Harmful to National Security

President Bush went to Congress in September 2002 seeking “specific statutory authorization” to invade Iraq. Bush based his case on a National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs prepared the month before by the Director of Central Intelligence.

Tenet’s NIE reportedly contained "slam-dunk" evidence that Saddam had been – among other things – reconstructing his nuke programs.

As of January 2002, the International Atomic Energy Agency assessed that there were "no indications" that there remained in Iraq "any physical capability" to produce "weapons-usable nuclear material."

Nevertheless, Bush, Cheney and Condi-baby began citing Tenet’s NIE far and wide, warning of the need to divest Saddam of “the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

In his January 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush told us that “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Then, just weeks before Bush invaded Iraq the IAEA concluded that the “documentary evidence” in Bush’s hands that Saddam had sought to buy uranium-oxide (“yellowcake”) from Niger were “blatant forgeries.”

On May 6, 2003, the New York Times published a column by Nicholas Kristof that upset Cheney and his cabal. And Kristof’s follow-up column on 12 June panicked them.

"Condoleezza Rice was asked on “Meet the Press” on Sunday about a column of mine from May 6 regarding President Bush’s reliance on forged documents to claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa.

"That was not just a case of hyping intelligence, but of asserting something that had already been flatly discredited by an envoy investigating at the behest of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Piecing the story together from two people directly involved and three others who were briefed on it, the tale begins at the end of 2001, when third-rate forged documents turned up in West Africa purporting to show the sale by Niger to Iraq of tons of “yellowcake” uranium.

"Italy’s intelligence service obtained the documents and shared them with British spooks, who passed them on to Washington. Mr. Cheney’s office got wind of this and asked the C.I.A. to investigate.

"The agency chose a former ambassador to Africa to undertake the mission, and that person flew to Niamey, Niger, in the last week of February 2002. This envoy spent one week in Niger, staying at the Sofitel and discussing his findings with the U.S. ambassador to Niger, and then flew back to Washington via Paris.

"Immediately upon his return, in early March 2002, this senior envoy briefed the C.I.A. and State Department and reported that the documents were bogus, for two main reasons.

"First, the documents seemed phony on their face: for example, the Niger minister of energy and mines who had signed them had left that position years earlier.

"Second, an examination of Niger’s uranium industry showed that an international consortium controls the yellowcake closely, so the Niger government does not have any yellowcake to sell.

"Officials now claim that the CIA inexplicably did not report back to the White House with this envoy’s findings and reasoning, or with an assessment of its own that the information was false.

"I hear something different.

"My understanding is that – while Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet may not have told Mr. Bush that the Niger documents were forged – lower CIA officials did tell both the vice president’s office and National Security Council staff members.

"Moreover, I hear from another source that the CIA’s operations side and its counterterrorism center undertook their own investigations of the documents, poking around in Italy and Africa, and also concluded that they were false – a judgment that filtered to the top of the CIA."

Now, thanks to Cheney, his cabal and their media sycophants, the whole world knows that;

  • Ambassador Joseph Wilson was the CIA’s envoy
  • Wilson’s wife – Valerie Plame, an expert on "weapons of mass destruction" – was a covert operative in the Directorate of Operations working [perhaps] in the above-cited "counterterrorism" center which "also concluded" the documents were bogus
  • Brewster-Jennings & Associates of Boston was Valerie’s "[and perhaps other CIA covert agents’] cover."

How much damage to our National Security was done by the "outing" of Plame and Brewster-Jennings?

We don’t know, since the nine pages – wherein Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald successfully made his case to the Appellate Court for compelling Judith Miller and others to testify before his grand jury – were redacted, presumably because they contained highly classified information.

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.