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April 18, 2006



I'm not sure I've completely proven my case. it's possible that the Iraq nuclear analyst just happened to be on leave (unexpectedly) on the day he would have told the rest of the IC the Niger forgeries were forgeries. And it's possible that he was again on leave (expectedly or not) at the time when he could make the case that he had debunked the Niger forgeries earlier than Bush let on. And it's possible that Ford just removed all mention of him in July 2003 because he was back at work, but Ford didn't want to go to the trouble to edit the memo to reflect the Iraq nuclear analyst's input.

But there are a whole lot of coincidences associated with this memo. Like I said, it stinks to high hell.

empty...bet you read this first!!

one interesting diference between the two versions...The June 10 one (first paragraph) states that the two INR staff members most familiar with all the files etc were not present to help (one reassigned and one on leave)

The July version just mentions the one who has been reassigned

It seems this memo has a lot of CYA in it...lots of "we think this is accurate but" and the writer definitely seeks to keep all things Jow Wilson at a distance

Posted by: windansea | April 17, 2006 at 01:43 PM


Or she might have read my comment (the first one posted to her original blog entry about the memos). Or she might have simply come to the conclusion on her own by comparing the two memos side-by-side like anybody else with an above 3rd grade reading ability would have. Sheesh, get over yourself.


I owe the observation entirely to William. I also owe him for clearing my head on the fact that we were looking at two memos. That's when I started blubbering, because I realized what they had taken out. And it all went downhill from there.

Thanks again William!

william...don 't be such a pill....I saw your original post...compared the two versions like any 3rd grader would...and posted it first!!

speaking of getting over yourself...you alluded to super secret hacking ability to get that 2nd version...you are starting to sound like Wilson

Thanks for the analysis. You are amazing.
I awoke this morning with questions about how these memos came to surface now -- and especially how they arrived in the NYSun's inbox along with Luskin's spin, so intertwined that the Sun story spins both together.
On Friday, Judge Walton will hear arguments about a gag order -- would that apply to Luskin? Is this a before-the-bell attempt to get these artfully redacted memos out there in a positive-to-Libby/Rove/etc. light before the gag order? (And I was bemused and amazed at John Dickerson's piece in Slate yesterday arguing that people should contribute to the Libby defense fund because it is the one way we are finding out what's going on in the Bush administration. Sounded like just too Rovian a double-carom shot to be believed.)

As a taxpayer, I find it strange that an intelligence memo like this might contain gaps because so-and-so was on leave or had been reassigned. Come on. We sent a former ambassador all the way to Niamey to gather intelligence, but current employees who were involved in debriefing him are somehow unreachable when it's time to draft a summary memo? It's a minor thing, but it strikes me is ridiculous.

Maybe the redacted portion reads, "reassigned to THE SPACE STATION" and "on leave" is secret code for, "he's in a coma right now."


the Sun got the memos through a FOIA request...if you can find someone who requested them earlier than the Sun then let us know...so far i haven't seen anyone whin ing about it

Well, I knew they placed a FOIA request a long time ago.
But it just seems odd to me that their request would get answered right now, especially as EW points out these documents were declassified a long time ago.
It's not the timing of the request but the timing of the release that seems strange.

I'm not suggesting the Sun sat on this for this long. I think it likely that the first declassification coincided with the SSCI (the memo and notes, which were quoted at some length in the SSCI, would have had to been vetted by INR, particularly given the ORCON classification). And I'm not sure if Jane Harman has shared the two versions of memos with anyone else; but if she has, then presumably the second memo would have had to be declassified at that point (though I presume that Harman, as one of the group of 8, has the clearance to read the memos).

So it wouldn't require a news outlet to have sat on these at all. The earlier declassification might simply reflect the earlier investigations of these memos.

Though, of course, the Sun decided to publish only the least incriminating part of this document.

I've also been thinking back to the Judicial Watch FOIA that got the earlier report on Niger and uranium. They also got a bunch of other documents at the time, but have not published them at all.

In other words, we've got two conservative outlets sitting on documents. And in the case of the Sun, we know it's sitting on documents that are damned incriminating.

No, I didn't mean the Sun sat on them either.
My thought was that they were being released by the administration at this time for a political reason. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened.
If Libby's case is that CIA and State and others were fighting a pitched battle about the whole intelligence leading up to war, well, I think these memos indicate that there was some sniping going on between agencies -- especially as they seem to be artfully redacted (and also artfully written in the first place).


your post yesterday was not a loss, at least to me.

you drew attention to one of my favorite arguments against the likelihood of there actually having been a uranium deal between niger and iraq in the 1990's,

to whit,

the "physical reality" argument,

which i would summarize thusly:

1)iraq was under u.n. sanctions

2) it experienced american fly-overs

3) american, russian, and european spy satellites can probably read the headlines on the newspaper i leave on my patio

4)niger was a francophone african nation in which not a gourd is picked without the french intelligence knowing of it

5)a french consortium manges the uranium mining in niger


how the hell could anyone ship 500 tons of ore from niger to iraq and not have some aspect of that operation noticed?

you don't dig yellowcake by hand, i assume

you don't transport it by camel, i assume.

in short there have to be big machines involved.


how to get around this if your are OVP?


shortly, a set of documents from the nigerian embassy in rome, discovered by accident in AEI file cabinets, will conclusively suggest the existence of an underground tunnel from basra to niamey.

of course, none of this "physical reality" business can prove or disapprove that there was a uranium agreement,


wouldn't it have been a good starting place from a reporter to begin challenging the white house assertions in 2003?

in any event,

i very much appreciate your efforts to keep your readers up on niger/plame

and all its spin-offs.

taken collectively,

your posts and the comments that have accompanied them

are a a model of meticulous internet detective work -

the power of human "parallel processing" in the weblog world.

Great job, EW, as always.

Pakistan. Yes, 8 letters, fits in the spaces (love it when they use a fixed-space font).
"... reassigned to Pakistan)..." (June 10),
or "...Pakistan, ..." (July 7),
and "... (now in Pakistan) ..." (both versions).

Seems silly to redact something that can be figured out so easily. Or am I missing something?


I apologize for coming across as a bit snippy. I'm more than willing to credit you with being the first one to notice that difference. I just felt that it was a mistake on your part to assume that folks on this site read through the comments on Tom Maguire's site (excepting, of course, Jeff who really does yeoman's work in that regard).

I certainly didn't intend to make my locating the other document on the New York Sun's site sound like cloak and dagger. That sort of thing is actually quite mundane in my day job, but it sometimes seems like magic to less experienced users. When you understand the technology behind maintaining a large web site, predicting the pattern of a missing link is quite easy.

As for sounding like Wilson, I'll take that as a compliment. It often takes a little bombast to get people to pay attention to the truth. I know it's not a popular view on Maguire's site, but I happen to think that Joseph Wilson, for all his human foibles, performed this country a great service.


It didn't take forensics. 2Lucky found the Pakistan reference using old-fashioned Google.

Makes it even sillier to redact, huh? Although remember--this redaction probably happened in early 2004, at which time it may have been a different issue.

And one more point--it wouldn't be so easy to figure out where he is now if it weren't for the Sun providing his name. Don't know where or why they got his name, though...

ew-One major difference between the two memos is that the July 7th version changed Valerie Wilson to Valerie Plame. Either that was redacted (can't imagine why) in the Sun's version or the Sun's version is not the one that was on AF One.
The name was changed to Plame in the second memo so as to make sure that her NOC cover name was known to all.

ew-One major difference between the two memos is that the July 7th version changed Valerie Wilson to Valerie Plame. Either that was redacted (can't imagine why) in the Sun's version or the Sun's version is not the one that was on AF One.
The name was changed to Plame in the second memo so as to make sure that her NOC cover name was known to all.


Do you have any evidence for that? I've never seen any allegation that the INR memo on AF1 had a reference to Plame--and I just re-read every major INR memo article last night.

ew-I was hoping that you wouldn't ask that. I will dig through my chaotic notes and saved docs. I will find it eventually, as the source is somewhere on my computer.

william...accepted...I was just joking about empty reading my post yesterday at JOM...like you said..anyone could see those diferences in the memos

re Joe...think what you like but why do you think Kerry dropped him like a hot potato?

so what is the provenance of these two documents re: the sun having them in its custody?

are they "official" documents,

i.e., obtained thru foi or court filings


were they leaked to the sun,

perhaps before they were declassified,

which might explain why the sun sat on them.

did the sun do the redactions?

are declassified documents still subject to such heavy editing by declassifying govt officials?

is this another leak of political convenience rather than conscience?

EW - Rohn's name is handwritten on the page of notes from the 2/19 meeting, top right. Its possible that somebody at the Sun wrote it, but maybe it was there when the Sun obtained the copies - which could explain how they found the name so easily. I wish I could decipher the word that is struck out just ahead of "Rohn".

The Sun story said "A declassified version of the document was obtained by The New York Sun on Saturday" and, at the bottom of the story, "The State Department documents were released to the Sun in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in July 2005. A spokeswoman for the department said no one was available to discuss the matter yesterday."
I'd be real surprised if no other journalists had filed a FOIA for those documents -- if they had, presumably they would have gotten a copy too.
Instead, the Sun's copy "is obtained" on a Saturday, when no one from the State Department is available to discuss the matter. Hmmm.
I'm not arguing that they are not declassified or properly redacted. I think they are what they look like.
But I'm still curious about who exactly authorized their release and why they were released at this particular time.

Tortoise: The word preceding Rohn appears to be 'Doug', but the scribble above it has the appearance of an abbreviation, as if a workgroup, or a location; some of the visual arts people on this website are likely to have a truer take on that superscripted item; I see the 'Doug' simply as a compacted writing style with perhaps an overbroad felt pen in the hands of a writer accustomed to a finer nib.
If some of you have other bitmap documents, there might be some interesting information about routing, who takes notes on margins of papers during meetings.
MK: I was cognizant of the putative gag order the judge has ?signed?, to take effect end of next week, but I thought it was his ire at Libby's counsel's late night rebuttals to the press, nothing to do with the unnamed or possibly person of interest though we do not know that precisely, Rove; Luskin works some Saturdays, right? also, he could have the document walked thru 6:30 p.m. Friday; what time do datestamps get changed to the following day.

Actual memo contents: I am not sure about the truck convoy image or how far a heavy duty helicopter could go; lead containers tend to weigh a lot.

About stamped documents contracting for sales of U232: As other commenters have suggested, it is possible the person with the stamp simply was an inept counterfeiter. A yet further possibility is the stamp could be used on documents that were intended to be recognizable as red herrings to specialists (wrong date of holding office, etc.); another possibility, suppose a person with that stamp also applied it to a legitimate document, as a feint, to make the expert discount a document that was actually viable elsewise. Permutation three: suppose there were a completely unrelated negotiation, not in-country but elsewhere, but the forged Niger document would be part of a packet of bonafides to assure parties to that other deal that a Niger purchase was completed, as well.
I know, we are here on the two newly available memos, and I am still thinking about the other bitmaps in this complicated tale.


I will argue that they weren't properly declassified.

First of all, who was the declassifying authority? There's a stamp from the FOIA liason at state, but if EW's right and these docs were declassified a while back, then why isn't the date and the name of the declassifier properly marked on the document as it is REQUIRED to be by the Information Security Oversight Office.

Also there are clearly some non-marked redactions wrt classification status as I and others have pointed out on the previous thread. Why weren't these clearly marked with boxes and given a specific FOIA exemption as to why they were redacted?

And if I'm right that the original memos were classified TOP SECRET because of the sources and methods issues regarding the Niger memos and the NIE in paragraph four, why is this one of the few paragraphs to be wholly unredacted? One could argue that's because all that info from the NIE had already been declassified, but even so, why hide that the paragraph had once been TOP SECRET? Is it because they don't want people to realize how extraordinary it was that this information was made public by Libby and others?

FWIW, the pages were copied to their present directory on the Sun web site at 8.05am on 17th April (yesterday). So there is no trivial evidence there to figure out whether the Sun had them earlier.

Interestingly, the .php file that displays the July 7 version has a later timestamp (11.37 am). Of course it might have replaced an earier file. Or did you put it there WO? If so you missed the cover page 31062_2_0.jpg :oP

Yes, it stinks. Too many oddities, including the details of publication. Whatever the actual situation will turn out to be, the overarching point is that there has been an early, operational awareness of the need to cover facts pertaining to the Niger information. This is standard operating procedure for a black ops/black propaganda situation.

The details of the actual forgery would be key to tracking the steps of the conspiracy to go to war. Unfortunately, these details are probably lost in the bowels of the intelligence agencies, with their cut-outs, deniability, and classification bs. From what has come out, the job was sloppy, probably contracted out. The Italian Secret Service has been in the pocket of American intelligence since the days of Lucky Luciano, i.e., since the early days of Post World War II and the Italian elections, the latter meant to steal power from the then ascendent Italian Communist Party.

Great work, as this (these?) memo(s) are another piece of the puzzle.


thank you for the info.


that's what i am getting at.

all i know now is that the sun says the docs were a response to an foi request.



maybe somebody gave them to the sun much earlier.

in any event,

it's the classification issue that interests me.

"spontaneous declassification" for political convenience seems to be a habit with the folks in the white house.

Here's a suggestion (and those who have been researching declassification rules, help me out). This document was classified ORCON, meaning the original agency has a lot of influence on how it can be declassified (perhaps meaning our President's auto-declassification is not an option?).

The actual redactions appear to be the kind of things State--particularly a State department cowed by Bolton--would redact before the SSCI or Jane Harman got a hold of them. I certainly can understand why Bolton wouldn't want Harman to know that his office accepted the forgeries.

But then they (who?) made changes for further declassification, which is when they took out the SCI information which, frankly, we shouldn't see. And the Top in Top Secret just so no one could claim Plame was, like, covert or something.

But viget is right. The more recent declassification of these doesn't seem to have been done properly, with all the redaction marks properly noted and explained. Which suggests maybe they weren't properly FOIAed after all.

Typing a few things out for reference. In case anyone finds it helpful. (Can't copy/paste from images).

Entire cover page of June 10 memo. This page doesn't say anything about classification and it itself doesn't look like it's ever been classified. The "File Name" looks like it is based on the document date (2003 June 10):

Drafted: INR/SPM: Neil Silver

Cleared: IRN/SPM: Beth Frisa

[In right margin, offset from a \ spanning the line above and below this one] "ALL o.k." [Initials]

Approved: INR/PDAS: Thomas Fingar

File Name: 030610 Niger


Presumably, cover page of July 7 memo. Again, it doesn't say anything about classification and it doesn't look like it's been classified. It has an extra line (for Distro) and the initials were writted by somebody else. Assuming the "File Name" of the June 10 memo cover page is based on the memo date, this one's file name links it to the July 7 memo with the same Year Month Day pattern (good for filenames).

Drafted: INR/SPM: Neil Silver

[In right margin, offset from a / spanning all the lines above and below this one] "All ok" [Initials look like JH]

Cleared: IRN/SPM: Beth Frisa

Approved: INR/PDAS: William Wood

File Name: 030707 Niger
Distro: S, D, P, PA


Bottom of the first and last page of June 10 memo and on the first page of the July 7 memo. This must be what viget calls the, "stamp from the FOIA liason at state," above. The number after the 31 March date looks like it is also based on a date (March 144, 2005? 3144th FOIA request of 2005? Date of FOIA request is July 2005, according to Sun, right? Is this number just meaningless?):
DATE/CASE ID: 31 MAR 2006 200503144

Original classification note on the first page of both documents. There is an extra / after "SECRET" and a different date (duh) on the July 7 one. Also, I can't read the number of total copies on July 7 because UNCLASSIFIED has been stamped across it:
[redacted, probably] SECRET/ [redacted] /ORCON,NOFORN [redacted, probably]
E.O. 12958 Reason: 1.5(c) and (d)
INR 06-10-03 COPY __ of 3

Could this testimony by Silver at the Bolton hearings relate to the Niger uranium?

Fleitz and an analyst are involved in some disagreement.

I'll look at this in more detail later this week.


Not that one. That one refers to Christian Westermann, who is, I suspect, a colleague of the Iraq nuclear analyst. The most damaging Bolton testimony comes in Beth Frisa's testimony PDF. First, they ask her about an email (that she denies remembering) that basically says Fleitz told her INR people shouldn't provide their opinion about intelligence, they should simply say whether it compromises sources and methods.

But then there's this exchange:

Mr. Januzzi: Were there other incidents in which either Mr. Fleitz or Mr. Bolton told you or others in your office that you supervised that they would rather not receive INR's comments or analysis on issues?

INR Supervisor: None that I'm aware of.

Ms. O'Connell: Can we go off the record?

[Discussion off the record.]

Mr. Foldi: We're back on the record.

Mr. Januzzi: I had one question about the WINPAC analysis. Do you recall which INR analyst was responsible for attaching the INR comment and transmitting that to the Deputy Secretary?

INR Supervisor: Yes.

Mr. Januzzi: Was that someone you supervised?

INR Supervisor: Yes.

Mr. Januzzi: Can you name that individual?

Mr. Foldi: We're not going to do that on the record. I don't mind getting the name, but don't do it on the record.

[Discussion off the record.]

Mr. Levine: Back on the record, please. Let us state, for the record, that several of us have requested to know the name of the analyst who received an e-mail from Mr. Fleitz objecting, apparently strenuously, to the inclusion of a cover memo with the WINPAC analysis that was sent to D. And we've been told that you are not prepared to allow the interviewee to name that person at the moment, and there's nothing we can do about that, but we do protest it.

FWIW I did three posts on the Bolton testimony.

This one, looking at Frisa's testimony and talking about how Bolton's office had gotten busted for breaking the rules surrounding SCI.

This one, which talks about how Fred Fleitz served as Bolton's enforcer, particularly relating to vetting issues. (He also funneled raw intell from WINPAC to Bolton.)

And this one, which describes how they conducted a similar smear (including the use of talking points) against Fulton Armstrong.

Apologize polly,

I've just reviewed the Silver testimony. The second part of it deals with the same issue that the Frisa testimony above deals with: some intelligence came in from WINPAC, and an INR analyst attached his opinion and sent it on, both to Bolton's office and to Armitage. Fleitz was pissed both because the analyst sent it on to Armitage AND because the analyst included his opinion.

In both cases, they seem to be talking about China. But I wonder whether this doesn't relate to the aluminum tubes, which were produced in China.


Those distribution codes mean:

S: Secretary (Powell)
D: Deputy (Armitage)
P: Political Affairs (Grossman)
PA: Public Affairs (Boucher)

Though of course, the William Wood reference would put it later, unless Wood was acting for Fingar for some reason.

Maybe I'm wrong about the declassification on these dates, because it doesn't make sense to distribute this to Condi, Zoellick, Nicholas Burns, and Hughes.

William Wood was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Analysis and Information Management from June 2003 until sometime last year. Maybe Carl Ford, called at home by Armitage, had Wood go in to produce this memo on July 7.

Does that mean Wood was the one to strip out mention of the Iraq nuclear analyst?

Actually, Wood took that position in 2001.

still and all,

the key insight is e'wheel's thesis that "the inr memos were part of the niger forgeries cover-up".

but i have a question for clarification,

does "the inr memos" in the title refer to those memos as originally written


to those memos as modified, edited, amended, stripped, or corrected by bolton devotees

after they had been originally written and transmitted-

in other words, to ex post facto cover-up efforts?


Good question. I think the answer is both. The cover-up activities related to the memos include:

  • Making no mention of the INR analyst's October 15 email debunking the forgeries
  • Depersonalizing the judgments against the forgeries in January 2003 and against Niger-uranium related to the NIE
  • Not soliciting the input/direction of the INR analyst regarding the disagreement with the WH (for whatever reason)
  • Hiding the non-involvement of the INR analyst (and therefore the incomplete nature of the memo) in the second printing
  • Redacting the two mentions of Bolton's office's involvement in accepting the forgeries (October 2002) and propagating the Niger claims in the December fact sheet

Items one, two, and three happened during the drafting period (I suspect via a variety of means).

Item four happened with the printing of the July 7 draft (though the changes may have been made before July 7).

Item five happened after the fact, with the declassification period, though it's not clear when.

Re: Name change from "Valerie Wilson" to "Valerie Plame" in various versions of the INR.

The source of the confusion about reference to Valerie Plame in the 6/10/03 memo may be traced back to this CNN report:

Memo with Plame's name marked secret
Administration officials questioned about State Dept. document

Thursday, July 21, 2005; Posted: 11:20 p.m. EDT (03:20 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A classified State Department memorandum that has been the subject of questioning in a federal leak probe identifies a CIA agent by name in a paragraph marked "S" for secret, sources told CNN Thursday.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating the revelation of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, which was published by syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Robert Novak in July 2003.

Novak's column came days after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly questioned part of President Bush's justification for invading Iraq.

Plame is mentioned by her married name, Valerie Plame Wilson, in the memo dated June 10, 2003, said two government sources who have seen the document.


I've seen this (likely mistaken) reference to a name change in the version of the INR read aboard AF-1 a couple of times, and am guilty of repeating it in my response to EW's post at DKos yesterday. The ambiguous, if not misleading, language used in the CNN report may be the source. Ouch.

I am just wondering about John Kokal's "suicide" in November 03. Remember the guy that threw himself off the roof of the State Dept. without his shoes or jacket. He was an INR analyst. I just have this feeling he fits in somewhere here.


No biggy. There were a lot of mistakes and disinformation related to these. And some people with an incentive to make you think the INR memo could have been the source of the entire leak.

hang a left

I brought him up in my last thread on this. For a variety of reasons I don't want to push that angle too hard. But Kokal's death took place between the time the INR memo was supposingly leaked to WSJ (only reports of it were, I'm not convinced) and the SSCI Dems were pushing to expand the SSCI investigation.

Gannon/Guckert may have seen the memo. It depends if his Wilson interview was in fact before the WSJ article. Josh Marshall suggests that the memo was circulated amongst certain conservatives.

Still can not find the reference to the Wilson Plame name change. It was not the CNN article mentioned up thread. Thanks though.

Still looking but doubtful as ew, swopa, jeralyn, josh and jane are better than bloodhounds and none make mention of it.

I still maintain that the name change is plausible but the evidence.....maybe from a dream I had. Still looking.


If the the cover sheets are the covers for the original memos, then we still have no idea when these memos were declassified, no? Unless the FOIA liason (Ahmad) is the declassification authority (meaning they were just recently declassified)?


Yeah, I guess so, though as I said, I suspect INR had to have gotten involved before the SSCI used quotes from this.

Hmmmm, good point EW. As I'm learning, just because a document is declassified doesn't necessarily mean anyone in the public can see it. You still have to get it through FOIA requests, and they can still redact unclassified portions for a myriad number of reasons.

In fact, I looked at the previously released State cable about Thielmann's report, and again, it's not obvious to me who declassified that one either. THe stamps are from the FOIA office at State, the first denied the FOIA request, the second was from the appeals panel who approved in part. But the entire document was marked unclassified, so I guess that means that it was previously declassified before the FOIA requests.

I wonder if many of these documents were unclassified so that Fitz's entire team could have a look at them (I imagine that not everyone in the Special Counsel's office necessarily has security clearances).

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