White House after his insistent overtures had been rejected by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2001 and 2002.
Today's exclusive report in La Repubblica reveals that Pollari met secretly in Washington on September 9, 2002, with then–Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Their secret meeting came at a critical moment in the White House campaign to convince Congress and the American public that war in Iraq was necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons.
UPDATES: Okay, a couple of big developments from two people who have investigated this story for a long time.
1) a pretty complete version of of the Niger forgeries story from Laura Rozen. Hadley could be the connection between the forged documents, the nuclear side of the WMD lies, and the Fitzgerald investigation. A must read as framework if Fitzgerald's investigation does get into the lies told in the runup to the war because this is the connection between the Bush administration and these forgeries.
2) Josh Marshall lays out his timeline with a bit more focus on the political side of the story from the La Republica article. (And he has the link for the Italian version)
The thing to remember is that this meeting between Hadley and the Sismi guy(Italian intel) took place amid the arguments between the Bush admin and the CIA on the validity of claims(often Cheney's) of the reconstitution of Iraq's nuclear program. Then, these forgeries arise....
UPDATE 2: Check out this link from Jos (who is no longer maintaining his blog so I won't link him.)
ROME, Oct. 25 — The head of Italy's military secret services will be questioned by a parliamentary commission next week over allegations that his organization gave the United States and Britain disputed documents suggesting that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Africa, officials said Tuesday.
So, it looks like, although Fitzgerald is not going to get into the Niger forgeries in this possible first round of indictments, the Niger forgeries file is now open and people are looking into it. Not a homerun, but this is the story/crimes I would most like to see looked into. (ooohhh. poor sentence construction.)