« Anatomy of a White House Smear, 3.4 | Main | Ledeen Loses Control of the Propaganda Apparatus »

June 16, 2006


Or may have been separately forged to give additional credence to a somewhat shaky report.

It is really important to keep coming back to this essential point: Wilson was dangerous because he knew and could expose the false foundations of the WMD claims on which the Bush/Cheney Regime sold the war to the American people. That is why the whole, elaborate cover-up. Thery never could have sold the war on the basis of the real reasons for which it was fought--oil, supposed safety for Israel, and the misguided belief that it would "modernize" the Middle East into friendly market economies.

Yup, I think eR is leaning toward separate forgery. I expect he'll swoop down in here and point to where there is a real forgery somewhere.

But I'd actually restate your point about Wilson. It's not so much that Wilson could disprove them. It's that they knew their own argument to be false. It may well be that they succeeded in burying Wilson's report, so that he didn't really inform them their intell was bad.

But there's plenty of evidence other people did. And just having Wilson pointing that out risked the discovery of the others who HAD warned them.

Oh, please: he makes me, by comparison, look like a disinterested dilettante with no grasp for details.

Good as he is, nobody will ever make you look like that, ew. I wish I had your skills.

The CIA analysts now work at DIA(NSA). Plame chose her husband to go to check on the forgeries. Plame was the feedback at CIA for SISMI and this is logical because she uses her husband's past?

>>> he makes me, by comparison, look like a disinterested dilettante with no grasp for details

Let me borrow from Meteor Blades. Oh please! :-)

Thanks for the nice words :-) And you pre-empted my next post with the mention of the Cheney link. Not that it surprises me :-)

BTW, I don't think there was a separate forgery as much as there was a fabricated "verbatim text" document. In other words, I suspect the "verbatim text" was the forgery...and there was probably no other "accord" forgery.

Well, personally I'm just glad to have both of you out there! EW & eR posts I have to read and re-read, make notes but they are SO WORTH the read and greatly appreciated.


Huh, I do look forward to that post, where you endorse my theory here (the no-forgery verbatim text) and tie it to Cheney. We're getting closer!

Tbe big question remains: Why did the Italian spy agency participate in this fraud? eRiposte has pretty clearly demonstrated that there were knowing conspirators inside SISMI. Were they furthering the goals of the Italian government? Not that I can tell. Had they been compromised by someone else (the U.S. and the Iranians seem like the only reasonable suspects and even those are a stretch)? I just don't see what they got out of it. I


They got to be part of the Coalition of the Future Axis Members, and got dibs on Iraq's oil and the power that accrued from possession of it? After all, they didn't have the troops the Brits did, for their share in the booty. Is it a surprise they were willing to do the heavy lifting on the propaganda front?

What mainsailset said.

william asks "Why did the Italian spy agency participate in this fraud?"

There's a parallel question: why was SISMI was asked to participate? any ideas?

was it simply to internationalize the propaganda?

Hi, I just thought I'd jump in and mention that I've always been intrigued by this passage in the Seymour Hersh Stovepipe article:

Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, "Somebody deliberately let something false get in there." He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

"The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney," the former officer said. "They said, 'O.K, we're going to put the bite on these guys.' " My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. "Everyone was bragging about it—'Here's what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.' " These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

"They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence," my source said. "They thought it'd be bought at lower levels—a big bluff." The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. "It got out of control."

While this has the ring of truth about it, the pinning of the blame on retired CIA seems awfully handy... though it would be out of character of Hersh not to sniff out misinformation.

Of course, "Somebody deliberately let something false get in there" could also imply that the effort to boil up a Niger-Iraq Yellowcake story was already underway, and the retires merely poisoned the stew.

Oh, as to why SISMI, I won't pretend to know the answer, but I imagine it has something to do with who the perpetrator(s) were comfortable working with.

Googling up Michael Ledeen SISMI leads to some interesting reading. Not that Mr. Ledeen had anything to do with this.

"There's a parallel question: why was SISMI was asked to participate? any ideas?"

Just throwing a few out there:

Backchannel aparatus with the necessary outlets already in place? Italy might at first sound better to unsuspecting American public than, say, Byelorus? (Remember, these early reports were noised about during the "Solidarity Forever" phase of post-911 Euro-American amity.) How many places would a poor uranium producer have embassies, anyway? Once you've made up the story of how the thing came to light, you might not have many suitable alternatives.

Of course, you have to wonder where the January, 2001 "theft" of documents and seals from the Rome embassy of Niger fits into all this.

prostratedragon - sure - but why not Washington DC, rather than Rome?

If the cabal did it that way, then they could have cut an entire Security apparatus (SISMI) out of the process - which would presumably mean fewer risks.


Every time intelligence crossed an international border, it gave them another opportunity to hide the provenance of the intelligence by claiming sources and methods. You see something parallel going on with Curveball, who conveniently told the Germans he had an insane hatred of Americans (despite all the American movie posters in his room in Iraq), which meant the Americans only interviewed him once. Beyond that, he was a black box that no sane analysts were allowed to assess directly.

And, as things look now, they probably figured it wise to spread the fraud across international borders to make it harder to investigate and prosecute. I don't think they'll be able to fully expose this network without very high level cooperation between the two countries; Italy doesn't give you everything, nor does the US. But so long as one country stays in friendly hands, that kind of cooperation is unlikely.

One more point, going back to Squirm. One of the most important implications of eR's discovery is that it may not matter who invented the forgeries (it has also been suggested they were invented as part of a counterproliferation sting by the Italians). Because the real operative part of pulling these forgeries off was not the forgeries themselves (indeed, they proved the scheme's undoing), but the actions in SISMI to clean up the forgeries' mistakes and to create the appearance of an Accord.

thanks EW. it was just a question that has been niggling me for a while - and i hadnt really seen explicitly asked/answered.
question a) why an external agency?
question b) why sismi?

One of the most important implications of eR's discovery is that it may not matter who invented the forgeries
i've been trying to untangle this at my place these last few weeks. despite simon's persuasive arguments to the contrary, i've been trying to argue that the creation and the use of the forgeries are possibly/probably separate. if eR is correct, then we are still left with the question about why the forgeries were created. was it simply a rogue operation with someone trying to make a quick $20k?


To add to my comment, I think they went to SISMI in particular for several reasons. It would probably have been either Spain or Italy (insofar as it needed to be a close ally but not one with the possible transparency of the UK--though why they didn't use you Aussies is a good question, now that I think of it). But Italy was probably preferable because of the long history, and the easy availability of Ledeen, who practically lived in SISMI. The role of P2 may be important, too, but I try not to rely too much on old Masonic Lodges.

And yeah, I think eR's post correlates perfectly with your argument. It may be that the real crime came in the laundering of the intell and the false reporting of an accord, not the actual forgeries. But the chances are much greater that the forgeries were invented for only partially nefarious reasons, whereas it was the use of them that was truly nefarious.


I certainly have nothing to add to our estimable host's answer, which makes explicit and very clear the kinds of things I was assuming as background.

What I've wondered about the forged docs themselves was whether there might really be some partial credence to the recently favored cover story, that at an early stage it was about getting some cash for low-level cutouts, and keeping them on tap, by creating these things to peddle to the French. The docs, and Rocco Martino, then become tools in the drawer for SISMI to use later as they see fit.

ew - i have no particular insight into australia's role. AFAIK - the australian intelligence apparatus hasn't been involved in any of these shenanigans - which is quite surprising, as you note.

AFAIK, australia (and australians) has a generally favourable reputation - known for being somewhat independent and trustworthy (notwithstanding our current PM) - and if we know anything about bushco, it's their ability to use and abuse reputations for their own gain.

perhaps we'll see australia playing a lead role wrt iran.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad