A Possible Red Herring
A quick note regarding the AP report about the Italians having communicated to the White House in January 2003 about the bogus nature of the Niger documents. Of course, the person who made the claim appears to have retracted it now, but there's more to it.
I say that because even the senior leadership of the CIA knew no later than late September 2002 or early October 2002 that the Niger uranium claims were not worth the paper they were printed on. I discussed that in one of the posts in my SSCI Report series. There was even a Washington Post article (from March 22, 2003, via Emptywheel at The Next Hurrah) that mentioned this (emphasis mine):
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.So, I am inclined to see today's claim and retraction as being serious and worth investigating further, but ultimately a bit of a red herring. To understand the crux of the uranium from Africa hoax we have to travel back to at least Fall 2001, shortly after 9/11. (If you want to understand why, you may want to catch up with my ongoing series).
Another point. I've been reading the statements emanating from the Italian Government over the past few days and let me just say that they are very carefully parsing their words. Today's claim and retraction is probably a slip under the pressure of the moment.
If there are serious reporters out there who want to break open the Italian story, I would suggest you contact me or read my series which I hope to conclude by this weekend.