Thursday :: Feb 16, 2006

Uranium from Africa: Why did the CIA completely back off from the uranium claim in 2002? - Introduction

by eriposte

Readers familiar with my analysis and reporting on the uranium from Africa hoax are probably aware that there are significant parts of the uranium from Africa story that haven't been completely fleshed out to-date. I intend to now turn my attention back to that story, especially given that Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation may be close to the margins of the Niger forgeries.

Among the many questions that deserve serious analysis is this one:

Why did the CIA, sometime in 2002, completely back off from the claim that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Africa?

The declassified portions of the Senate (SSCI) Report did not really do proper justice to this question (for example, except for a single sentence mentioning the British uranium claim - which the CIA found to be highly dubious, the SSCI Report's entire discussion of the British claim is classified and redacted). The answer to this question is very important because it would reveal what information the CIA may have received regarding the uranium claim prior to October 2, 2002 (the date of the Deputy DCI's testimony to the SSCI saying that the uranium from Africa reporting was not credible).

This question has been at the back of my mind ever since I originally attempted to raise awareness on when the CIA really knew that the uranium claim was entirely dubious. Alert readers may recall this extract from the Senate (SSCI) Report (emphasis mine):

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]

The significance of this extract is that although the CIA (Langley) claimed that they did not receive copies of the Niger forgeries prior to October 9, 2002, in a mysterious twist to their earlier position on the "uranium from Africa" claim, between October 2, 2002 and October 6, 2002 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 using the claim because they deemed the corresponding intelligence (and the British White Paper's claims on this issue) to not be credible. In other words, even before the CIA supposedly received a copy of the forged documents, they backed off from the NIE claim on Saddam Hussein having sought "uranium from Africa". (NOTE: In a previous post, I showed why the uranium claim nevertheless got included in Bush's 2003 SOTU speech - it was due to a WINPAC "stovepipe").

In this series I will draw upon what we know to-date on the uranium from Africa topic to lay out why the CIA likely backed off from the claim.

P.S. There is another reason for this series beyond answering the question raised by the title. This will set the stage for me to examine in a subsequent series, what the CIA really knew about the Niger forgeries and when they knew it.

eriposte :: 8:14 AM :: Comments (4) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!