Historic Opportunity

Last week, James Moore, a former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, wrote an op-ed piece entitled “Fitzgerald’s Historic Opportunitythat appeared originally at HuffingtonPost.com and has since been reposted elsewhere.

Quoth James Moore:

“Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence.

“The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider.”

Moore continues, alluding to the information that has just come into Fitzgerald’s hands.

“Fitzgerald has reportedly asked for a copy of the Italian government’s investigation into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source of the forged documents.

“The blatantly fake papers – which purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get yellowcake uranium from Niger – turned up after a December 2001 meeting in Rome involving neocon Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin, Harold Rhodes and Niccolo Pollari, the head of Italy’s intelligence agency SISMI and Antonio Martino, the Italian defense minister.

“Is Fitzgerald examining the possibility that Ledeen was executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for invading Iraq?”

Since Moore wrote his op-ed piece, investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d’Avanzo have posted a three-part blockbuster expose at the La Repubblica magazine’s website.

“The military intervention in Iraq was justified by two revelations: Saddam Hussein attempted to acquire unprocessed uranium (yellowcake) in Niger (1) for enrichment with centrifuges built with aluminum tubes imported from Europe(2).

“The fabricators of the twin hoaxes (there was never any trace in Iraq of unprocessed uranium or centrifuges) were the Italian government and Italian military intelligence.”

According to Bonini and d’Avanzo, the Niger-Iraq documents were actually forged by Rocco Martino and his associates in the Italian military intelligence service sometime in 2000. Martino – “a dishonest cop and a crooked spy” – eked out a living by providing information to the French about the Italians and information to the Italians about the French.

The French suspected that someone had been “working” their abandoned uranium mines in Niger. If so, who? And where was that stolen uranium-ore going? Could Martino – the spy – find out?

At the end of the 1980s – when Saddam actually was covertly pursuing a nuclear-weapons program – Italian intelligence agents had kept track of procurement agents Saddam deployed to Europe and Africa.

Also, in 2000, the Italians had intercepted a telex from Niger’s Italian ambassador to the Niger Foreign Ministry informing them that Wissam al-Zahawie, the Iraqi Ambassador to the Vatican, would be visiting Niger as a representative of Saddam Hussein.

So Martino and low-level Italian intelligence associates forged the Iraq-Niger documents – melding decade-old Italian intelligence with the ambassador’s telex – and sold them to the French. Who promptly threw them away.

Martino and associates also tried to foist off the forged documents onto the Brits and the CIA. No luck. Everyone realized almost immediately they were clumsy forgeries.

Then somehow, just after the meeting in Rome that Moore describes, either the documents, themselves – or a report as to their substance – came into Vice-President Cheney’s possession.

Hey!

That’s just what Cheney and his cabal had been looking for ever since 9/11. So Cheney and Libby began beating on the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department. Go find out what this report is all about.

All three sent emisaries to find out; all three reported the report was without foundation.

Copies of the forged documents apparently continued to float around covertly for months. The forged documents first overtly appeared on October 9th, 2002, when they were delivered to the US Embassy in Rome by an Italian magazine to whom Rocco Martino had given them.

So Moore is probably wrong about Rowe and Ledeen being involved in the original forgeries. But he may well be right that Rowe and Ledeen were involved in their overt appearance and the subsequent use thereof.

Hence, on the eve of possible indictments being handed down in the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, it appears that Fitzgerald may convene a new grand jury to investigate the circumstances under which such clumsy forged documents were used by the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal to justify the preemptive invasion of Iraq.

Stay tuned.

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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.