Monday :: Jul 17, 2006

Uranium from Africa: How "Bought" Became "Sought" - Part 2-6: Was the SSCI Report's first Niger conclusion correct?

by eriposte

The announcement of the Wilson lawsuit is an opportune moment to post the next part of my series examining the origins of the "bought" v. "sought" semantics of the uranium from Africa allegation. In previous parts (see Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 2-1, Part 2-2, Part 2-3, Part 2-4, Part 2-5) I demonstrated how the allegation of Iraq having "sought" uranium was actually based on intel that alleged that Iraq had purchased uranium from Africa. In particular, the evidence is crystal clear that the uranium allegations regarding Niger and Iraq in the Oct 2002 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) were entirely based on the SISMI reporting of an alleged uranium purchase by Iraq.

In this part, I just want to quickly revisit the SSCI Report's first conclusion of the Niger section:

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]

I have commented previously on why this conclusion was highly misleading and irrelevant 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 (Iraq "may" have been seeking uranium just as Iraq "may" have been trying to send a man to the moon). By slyly altering the basis of the Bush administration's claim (replacing a statement of certainty with a statement of ambiguity), Conclusion 12 was clearly intended to mislead and provide partial cover for the fraud that was perpetrated on the American people.

What I'd like to emphasize in this post is that this conclusion was deliberately misleading for another reason - as I've demonstrated in previous parts of this series, none of the intelligence that formed the basis of this conclusion supported the claim that Iraq was only seeking uranium from Africa (Niger). Even the most charitable interpretation of this nonsensical conclusion requires that we not only ignore the contradictory intelligence the CIA had by then which completely questioned the basis for the original SISMI allegations, but also the fact that the dubious intel actually alleged that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger - and that the use of the wording "sought" or "seeking" was used as a proxy by the U.S. IC to describe intel that Iraq had purchased uranium.

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