Thursday :: Jul 17, 2003

Crude Forgeries, Gross Lies

by Mary

Posted by Mary

Today the CIA reported that they did not get handed the Niger documents until February, after the SOTU. So although they are responsible for vetting the correctness of the intelligence, they are not privy to seeing the data.

The CIA didn't receive the documents until February 2003, nearly a year after the agency first began investigating the alleged Iraq-Africa connection and a short time after it assented to language in President Bush's State of the Union address that alleged such a connection, the officials said.

Without the source documents, the CIA could investigate only their substance, which it had learned from a foreign government around the beginning of 2002. One of the key allegations was that Iraq was soliciting uranium from the African country of Niger.

The CIA has been taking flack because it signed off on the bad intelligence. Well, this has been a pattern for awhile. Last March, the administration said that the CIA signed off on the charges in the fact sheet where Niger was explicitly named:

The State Department's December fact sheet, issued to point out glaring omissions in a declaration Iraq said accounted for all of its prohibited weapons, said the declaration "ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger." Asked this week to comment on the fact sheet, a CIA spokesman referred questions on the matter to the State Department, where a spokesman said "everything we wrote in the fact sheet was cleared with the agency."

Once the CIA got a copy of the documents (given to them by who knows by whom since this is one of the remaining secrets), the administration gave a copy to the IAEA, who had been asking them for months -- ever since they had seen the reports in late 2002. Once the IAEA got a copy, they were able to easily discover they were very badly done forgeries.

The Blair government says that they had additional evidence supporting their September dossier's charge that Saddam was trying to acquire nuclear material. However, back in March when the IAEA reported that they had discovered the forgery, they asked both Britain and the US some more questions.

The IAEA asked the U.S. and Britain if they had any other evidence backing the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium. The answer was no.

Part of the controversy that is swirling around Blair is the fact that he is insisting that they did too have additional evidence. However, this approach can cause other problems:

IAEA officials never saw Britain's so-called genuine evidence, despite the fact that UN member countries were expected to provide all relevant intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN inspection teams.

Blair and Jack Straw were cross-examined this week by the intelligence and security committee about this affair. This committee is investigating the charge that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium and the 45 minute charge.

A good synopsis of what is now known about the British charges that Iraq was a threat to the west can be found in last Sunday's BBC news:

Of the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction", not one has been shown to be conclusively true.

Aside: I've updated the timeline with new information concerning the aluminum tubes.

Updated stale links on 7/16/2005.

Mary :: 12:07 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!