Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report: Summary and Conclusions
This post wraps up my 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). The previous parts of this series are: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 3A-1, Part 3A-2, Part 3A-3, Part 3A-4, Part 3A-5, Part 3A-6, Part 3A-7, Part 3A-8, Part 3B, Part 3C.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
In the Jan. 2003 State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush claimed that:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa
Even after the op-ed in July 2003 by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, apologists for the Bush administration (including Senate Republicans) have asserted either that the Senate Report proved Bush's claim was justifiable based on what was known at the time of the SOTU, and/or that his claim was vindicated based on evidence from Niger (other than the forged documents) and/or other countries.
In this series I have provided incontrovertible evidence, based on an analysis of the Senate Report, that the reality was/is as follows:
1. The Senate Report did not conclude or prove that Saddam Hussein was, in fact, seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Indeed, it demonstrated that there was no credible evidence to substantiate that claim (prior to the SOTU, certainly prior to the Iraq invasion and most certainly after the Wilson op-ed), with or without recourse to British intelligence. [The Iraq Survey Group also found that there was no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa].
2. The Senate Report establishes without any doubt that Bush's SOTU claim was based on intel from Niger (and specifically based on the contents from the forged Niger documents), and not on intel from the Democratic Republic of Congo or Somalia (or other African countries). The latter countries were clearly added to the public relations (PR) battle purely to push post-facto myths to recover from the PR disaster resulting from the Bush administration's retraction of the SOTU claim after the Wilson op-ed.
3. Despite it's attempts to ignore or sidestep this fact, the Senate report also left many telltale signs that attempts were made by the White House to misrepresent the views of the intelligence community or use dubious, uncorroborated information (something that has been obvious in the public record for a long time). What's more, in an attempt to cover up their book-cooking of intelligence information, the White House and then-NSA Condi Rice flat out lied by claiming that Rice never read the entire NIE.
4. The Senate Report inadvertently offers evidence proving that there was only one set of Niger uranium documents, that those documents were forged, and that those documents were the basis of the original reports that sent Wilson to Niger - even though they ostensibly surfaced several months after the Wilson trip in the hands of an Italian journalist.
5. 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.
6. The Senate 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.
7. Contrary to the public position of the CIA/Bush administration that the CIA only became aware of the dubious nature of the Niger intelligence after the IAEA publicized the Niger forgeries in early March 2003, it is clear that the CIA became aware of it no later than late September (to early October) 2002 and made several attempts to get the claim out of Bush administration speeches or reports, even before the copy of the forged documents (received by an Italian journalist) was ostensibly provided to them. The repeated use of the dubious Niger information in Bush administration speeches, despite the CIA efforts, raises obvious 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 real motives for attacking Joseph Wilson and exposing Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity.
8. Former Amb. Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger, rather than providing support for claims regarding Iraqi attempts to procure uranium from Niger (Africa), provided strong evidence against this when viewed in conjunction with other evidence available at that time.