Wednesday :: Nov 2, 2005

Treasongate: The Niger Forgeries v. the CIA Intel Reports - Part 3: The "Nassirou Sabo" Letter

by eriposte

This is the next part of a series (see Introduction, Part 1 and Part 2) 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 another one of the CIA claims and the presence of false information in the corresponding Niger forgery (Doc 4) 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 Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Report (bold text is my emphasis):

The report also indicated that in October 2000 Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassirou Sabo informed one of his ambassadors in Europe that Niger had concluded an accord to provide several tons of uranium to Iraq. [SENTENCE DELETED] [page 36]

As I showed in Part 1, this particular claim was based on Niger Document 4 (TLC numbering) - another alleged letter. But look who this "letter" is actually signed by in that document:

Allele Elhadj Habibou

Not Nassirou Sabo, but Allele Elhadj Habibou (I mentioned this previously sometime ago). If you do a Google search on Habibou's name you will see multiple sites point out that he was the Nigerien Foreign Minister in 1988-1989 (see here, for example). Considering that the letter was dated October 2000, Habibou could not have been the Foreign Minister of Niger at that time. Who was the actual Foreign Minister of Niger in October 2000? Nassirou Sabo.

Again, this revelation is not new. What has been missed to-date however, is this: considering how Niger Doc 4 is one of the important documents in the Niger dossier (it formed the basis of one or more of the CIA claims), isn't it strange that the CIA (or INR) would not have not noticed the wrong name in the document, referring to the wrong Nigerien foreign minister? As I said in my previous post, 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. 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 (according to various reports). Obviously, the forgers of the documents would not have taken the trouble to specify a different name when they first fed SISMI the (contents of the) forgeries (why include the wrong name in the first place and then try to change it?).

That's not all.

There was another aspect to Niger Doc 4 that showed it was bunk. It was dated 10/10/2000, but marked received in Rome on 9/28/00. Let's just say that time travel back to the past hadn't been invented in the year 2000. Were the CIA (and INR) told that the received date was earlier than the sent date? It seems to me that they were not. Who would have hidden this information? Certainly not the forgers.

The road seems to lead to SISMI. If we assume that the CIA and INR did not lie to the SSCI, a likely explanation is that the group in SISMI that was feeding this information on to the CIA (and other countries) was changing (or hiding) some of the 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. Of course, it may be argued that there was another copy of the same letter, forged with Nassirou Sabo's name (and with a corrected date) - which has not surfaced yet. While this is theoretically possible, it would still mean that the first recipient of the original document (likely SISMI) noticed the errors and asked for a "fixed" version. Otherwise, why would the forgers bother to correct their obvious third-rate forgeries? Either way, the notion that SISMI was merely being a passive middleman is hard to reconcile with the facts. At the minimum, SISMI (and the CIA) should provide an explanation.

In a post some months ago, I said:

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.

FIS-A referred to SISMI. Having given this more thought - and recognizing that the forgers certainly had no reason to correct the information they provided to SISMI (why forge the documents with wrong information in the first place?), I am now left with the conclusion that someone in SISMI must have been correcting the information before they sent it to the CIA.

More to come...

P.S. The spelling of Habibou's name is Allele and not Ailele. In my previous posts I may have used the word Ailele because that was used by the Cryptome website. My apologies for the error.

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