Clumsy Forgeries, Italian-Style

The March 2005 report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction contained a scathing chapter on the "intelligence" President Bush used to justify Operation Iraqi Freedom:

"As war loomed, the U.S. intelligence community was charged with telling policymakers what it knew about Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. The community’s best assessments were set out in an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, a summation of the community’s views."

"These assessments were all wrong."

The Senate Intelligence Committee had already come to similar conclusions about the quality of the intelligence. Now, the committee is supposed to be investigating how the administration used – or misused – that intelligence to build public support for the war

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was a top priority for the Bush-Cheney administration, and every weenie in the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the neo-crazies in and out of government and their media sycophants knew it.

Moreover, Bush-Cheney made sure many weenies – in and out of government – in London, Paris, and Rome knew it, too.

You see, Bush-Cheney needed an excuse and a rationale to invade Iraq.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave them the excuse.

How about a rationale?

Well, the only justification for a preemptive invasion of Iraq acceptable to you soccer moms would be proof positive that Saddam Hussein had – or soon would have – nukes.

But there was a problem. The International Atomic Energy Agency had already certified in 1998 – before being forced to exit Iraq to avoid being killed accidentally by Clinton’s bombing of Baghdad – that there no longer existed in Iraq any indication of a capability to produce nukes or the makings thereof.

So Cheney-Wolfowitz had to come up with "intelligence" proving Saddam had engaged in nuke-related activities in 1999 or 2000.

In December, 2001, Cheney and his cabal began promoting within our intelligence community and with neo-crazy media sycophants two bits of ‘intelligence’ provided by "the intelligence service of a foreign government."

One was that Saddam had recently attempted to buy specialized high-strength aluminum tubes, which Cheney and his cabal insisted – despite the opinions of experts to the contrary – could only be used as rotors in uranium-enrichment gas centrifuges.

The other was that Iraq had recently arranged to buy up to 500 tons of uranium oxide – "yellowcake" – from Niger.

After nine months of concerted effort, Cheney and his cabal managed to get both these bits of "intelligence" incorporated into the October 2002 NIE cited by the Commission.

Now – on the eve of possible indictments in the CIA-Plame affair – come investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d’Avanzo to post this blockbuster exposé (part 1 and part 2) at La Repubblica magazine’s Web site.

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

"They are the same two hoaxes that Judith Miller, the reporter who betrayed her newspaper, published (together with Michael Gordon) on September 8, 2002."

According to Bonini and D’Avonzo, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – who wanted to curry favor with President Bush, who had already asked him to provide any "intelligence" the Italians had that might indicate Saddam Hussein was reconstructing his nuke programs – sent Nicolo Pollari, the Italian equivalent of our director of Central Intelligence, to meet with Stephen Hadley (then-deputy national security adviser to Bush) in the White House on Sept. 9, 2002.

Pollari later told the Italian Parliament’s intelligence oversight committee that he told Hadley:

"We had documentary proof of the acquisition by Iraq of uranium ore from a central African nation. We also know of an Iraqi attempt to purchase centrifuges for uranium enrichment from German and possibly Italian manufacturers."

That same week that Pollari met with Hadley, Berlusconi caused an article to be published in Panorama – a magazine Berlusconi owns – entitled "War With Iraq? It Has Already Begun," wherein the "intelligence" provided Hadley is "confirmed."

The actual “documentation” for the arranged purchase of yellowcake by Iraq from Niger was delivered to the U.S. embassy in Rome on Oct. 9, 2002.

Someone leaked that documentation to the IAEA just days before Bush invaded Iraq, with Berlusconi in tow. Within a matter of hours, the IAEA pronounced the documents "clumsy" forgeries.

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.