Italian Journalists and US Bloggers Collaborate on Yellowcake Scam Story
From La Repubblica's November 11, 2005 article "Berlusconi's Men "Cleaned Up" Niger Uranium Dossier" [Nur al-Cubicle's translation]:
The attention of several Democratic Senatorsâ€™ offices has been turned lately to the observations found in a little radical blog (www.theleftcoaster.com): Why does the Senate Report attribute a letter written by Allele Dihadj Habibou to Nassirou Sabo? Who is disinforming whom?
A couple of weeks ago eRiposte from The Left Coaster emailed me for assistance in contacting La Repubblica to share some of his research. I referred eRiposte to Nur al-Cubicle. Looks like eRiposte has connected with the Italian reporters, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo. [UPDATE: eRiposte never emailed la Repubblica (see comments) but somehow they have noticed his blog entries. Emergent Left-Wing Conspiracy, anyone?]
As I mentioned previously, eRiposte has been meticulously comparing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report about the Yellowcake forgeries to the forgeries themselves.
Jumping to conclusions is my specialty so here is my take from reading eRiposte's work and the Repubblica articles:
The Italian Job is a swindle, a scam, a con. Think of a street hustler trying to sell you some stolen goods. They don't want you to see the actual product until after you've handed over the money. All you have to go on are their glowing descriptions, which turn out to not match the product.
We all know the Yellowcake docs are "obvious" forgeries. Which is why, according to my timeline from one of the Repubblica articles, stateside US intelligence doesn't get to see copies of the actual documents until October 16, 2002.
But the first report describing the contents of the Yellowcake docs is dated October 15, 2001. From the SSCI report:
Reporting on a possible uranium yellowcakes 5 sales agreement between Niger and Iraq first came to the attention of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) on October 15, 2001. The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Directorate of Operations (DO) issued an intelligence report DELETED from a foreign government service indicating that Niger planned to ship several tons of uranium to Iraq DELETED.
We know from the Repubblica articles that the "foreign government service" is SISMI, Italy's CIA. This means that, for an entire year (October 2001 to October 2002), claims that Iraq was buying Uranium from Niger were allowed to circulate (in the US government and in the Media) while nobody responsible was allowed to verify the facts by looking at the actual Yellowcake docs.
But there's more. In describing the content of the Yellowcake correspondence, SISMI's October 15, 2001 report, circulated by the CIA, corrects some of the facts contained in the actual Yellowcake docs that would reveal them to be crude forgeries.
One of the most glaring examples, from eRiposte:
In the first Niger intel report from the CIA dated 10/15/01, the following claim was included per the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Report (bold text is my emphasis):
The report also indicated that in October 2000 Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassirou Sabo informed one of his ambassadors in Europe that Niger had concluded an accord to provide several tons of uranium to Iraq. [SENTENCE DELETED] [page 36]
As I showed in Part 1, this particular claim was based on Niger Document 4 (TLC numbering) - another alleged letter. But look who this "letter" is actually signed by in that document:
Allele Elhadj Habibou
Not Nassirou Sabo, but Allele Elhadj Habibou (I mentioned this previously sometime ago). If you do a Google search on Habibou's name you will see multiple sites point out that he was the Nigerien Foreign Minister in 1988-1989 (see here, for example). Considering that the letter was dated October 2000, Habibou could not have been the Foreign Minister of Niger at that time. Who was the actual Foreign Minister of Niger in October 2000? Nassirou Sabo.
This proves that SISMI knew that the Yellowcake docs were a fraud so they actively sought to promote their credibility by "cleaning them up" in their descriptions of them. Repubblica's November 11 article cites two further examples of Nicolo' Pollari (SISMI director) and SISMI vouching for the Yellowcake claims, but again, without ever (until a year later) handing over a copy of the Yellowcake documents in their possession.
To answer eRiposte's question "Who is disinforming whom?" we turn to our handy theory of Emergent Conspiracies: we have multiple players acting primarily out of self interest and independently of central command-and-control, working towards a final result: a conspiracy.
Rocco Martino is a failed ex-intelligence operator, who, together with a former SISMI colleague (Antonio Nucera) and a SISMI asset in the Niger Embassy (La Signora) cooks up a forged set of correspondence with the goal of turning a few bucks by selling it to French Intelligence.
Italian President Berlusconi and his intelligence service when, post 9-11, it becomes obvious the Bush Administration is actively seeking an excuse to invade Iraq, "make themselves useful" by resurrecting Rocco's forged correspondence and by passing off reports about it to US intelligence, with the goal of currying favor with the Bush Administration and getting in on the ground floor of the possible war profits.
US Neocons and those eager to invade Iraq, seize on the Iraq-Yellowcake claims coming from Italy to justify their long-standing goal of invading Iraq. They also seek to minimize and exclude any evidence proving the falsehood of the Yellowcake claims.
The "marks" or victims of the scam conspiracy are the US Congress and the US public. These two groups, for the most part, "bought" the false claim that Saddam was trying to buy Uranium from Niger and therefore agreed with the Neocon's contention that Saddam was an imminent, serious threat to US security.
Buyer's remorse, anyone?