Fixing and Forging

On May 6, 2003, the New York Times published a column by Nicholas Kristof that included the following:

"I rejoice in the newfound freedoms in Iraq. But there are indications that the U.S. government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to change their conclusions, and concealed contrary information to deceive people at home and around the world.

"Let’s fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with al-Qaeda."

Everything Kristof itemizes above had been "reported" – beginning in September 2002 – to exist in Iraq by Judith Miller of the New York Times.

Miller has since admitted that her reports – all of which turned out to be wrong – were based upon "intelligence" provided to her by Ahmed Chalabai. But Miller claims she got confirmation of that "intelligence" from various high-level Bush-Cheney administration officials.

We now know – from the Downing Street memos – that the Bush-Cheney White House and the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith-Perle Pentagon had begun to fix the intelligence to justify a war against Iraq almost a year before the war officially began.

The White House Iraq Group was founded in September 2002 to promote support for the war against Iraq.

How?

Largely by providing fixed intelligence to Miller and other neo-crazy media sycophants, here and abroad.

Turn again to the May 6, 2003 column by Kristof:

"Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously.

"I’m told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president’s office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger.

"In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged."

Now, what is curious about Kristof’s column is he has "someone" reporting that the envoy reported that "the documents had been forged."

Yet, in an op-ed piece authored by Joseph Wilson two months after Kristof’s column, envoy Wilson says he was sent to Niger because of an intelligence report in Cheney’s possession that referred to a memorandum of agreement documenting the sale of uranium yellowcake by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990s.

Wilson said he never saw the intelligence report. Nor did he ever see the memorandum of agreement.

Perhaps because, at that time, it didn’t exist.

In late 2001, the Italian Military Intelligence and Security Service had informed the CIA that the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican had reportedly attempted on a visit to Niger to arrange the purchase of yellowcake.

There was, at that time, no documentation.

In February 2002, Wilson and others went to Niger and reported back that the Italian report was without foundation.

Hence, in early October 2002, CIA Director Tenet asked that a reference to the alleged purchase of yellowcake by Iraq be removed from a speech President Bush was to give on Oct. 7.

Guess what happened next.

The "documentation" for the arranged purchase of yellowcake by Iraq from Niger was delivered to the U.S. embassy in Rome on Oct. 9.

The next day, Congress approved the Joint Congressional Resolution Authorizing the Use of U.S. Armed Forces Against Iraq.

And Bush, Cheney, and Condi Rice began referring to the Niger documents as proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstructing his nuclear weapons program.

The documents were provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency in March 2003, and within hours were determined to be forgeries.

Days later, Bush invaded Iraq.

Result?

The IAEA had been right. There had been no attempt whatsoever to reconstruct Saddam’s nuclear weapons program.

Furthermore, Wilson revealed that a year before the invasion he had found no evidence in Niger that Saddam had even thought of reconstructing it.

So, now you know why someone forged the Niger yellowcake documents. But who forged them? And when did they forge them?

Here’s a hint: maybe "fixing" intelligence includes forging.

Read more by Gordon Prather

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. — ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.