Thursday :: Dec 1, 2005

Niger forgeries update

by eriposte

UPDATE: See here for another important story/update.

Last week, the U.K. magazine Private Eye published a report on the Niger forgeries. They briefly mentioned this on their website:

Private Eye has obtained a full set of the Niger forgeries which the US State Department used to back up their claim that Saddam was building nuclear weapons. One describes a fantastic collaboration of ‘outlaw’ nations that would be barely credible in an Austin Powers movie.

Also this fortnight in In The Back:

-Full details of the “funky” documents on which America based its case for war

Private Eye was only publishing the article in print and I had been trying to get a hold of the contents. Luckily, today, Solomon Hughes, an investigative reporter who writes for Private Eye sent me the text of the article in the magazine and it has this bombshell (emphasis mine):

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”. Experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency quickly discovered that all the papers were fake, but they did this by spotting errors that had slipped passed the State Department and CIA: 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.

A couple of very quick comments on this. First, although I have not independently verified the claim in the Private Eye article, a quick review of some IAEA communications with Rep. Henry Waxman (posted on his website) seems to suggest that it is possible that the IAEA was not provided the document in question (it's this one). [NOTE: Mr. Hughes sent me an update on 12/2/05 clarifying that "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". He said that he actually spoke to an IAEA representative who confirmed this]. Anyway, more on this later.

A second observation: Private Eye says: "...they did this by spotting errors that had slipped passed the State Department and CIA". Actually, it is not obvious that the other errors actually slipped past the State Department or the CIA, even though that is the cover story offered by the CIA. I will explain more in an upcoming series (but an early hint is in one of my previous posts).

P.S. If you haven't read my Niger forgeries series so far which offered evidence of SISMI compliance in masking the forgeries, click here. The Niger forgeries scandal is just beginning to be unraveled.

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