On March 17, 2003, ten days after the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency publicly reported to the UN Security Council that,
“One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.
“Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.
“Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuge out of the aluminum tubes in question.”
Henry Waxman, then the Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, began formally requesting of Condi Rice, then Bushs National Security Adviser, an explanation of the use, by President Bush and other top Administration officials, of “fabricated intelligence” to “justify” Bushs exercise of the highly conditional authority Congress had provided under the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.
That Resolution authorized Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be “necessary” and appropriate in order to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”
We now know that Bush-Cheney came into office, intending to invade and occupy Iraq. But they needed an excuse and a rationale.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon provided the excuse.
But, in his final report before being forced to withdraw from Iraq by President Clinton at the end of 1998 Director-General ElBaradei had reported,
“The verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved its program objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely acquired such material.
“Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.”
But even more significantly, ElBaradei reported that
“There were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically coherent picture that had evolved of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and the information contained in Iraq’s ‘Full, Final, and Complete Declaration.‘”
Hence, as of January 1999, if any country in the world was certified to be nuke program free, it was Iraq.
So, in December, 2001, Cheney and his Cabal began promoting within our intelligence community and with neo-crazy media sycophants two bits of ‘intelligence’ recently 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 IAEA 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 highly controversial bits of “intelligence” incorporated into the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate of Iraqs WMD capabilities.
We now know that the already discredited Niger yellowcake intelligence was included only as a footnote, “for completeness.”
So, in early October, 2002, CIA Director George 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 Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States 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 and would have nukes to give terrorists within a year or less.
So, the Security Council had ElBaradei and his IAEA inspectors go back in and conduct a total of 218 inspections at 141 sites, including 21 sites designated by Bush that the IAEA had never inspected before.
Result? On March 7, 2003, ElBaradei told the Security Council,
“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.”
Ten days later, Waxman requested answers from Bushs National Security Advisor.
Two days after that, Bush invaded Iraq.
Now, Waxman is Committee Chairman and is demanding answers to his many questions about that use.
On cue, Peter Eisner of the Washington Post trots out a piece of “investigative journalism” that appears to absolve the White House.
Eisner, who is evidently not much of an investigative reporter, implies that the Bush-Cheney White House first learned about the Niger documents shortly after October 9, 2002, when Elisabetta Burba, an investigative reporter for the Italian newsweekly Panorama, delivered them to the US Embassy in Rome.
But, in 2005, on the eve indictments in the CIA-Plame affair investigative reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d’Avanzo posted 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, then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who President Bush had asked for 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 to then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice) 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.“
The same week that Pollari met with Hadley [Condis deputy], 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 [Condis deputy] is “confirmed.”