Wednesday :: Feb 22, 2006

Treasongate: The Niger Forgeries v. INR Reports - "Global Support", Part B

by eriposte

In Part A, I used an INR analyst's observations on the "Global Support" Niger forgery to show that the CIA (and INR) must have had in their possession one or more forged Niger uranium documents that have not yet been publicly revealed. (In a follow-up post I showed how the data available so far indicates that contrary to the impression given by the Bush administration, they must have received at least one or more forged Niger documents from a source other than Elisabetta Burba).

In this post, I want to follow-up on the "Global Support" forgery to highlight another significant incident associated with that forgery. I mentioned this briefly before, but I thought it deserved a re-airing, along with an update to the story, given the sharper focus on some of these documents.

Let's recall again how obviously bogus the "Global Support" document was. As the INR analyst pointed out (emphasis mine, through this post):

(U) On January 13, 2003, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst sent an e-mail to several IC analysts outlining his reasoning why, "the uranium purchase agreement probably is a hoax." He indicated that one of the documents that purported to be an agreement for a joint military campaign, including both Iraq and Iran, was so ridiculous that it was "clearly a forgery." Because this document had the same alleged stamps for the Nigerien Embassy in Rome as the uranium documents, the analyst concluded "that the uranium purchase agreement probably is a forgery." When the CIA analyst received the e-mail, he realized that WINPAC did not have copies of the documents and requested copies from INR. CIA received copies of the foreign language documents on January 16, 2003. [page 62]

Again, the "completely implausible" document that the INR analyst was referring to is the forged document commonly referred to as the "Global Support" document (TLC Niger Doc 8).

So, what happened when the time came to share the "evidence" of Saddam Hussein seeking uranium from Niger with the U.N., as was required per the U.N. charter?

First, the Bush administration kept delaying sending anything to the IAEA until after the Bush State of the Union had transpired. Then they sent copies of the Niger forgeries to the IAEA/U.N. on February 4, 2003 (SSCI Report page 67). But, as the British publication Private Eye discovered, they deliberately withheld the obviously bogus "Global Support" document from the IAEA. Here are some extracts from the Private Eye article (which are not available on the web and were sent to me by reporter Solomon Hughes), with all emphasis being mine (unfortunately the formatting from the original article is not preserved here):

When the US State Department finally gave international weapons inspectors its “evidence” that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from the African State of Niger in 2003, they held back the one document even their own analysts knew was “funky” and “clearly a forgery”...The fact that the US government handed over the whole bundle of what became known as the “Niger Forgeries” except the one paper they recognised as a hoax suggests they were trying to pass off documents they knew were phoney as the real thing.
The INR analyst’s warnings did not stop the US government referring to an Iraq-Niger connection in their efforts to build support for war, but they did affect how the Americans dealt with international weapons inspectors. On January 6th, Jacques Baute of the International Atomic Energy Authority [sic - Agency] (IAEA) asked the American’s to supply evidence to back their assertion in a December “Fact Sheet”, that Iraq was making “efforts to procure uranium from Niger." The US has a legal duty to provide any evidence of nuclear misbehaviour to the IAEA, which was in charge of monitoring Iraqi nuclear ambitions. America’s first response was prevarication. A month later the US finally showed the papers to the IAEA . However, Private Eye has established that they did not hand over the full Niger dossier: They held back the one paper that they knew to be a fraud and that they knew discredited the whole sheaf. IAEA inspectors did not receive the “hoax” paper with a “funky” stamp before the Iraq war and were unaware of its existence until now. While the paper does not deal directly with the Niger claims, it has volumes to say about the credibility of the papers and so should have been passed to the IAEA. It does also contain a reference to nuclear weapons, which also means US officials had a duty to pass it to the IAEA.

Caught up in an intensive round of travel, the IAEA’s Jacques Baute did not have time to properly look at the Niger papers he was given until March 2003. As soon as he sat down and looked at them Baute found “the documents contained numerous indications of forgery--flaws in the letterhead, forged signatures, misspelled words, incorrect titles for individuals and government entities, and anomalies in the documents”....Private Eye repeatedly asked the State Department to explain why they had not passed the crucial document on to the IAEA, but received no reply.

Before discussing the specific contents above, let me make another point. Some of the text I have not included from the article captures the spin in the Senate (SSCI) Report about how the CIA did not figure out that the forged documents were, er, screamingly bogus and forged. Let me say again that it is not at all obvious that the CIA somehow could not figure out the documents were blatant forgeries. In fact, almost every action taken by the CIA after receiving the forgeries from the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October 2002 suggests they knew the dossier was a stinker. I won't go into this in detail right now, but I've provided a hint on this previously.

Back to the topic of the Bush administration hiding the "Global Support" document from the IAEA. Their actions speak for themselves. They obviously figured the IAEA would not believe their cover story if they had included the "Global Support" document - so they hid it.

There's more. In an email exchange with me, Mr. Hughes also added this piece of information:

Just to reiterate, the IAEA say they received ten to twelve pages of documents [...] and these did not include the “Global Support” paper.

This indicates that documents other than the "Global Support" document were also hidden from the IAEA (since there were at least 17 and possibly 22 pages in the possession of the U.S. Government). I wonder what those documents were.

A final point of clarification. In an email exchange with the reporter (Solomon Hughes) I asked him to clarify the highlighted part of this statement in the Private Eye article:

IAEA inspectors did not receive the “hoax” paper with a “funky” stamp before the Iraq war and were unaware of its existence until now.

I mentioned to Hughes that:

Can you confirm that you actually spoke to IAEA and they confirmed this?
The reason I am asking is that the “Global Support” document has been available in the public domain for some time now and it was mentioned in the Senate Select Committee of Intelligence report in 2004.

Hughes sent back a correction; specifically, he not only confirmed he got IAEA on the record on this whole thing, he also said:

It should really say "IAEA inspectors did not receive the “hoax” paper with a “funky” stamp before the Iraq war and indeed have never been supplied with this document."

That settles it.

P.S. I'd like to thank Mr. Hughes for sending this to me and answering my questions.

eriposte :: 10:59 PM :: Comments (7) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!