Wednesday :: Jul 27, 2005

Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report: Part 3A-4 (Uraniumgate v2.0)


by eriposte

This is a continuing series focusing on the findings on the "uranium from Africa" issue in the whitewash Senate Report - the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). [Previous parts: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 3A-1, Part 3A-2, Part 3A-3].

In this part we get to one of the most whitewashed aspects of the Senate Report - the forged Niger documents and the CIA/Bush administration narrative about it. (Note that all bold/highlighted text is my emphasis). Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge some research done by reader Pat Conway (I cite his work in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 below). Also, because of the length of this post, I am providing soft-links to the different sections to make for easier reading. Please click on any of the links to start reading.

3A-4. Copy of alleged 2000 uranium sales agreement between Iraq/Niger acquired via an Italian journalist in October 2002 - and its implications

1. PREFACE

2. MAIN FINDINGS

3. PROOF: Single Set of Forged Niger Documents

3.1 "Wednesday, July 7, 2000"

3.2 "Pure uranium"

3.3 Indirect CIA and British admissions

4. PROOF: Original Source Knew Documents Were Forgeries

4.1 The Nassirou Sabo switch

4.2 Court of Niger; 1989

4.3 Wissam Al-Zahawie

5. BUSH ADMIN: WHAT DID THEY KNOW and WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT?

5.1 Who Needs Those Niger Documents? Part A

5.2 Who Needs Those Niger Documents? Part B

5.3 They're forgeries? Really?

5.4 What Niger "documents"?

6. CONCLUSIONS


1. PREFACE

I've seen quite a few people refer to the forged Niger documents in the context of Joseph Wilson's trip and make claims to the effect that Wilson was sent to Niger despite the fact that the intel was based on forged documents. This argument has often been made without a mention of timelines, considering that the forged documents came into public* view (and into the hands of U.S. intelligence supposedly) in October 2002, which is almost 8 months after Joseph Wilson returned from Niger (*I use the word "public" a bit loosely in that it came into the hands of a journalist, outside of the usual intelligence channels, in Oct. 2002). Some bloggers of course have made this distinction clear - for example Billmon recently wrote a post highlighting this issue in a recent Sidney Blumenthal article. Billmon has speculated that there were probably two sets of documents - one which were hard-to-unmask forgeries - which led to Wilson's trip, and another set, which were easy-to-unmask forgeries, which surfaced well after Wilson's trip. Josh Marshall on the other hand has used an indirect admission in a British parliamentary report to infer that there was only one set of forged Niger documents (dismissing claims in the FT about possible independent evidence); I came close to Josh's position when I observed that the CIA (for example) admitted that the forged Niger documents were the basis of their "uranium from Africa" claims. Mary (here at TLC) had posted her own thoughts on this issue not too long ago. In the end, there was sufficient variation in opinion that it made sense to study this question systematically.

2. MAIN FINDINGS

With that background, let me make the following preliminary observations based on a review of the Senate Report.

A. The Senate (SSCI) Report inadvertently offers the evidence one needs to prove that there was only one set of Niger uranium documents, that those documents were forged, that those documents were the basis of the original reports that sent Wilson to Niger (only he didn't know it for sure although I think he made a good guess at one time that they probably were), even though they publicly surfaced several months after the Wilson trip.

B. One of the sources of the first set of reports (late 2001/early 2002) on the alleged Iraq-Niger deal must have been aware that the documents were forged and the evidence suggests strongly that he or she made some effort to mask this fact, until the documents surfaced.

C. The Senate (SSCI) Report, using ambiguous wording regarding the source of the first three intelligence reports received by the CIA (two of which were the basis of Wilson's Niger trip and the third having appeared shortly after Wilson's trip), failed to make it clear that those reports were obviously based on extracts from the forged documents.

D. Based on the finding that the original set of Niger reports were based entirely on extracts from the forged documents, serious discrepancies are evident in the CIA's/Bush administration's claims about how and when they first became aware that the Niger documents were forged and on how they decided that the Niger intelligence was not credible. This raises serious questions about the extent of the Bush administration's manipulation of the truth about the "uranium from Africa" claim, their knowledge of the forged Niger documents, and their motives for attacking Joseph Wilson and exposing Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity.

Finally, even though former Ambassador Joseph Wilson did not know it at the time he was sent to Niger, the alleged claims of an Iraq-Niger uranium deal that led to Wilson's trip to Niger in early 2002, were in fact based on extracts of information passed on to the CIA from the very same forged documents that surfaced publicly later in 2002.

I substantiate these claims in the rest of this post. The statements, obviously, raise a whole slew of additional questions about who knew what and when (as, for example, Laura Rozen, speculating on this very theory, noted last year) - both inside and outside U.S. intelligence. These questions were unfortunately neither raised nor answered within the whitewash Senate Report.

3. PROOF: Single Set of Forged Niger Documents

Numerous websites have discussed the bogus Niger-Iraq uranium documents (obtained via an Italian journalist in Oct 2002) that were shown to be forgeries by the IAEA in March 2003. In this section I provide evidence showing that these documents must have been the basis for the original Niger reports in late 2001 and early 2002.

3.1 "Wednesday, July 7, 2000"

What is clearly most interesting in the Senate Report, is the careful whitewashing of the link between the forged documents and the original claims that preceded the appearance of these documents. To understand why, we need to go back to the very brief comments offered in the Senate Report on the third intelligence report in March 2002 from FIS-A (Part 3A-3):

On March 25, 2002, the DO issued a third and final intelligence report from the same "[foreign] government service." The report said that the 2000 agreement by Niger to provide uranium to Iraq specified that 500 tons of uranium per year would be delivered in [redacted].

...The foreign government service did not provide the DO with information about its source and the DO, to date, remains uncertain as to how the foreign government service collected the information in the three intelligence reports. There were no obvious inconsistencies in the names of officials mentioned or the dates of the transactions in any of the three reports. Of the seven names mentioned in the reporting, two were former high ranking officials who were the individuals in the positions described in the reports at the time described and five were lower ranking officials. Of the five lower ranking, two were not the individuals in the positions described in the reports, however, these do not appear to be names or positions with which intelligence analysts would have been familiar. For example, an INR analyst who had recently returned from a position as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Niger told Committee staff that he did not notice any inconsistencies with the names of the officials mentioned. The only mistake in any of the reports regarding dates, is that one date, July 7, 2000, is said to be a Wednesday in the report, but was actually a Friday. [page 47]

Notice the amazing spin in the Report - although there were notable inconsistencies in names and dates, the report concludes the exact opposite: "There were no obvious inconsistencies in the names of officials mentioned or the dates of the transactions in any of the three reports"!!

Why does this matter? Well, these inconsistencies are anything but trivial. They were clear warning signs that something wasn't kosher with this so-called evidence - signs that should have certainly been apparent once the forged documents surfaced publicly, ostensibly in October 2002 and made it clear that DO's claim of being "uncertain" is highly misleading. Perhaps they did not know the name of the source (perhaps), but they surely must have known by then that the documentary source was the forged Niger documents. Why?

The dead giveaway among the inconsistencies is July 7, 2000 incorrectly being stated as a "Wednesday" rather than a Friday. You want to see a document with "Wednesday, July 7, 2000" associated with an alleged Iraq-Niger sales agreement? It's right here, among the full list of forged Niger documents (scroll down to "ANNEX 1").

You tell me the odds of two supposedly independent sets of documents, describing the same fake deal, having the exact same date error (among other things), and I'll tell you the odds of an elephant hanging off the edge of a cliff using just its tail.

There's the beginning of the real story, well camouflaged by the Senate Report; and it suggests that part of the Valerie Wilson/Plame expose and the fake Wilson-trashing was a concerted attempt to ensure that focus be taken away entirely from the forged documents, their origin, who knew what, when and how - all questions that might have re-surfaced in a very public and unpleasant way in the aftermath of Joseph Wilson's op-ed in early July 2003.

3.2 "Pure uranium"

There's a second piece of evidence that proves that the intelligence reports that sent Wilson to Niger were based on the forged Niger documents.

The Senate Report has an extract from the draft of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) prepared towards the end of September 2002.

Regarding uranium from Africa, the language of the NIE said:
...

  • A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq...

I noticed the parentheses - "pure uranium", which made it clear it was a direct quote from the sourced report.

So, it is no surprise then, that one of the forged documents (first one on this page) has the exact same term used to describe the deal.

The French phrase used is "URANIUM PUR" and the translated version on the same (Cryptome) website is:

IT'S MY HONOR TO REFER TO THE AGREEMENT # 3*1-NI 2000, REGARDING THE SUPPLY OF URANIUM, SIGNED IN NIAMEY ON THE 6TH OF JULY 2000 BETWEEN THE OVERMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NIGER AND THE GOVERMENT OF IRAQ BY THEIR RESPECTIVE REPRESENTATIVES OFFICIAL DELEGATES.

ABOVE MENTIONED SUPPLY EQUIVALENT TO 500 TONS OF PURE URANIUM PER YEAR, WILL BE DELIVERED IN TWO PHASES.

It is fair to say based on just the above examples that the original intelligence reporting was in fact based on the forged documents.

3.3 Indirect CIA and British admissions

When the above two observations (3.1 and 3.2) are coupled with the documented direct/indirect admissions by the CIA and the British that the original intelligence on the alleged year 2000 uranium deal between Iraq and Niger, was in fact based on the forged Niger documents, one can solidify the case that there was only one set of Niger documents.

There's more.

4. PROOF: Original Source Knew Documents Were Forgeries

4.1 The Nassirou Sabo switch

Let's do a comparison between some of the key claims regarding the Iraq-Niger deal in the first three intelligence reports received in Oct 2001/Mar 2002 (Part 3A-1 and Part 3A-3) and the key claims in the forged Niger documents that surfaced ostensibly in October 2002 (available at the Cryptome website). As shown below, the significant similarities between the two sets of claims provides additional evidence for the conclusion that the original intelligence reports were based on extracts that the CIA received from these forged documents.

However, there is at least one notable difference.

The first three reports received by the U.S. regarding the alleged Niger-Iraq uranium sales agreement had these numbers and dates associated with them:

- that Niger and Iraq signed the alleged deal during meetings held July 5-6, 2000
- that the deal was for 500 tons of uranium per year
- that at least one of the documents associated with the deal wrongly stated that July 7, 2000, was a Wednesday (3.1 above)
- that the deal was communicated in October 2000 by Nassirou Sabo, the Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs to one of his ambassadors in Europe

Take a look, now, at the corresponding claims in the forged Niger documents. Here are the corresponding dates and numbers in the fake documents:

- agreement signed on July 6, 2000 (and a letter dated October 2000 mentioning a deal signed on July 5-6, 2000)
- document claiming the deal was for 500 tons of uranium per year
- one of the forged documents mentions Wednesday, July 7, 2000
- alleged accompanying letter to the deal, dated October 10, 2000, sent to the Niger embassy in Rome by the Ailele Elhadj Habibou, the Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs

The most obvious difference between these two sets of nearly identical claims is the name of the Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs. The reports sent to the U.S. evidently, correctly mentioned Nassirou Sabo, whereas the forged documents, which the U.S. had ostensibly not seen at the time of the first three intelligence reports, mentions Ailele Elhadj Habibou, who was no longer the foreign affairs minister since 1989.

This suggests at least two possibilities.

Either the source of the "intelligence" to FIS-A knew that the Foreign Affairs Minister of Niger in October 2000 was not Ailele Elhadj Habibou and provided FIS-A with the name of the actual minister at that time, Nassirou Sabo. Or FIS-A did this before forwarding the "intelligence" to U.S. (and other) intelligence. I have no idea which of these is the case.

Moreover, whoever had this alleged letter in their possession should have independently known it was forged due to the fact that the letter was marked as having been received in Rome on September 28, 2000 even though it was supposedly written on October 10, 2000 (as the Cryptome website points out). So, someone was clearly, deliberately passing on information from forgeries - and correcting some information to keep the fact that they were forgeries, hidden.

4.2 Court of Niger; 1989

Shortly before I was about to publish my findings (above), reader Pat Conway - who saw my ongoing series on uranium from Africa and the Senate Report - wrote to me saying that he had (independently) arrived at the same conclusion (that I had - that there was only one set of documents) based on a detailed analysis of the Senate Report and the forged documents. So I decided to delay publishing my report by a couple of days so that I could take a closer look at what he had to say. Conway forwarded me his report (which also contains Cryptome's English translated versions of the forged Niger documents) and I have posted it as part of The Left Coaster document collection archive. Not surprisingly, he has also covered the three items (3.1, 3.2 and 4.1) that I covered above - which suggested to me, independently, that the research in Sec. 3 and the conclusions made sense.

However, he has gone much farther in his analysis and I think anyone with more than a passing interest in unraveling the mystery behind the forged documents should read his entire report. I don't necessarily agree with his speculations on who may have forged the documents or transmitted "corrected" information to hide the forgeries, or on who got played by whom, but I am more than interested in what appears to be factual commentary in his report.

For instance, here are some of his observations [*updated on 8/1/05 to reflect minor updates to his document] on the forged documents (bold text is my emphasis):

Doc 3: The President’s Letter, Doc 4: The Cover Letter and Doc 5: The Annex are different from the other documents. These three appear to be stuck in some kind of weird time-warp. They appear to be based on Niger info from around 1989.

Doc 3 references Niger’s 1966 constitution. This constitution was suspended in 1991 and a new one adopted in 1993. Doc 4 is written on the letterhead of Niger’s former military government, the “Conseil Militaire Supreme”, which was abolished in May 1989. Doc 4 also claims to be signed by Niger’s foreign minister, Allele El Hadj Habibou. Habibou, however, has not been the foreign minister since 1989.

But Doc 5: The Annex is the most interesting of these three. Doc 5 claims to be an account of the ratification of the Niger-Iraq uranium deal by Niger’s supreme court. It ends with a list of the members of the court who were supposedly present that day:

  • Mamadou Malan Aouami, President of the Court of Niger
  • Hadj Nadjir, Advisor to the Government of Iraq
  • Mahamane Boukari, Interim Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Bandiaire Ali, Attorney General of Iraq
  • Maiga Ali, Clerk of the Court in Chief

Let’s put the implausibility of Iraq sending its attorney general to Niger in abeyance for the moment. What happens when we google a couple of these names? Eventually, what we find is this website here, which, believe it or not, details every one of Niger’s supreme court decisions since 1962. (I know, I was surprised too. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for the Internet!)

All the people listed in Doc 5 are actually Nigeriens and served in Niger’s supreme court in, you guessed it, 1989. Hadj Nadjir and Mahamane Boukari are not advisors to Iraq and the ministry of foreign affairs, respectively, but are “conseillers”, which means they’re just Nigerien lawyers.

The first intelligence report in Oct 2001 talks about the State Court of Niger having ratified the alleged deal in 2000. So Doc. 5 (which also contains the Wednesday, July 7, 2000 mention) must be that "ratification" document.

The question is whether Doc. 5 is the basis of this other comment in the Senate Report regarding the third Niger intelligence report in early March 2002:

Of the five lower ranking, two were not the individuals in the positions described in the reports, however, these do not appear to be names or positions with which intelligence analysts would have been familiar. For example, an INR analyst who had recently returned from a position as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Niger told Committee staff that he did not notice any inconsistencies with the names of the officials mentioned. [page 47]

I'm not sure. But if the Senate Report refers to this document, then it would certainly raise questions about the wording since the individuals were not Iraqis, but Nigeriens. That's a big discrepancy.

Pat also points out this:

“Bandiaire Ali” is not the attorney general of Iraq but is Ali Bandiare, the attorney general of Niger. The Cabal switched his first name with his last and thought no one would notice!

4.3 Wissam Al-Zahawie

Pat has an interesting speculation worth thinking about [*updated on 8/1/05 to reflect minor updates to his document]:

Doc 2: Get Zahawie’s Answer has different idiosyncrasies than Docs 3, 4 and 5. First of all, the name of the government on the letterhead has changed. While Doc 4 refers to the “Conseil Militaire Supreme”, Doc 2 has the “Conseil de Reconciliation Nationale”. The name of the foreign ministry has been updated. “Et De La Cooperation” in Doc 4 has been replaced by “Et De L’Integration Africaine” in Doc 2. The seal of the foreign ministry has also changed (note the placing of the little shield) and a coat of arms has been added to the top of the page. Most importantly, they’ve changed the name of the foreign minister. Instead of Allele Habibou, Doc 2 claims to be signed by Nassirou Sabo.

Close, Cabal, but no cigar! While Sabo was Niger’s foreign minister in October 2000, like the first FIS report says, Doc 2 is dated 30 July 1999. The late nineties, it seems, was a choppy period for the Nigerien foreign ministry. In 1999, the foreign minister was Aichatou Mindaoudou. Sabo did not get the job until January 2000. Another difference is that Doc 2 has the uranium agreement signed on the 28 June 2000, whereas Docs 3, 4 and 5 have it signed more than a week later on the 5-6 July.

So I think that while Docs 3, 4 and 5 were forged sometime before the first FIS report in October 2001, Doc 2 was definitely forged later, probably before the second report in February and after the Cabal had gotten some ‘feedback’.

The second FIS report is the first to implicate Iraqi ambassador Wissam al-Zahawie in the uranium deal. (Robb-Silberman p. 76) Doc 2 also ties Zahawie to the deal, whereas Docs 3, 4 and 5 don’t mention him. I think Doc 2 was forged so the FIS could ‘name-drop’ Zahawie into the second report and clue the CIA to the pre-existing intelligence on Zahawie’s 1999 Niger trip.

Read Pat's analysis for more.

5. BUSH ADMIN: WHAT DID THEY KNOW and WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT?

5.1 Who Needs Those Niger Documents? Part A

The Senate Report notes that:

On October 9, 2002, an Italian journalist from the magazine Panorama provided U.S. Embassy Rome with copies of documents [8] pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. The journalist had acquired the documents from a source who had requested 15,000 Euros in return for their publication, and wanted the embassy to authenticate the documents. Embassy officers provided copies of the documents to the CIA's [redacted] because the embassy, which did collect the information, was sending copies of the documents back to State Department headquarters. [page 57]

Because some important details have been redacted it is not clear which CIA division or group received a copy of the documents and on what date. However, what is clear is that the CIA (esp. in the United States) could not have received the copies from the embassy prior to October 9, 2002. Yet, in a mysterious twist to the CIA's earlier position on the "uranium from Africa" claim, between October 2, 2002 and October 6, 2002 - prior to the CIA's ostensibly seeing the forged documents - top players in the CIA (including the Deputy DCI and the DCI) personally made efforts to try and dissuade the White House, and strongly so, from including the "uranium from Africa" claim in speeches.

Clearly, this raises the question as to what the CIA knew even before they ostensibly received a copy of the forged documents, that changed their minds regarding the "uranium from Africa" claim. (Remember, the CIA kept claiming that they did not know the documents were forgeries until after the IAEA exposed them in March 2003.) And why, despite the above, did the Bush State of the Union claim on "uranium from Africa" persist?

UPDATE 8/1/05: Emptywheel at The Next Hurrah has a link to a March 2003 Washington Post article which raises similar questions:

Well this argument becomes very interesting when you consider this WaPo article from March 22, 2003, which was the CIA (and IAEA's, I suspect) first disavowal of the war. This article makes it clear that the CIA knew well before the IAEA told them the Niger documents were false.

U.S. intelligence officials said they had not even seen the actual evidence, consisting of supposed government documents from Niger, until last month. The source of their information, and their doubts, officials said, was a written summary provided more than six months ago by the Italian intelligence service, which first obtained the documents.

...
But more importantly, this article refers to a summary of the Niger documents that they had received more than 6 months previously. More than 6 months from March 22, 2003 would put you before September 22, 2002. And during the production of the NIE that justified the war with Congress.
...
Unless it appears in one of the redacted sections, this report is not mentioned in the SSCI Report. The only place it might appear in September is in the redacted passage on the British White Paper pages 49-50 (perhaps the Brits received this report, but not the CIA?).

5.2 Who Needs Those Niger Documents? Part B

As the Senate Report points out, INR figured out that there was something dubious and implausible with this alleged agreement soon after receiving it on October 15, 2002, and passed them on to representatives from the CIA, DIA, DOE and NASA on October 16, 2002. Mysteriously though, the Senate Report tries to make us believe that these obviously fake documents never percolated efficiently through the various intelligence agencies (especially the CIA) due to carelessness or irrelevance (!) and then largely ignores it by saying that the FBI is investigating it:

On October 16, 2002, INR made copies of the documents available at the NIAG meeting for attendees, including representatives from the CIA, DIA, DOE and NSA. Because the analyst who offered to provide the documents [who had already determined they were of a dubious nature] was on leave, the office's senior analyst provided the documents. She cannot reveal how she made the documents available, but analysts from several agencies, including the DIA, NSA and DOE, did pick up copies at that meeting. None of the four CIA representatives recall picking up the documents, however, during the CIA Inspector General's investigation of this issue, copies of the documents were found in the DO's CPD vault. It appears that a CPD representative did pick up the documents at the NIAG meeting, but after returning to the office, filed them without any further distribution.

The CIA told the Committee its analysts did not seek to obtain copies of the documents because they believed that the foreign government service reporting was verbatim text and did not think it would advance the story on the alleged uranium deal. One analyst noted that, at the time, the CIA was preparing its case [redacted] on reconstitution and since the uranium reporting was not significant to their argument, getting the documents was not a priority. [pages 58-59]

Does anyone really believe this bizarre story?

I ask because, taken along with the earlier observations, it is indeed strange that the CIA, which ostensibly received what were supposed to be authentic validations of claims almost identical to what they had been hearing for almost a year from the foreign intelligence service (FIS-A), did not even think these were worth looking into or reviewing, considering that these documents might have given them the firm documentary proof in their own hands for the "uranium from Africa" claim. (Remember, the CIA kept claiming that they did not know the documents were forgeries until after the IAEA exposed them in March 2003.)

In other words, we are led to believe that when faced with the ostensible first-hand proof for a deal that matched in most particulars the information received from FIS-A over the previous 12 months, the CIA's response was "hey, it's not that important folks"? Talk about the dog that did not bark!

5.3 They're forgeries? Really?

The CIA acknowledgement from the Senate Report, relating to the forgery, is as follows:

On June 17, 2003, nearly five months after the President delivered the State of the Union address, the CIA produced a memorandum for the DCI which said, "since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false documents earlier this spring, we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." This memorandum was not distributed outside the CIA and the Committee has not been provided with any intelligence products in which the CIA published its corrected assessment on Iraq's pursuit of uranium from Niger outside of the agency. [page 71]

However, this raises even more serious questions about what happened internally in the Bush administration.

Clearly, the fact that the CIA withdrew the uranium claims internally as early as the first week of October 2002 (Sec. 5.1 above), before seeing the forged Niger documents, shows that the above explanation was in contradiction to that.

Moreover, the CIA's reluctance to analyze or use the forged Niger documents in October 2002 (5.2 above) makes it even more difficult to believe that they somehow never knew about the forgeries until March 2003.

All in all, having confirmed that the original set of Niger reports were based on the forged documents, it is clear that the Senate Report has indirectly revealed that there are several serious discrepancies in the CIA's/Bush administration's purported claims regarding the sequence of events on the "uranium from Africa" issue. What is not as clear is who knew what, how, and when. Did the Bush administration manipulate the available information and force the CIA to provide information contradicting the known facts? That wouldn't exactly be new.

[NOTE: As a bonus, if the reports from FIS-A in late 2001 and early 2002 were based on independent evidence (separate from the forged Niger documents), there would not have been any need for the CIA to make the statement above after the IAEA debunking.]

5.4 What Niger "documents"?

There's another unusual section in the Senate Report where they discussed the issue of whether or not former Ambassador Joseph Wilson had been told that documentary proof of the claims that were the basis of his trip to Niger existed.

Third, the former ambassador noted that his CIA contacts told him there were documents pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction and that the source of the information was the [redacted] intelligence service. The DO reports officer told Committee staff that he did not provide the former ambassador with any information about the source or details of the original reporting as it would have required sharing classified information and, noted that there were no "documents" circulating in the IC at the time of the former ambassador's trip, only intelligence reports from [] intelligence regarding an alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal. Meeting notes and other correspondence show that details of the reporting were discussed at the February 19, 2002 meeting, but none of the meeting participants recall telling the former ambassador the source of the report [redacted]... [pages 44-45]

When I read this, I found it rather odd that the second occurrence of the word documents was specifically enclosed in quotation marks (*). It's odd because the entire paragraph preceding it has no such quotation marks (*) associated with the word documents or documentation. The fact that "documents" appeared in the DO's response suggested that perhaps some legalese was being used in this sentence and it made me wonder whether the DO or any one in the Senate Commitee specifically asked for this word to be enclosed in quotation marks (*). This may appear rather trivial, but it is important because this goes to the heart of what kind of documentation specifically was circulating in the IC prior to Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger, and when. (* corrected from parentheses)

6. CONCLUSIONS

In this post I have provided evidence supporting the following observations:

A. The Senate (SSCI) Report inadvertently offers the evidence one needs to prove that there was only one set of Niger uranium documents, that those documents were forged, that those documents were the basis of the original reports that sent Wilson to Niger (only he didn't know it for sure although I think he made a good guess at one time that they probably were), even though they publicly surfaced several months after the Wilson trip.

B. One of the sources of the first set of reports (late 2001/early 2002) on the alleged Iraq-Niger deal must have been aware that the documents were forged and the evidence suggests strongly that he or she made some effort to mask this fact, until the documents surfaced.

C. The Senate (SSCI) Report, using ambiguous wording regarding the source of the first three intelligence reports received by the CIA (two of which were the basis of Wilson's Niger trip and the third having appeared shortly after Wilson's trip), failed to make it clear that those reports were obviously based on extracts from the forged documents.

D. Based on the finding that the original set of Niger reports were based entirely on extracts from the forged documents, serious discrepancies are evident in the CIA's/Bush administration's claims about how and when they first became aware that the Niger documents were forged and on how they decided that the Niger intelligence was not credible. This raises serious questions about the extent of the Bush administration's manipulation of the truth about the "uranium from Africa" claim, their knowledge of the forged Niger documents, and their motives for attacking Joseph Wilson and exposing Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity.

Finally, even though former Ambassador Joseph Wilson did not know it at the time he was sent to Niger, the alleged claims of an Iraq-Niger uranium deal that led to Wilson's trip to Niger in early 2002, were in fact based on extracts of information passed on to the CIA from the very same forged documents that surfaced publicly later in 2002.

The above observations obviously raise a whole slew of additional questions about who knew what and when. These questions were unfortunately neither raised nor answered within the whitewash Senate Report.

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