Tuesday :: Nov 1, 2005

Treasongate: The Niger Forgeries v. the CIA Intel Reports - Part 2: The 1965* Niger Constitution


by eriposte

This is the third part of a series (see Introduction and Part 1) focused on comparing the CIA intel reports on Niger to the corresponding contents of the relevant Niger documents (mostly forgeries) to understand how the forgeries were "mainstreamed" and to what extent Italian intelligence (SISMI) was complicit in this affair. This part focuses on one of the CIA claims and the presence of false information in the corresponding Niger forgery (Doc 3) that is missing in the CIA claim.

In the first Niger intel report from the CIA dated 10/15/01, the following claim was included per the Senate (SSCI) Report:

According to the cable, Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja gave his stamp of approval for the agreement and communicated his decision to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. [page 36]

As I showed in Part 1, this particular claim was based on Niger Document 3 (TLC numbering). That document is an alleged letter dated 7/27/2000, written by the Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. While the bulk of the text of the letter seems deceptively real, this sentence in the letter is a dead giveway that the letter is a fake (bold text is my emphasis):

HAVING SEEN AND INSPECTED THE SAID DEAL. I APPROVE IN ALL AND EACH OF ITS INVOLVED PARTIES IN REGARD TO THE POWERS INVESTED IN ME BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THE 12TH OF MAY 1965*. [Eriposte note: Please see the footnote to this post below regarding the year 1965.]

Why? Niger's constitution has been revised multiple times since 1965*. The 1965* constitution had in fact been suspended as of 1991 (as Pat Conway noted) and a new one instituted in 1992. As the State Department fact sheet on Niger also points out:

The constitution of December 26, 1992 was revised by national referendum on May 12, 1996 and again by referendum on July 18, 1999.

So, if the letter had been written in 2000, it would have referred to the July 1999 constitution, not the May 1965* constitution. (In all likelihood, the original document which the forgery was based on must have been drafted in 1991 or earlier - likely in the late 1980s). That said, this revelation about this Niger document is not new. What has been missed to-date however, is this: considering how Niger Doc 3 is one of the important documents in the Niger dossier (it formed the basis of many of the CIA claims), isn't it strange that the CIA (or INR) would not have not noticed the giveaway sentence right in the middle of the document, referring to the obsolete 1965* constitution?

As you will see in my subsequent posts, this is not the only instance where a false piece of information in one of the Niger documents failed to show up in the CIA reports. I find it inconceivable that the CIA and INR (especially the latter, which was strongly against the uranium claim from day one) would have missed this sentence. So, how do we explain this discrepancy? Well, recall that the CIA likely did not receive the full verbatim text of this alleged letter or the corresponding forged document from SISMI (or any other sources) until sometime in Fall 2002. Prior to Fall 2002, they likely received select extracts from the Niger forgeries passed off as "reliable" intel. Who did they receive these extracts from? SISMI. Obviously, the forgers of the documents would not have taken the trouble to hide the sentence on the 1966 constitution when they fed SISMI the forgeries (why include the sentence in the first place and then try to hide it?). So, if we assume that the CIA and INR did not lie to the SSCI, the only plausible explanation appears to be that the group in SISMI that was feeding this information on to the CIA (and other countries) was deliberately excluding information that would have made it clear that what they were passing on was junk. This is easy to do when you are only sending extracts, rather than photocopies of the originals.

More to come.

*Footnote added on 12/1/05: The year is likely 1965, not 1966 - see this post for an explanation. So all references to 1966 in the original post have been changed to 1965.

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