Thursday :: May 4, 2006

Uranium from Africa: How "Bought" Became "Sought" - Part 2: The U.S. uranium claim pre-October 9, 2002

by eriposte

This is the introduction to the next part of a series (see Introduction, Part 1) examining the origins of the "bought" v. "sought" semantics of the uranium from Africa allegation. Starting with this post, I turn my attention to the uranium allegation in U.S. intelligence community (IC) reporting, as described in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on pre-war WMD intelligence.

The first phase of my analysis of U.S. IC reporting (the sub-parts to Part 2) will focus on the time period prior to October 9, 2002 - which is the date when Elisabetta Burba, the reporter from Panorama magazine, turned over copies of many of the Niger forgeries to the U.S. Government. The reason for picking the pre-9-Oct-2002 time period is this first conclusion of the Niger section in the SSCI Report:

K. Niger Conclusions

(U) Conclusion 12. Until October 2002 when the Intelligence Community obtained the forged foreign language documents [9] on the Iraq-Niger uranium deal, it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reporting and other available intelligence. [page 72]

Let me point out briefly that this conclusion of the SSCI Report is highly misleading even at face value. After all, the Bush White House's position wasn't that "Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa". Rather the White House's position was that Iraq had, in fact, sought uranium from Africa. But, let's set that aside for now because the SSCI Report's Conclusion 12 was a strawman (Iraq "may" have been seeking uranium just as Iraq "may" have been trying to send a man to the moon). My interest in this series is a much more fundamental question:

Did the intelligence cited by the U.S. IC on uranium and Niger, prior to the IC's receipt of the Niger forgeries, support the claim that Iraq had only sought uranium from Niger?

If you read Part 1, the significance of this question becomes straightforward.

We should also ask a related question:

Was the US IC describing "intel" alleging a uranium purchase as "intel" pointing to an attempt to purchase (seek) uranium?

These are the questions I will answer in the rest of this series. Unlike my past coverage of this matter, where I focused almost entirely on the credibility of the uranium intel, my focus will mainly be on the semantics of the intel - the wording used to describe it - because the semantics played a huge role in the hoax perpetuated by the Bush administration, especially after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson surfaced in public.

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