Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Italian Job

Laura Rozen has a breaking piece of news over at the Prospect.org (thanks to Josh Marshall for the tip). It's aboot those "crude forgeries" re: uranium in Niger. Rozen confirms an Italian paper's scoop that Stephen Hadley (former National Security #2; now #1) met with the head of Italian intelligence/SISMI in September 2002. If Sept 2002 has any significance, consider that Congress voted on the Iraq resolution one month following this meeting. From Rozen:

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

[The Italian newspaper, La Repubblica] goes on to note the significance of that date, highlighting the appearance of a little-noticed story in Panorama a weekly magazine owned by Italian Prime Minister and Bush ally Silvio Berlusconi, that was published three days after Pollari's meeting with Hadley. The magazine's September 12, 2002, issue claimed that Iraq's intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, had acquired 500 tons of uranium from Nigeria through a Jordanian intermediary. (While this September 2002 Panorama report mentioned Nigeria, the forgeries another Panorama reporter would be proferred less than a month later purportedly concerned Niger.)
The forged documents were cabled from the U.S. embassy in Rome to Washington after being delivered to embassy officials by Elisabetta Burba, a reporter for Panorama. She had received the papers from an Italian middleman named Rocco Martino. Burba never wrote a story about those documents. Instead her editor, Berlusconi favorite Carlo Rossella, ordered her to bring them immediately to the U.S. embassy.
What may be most significant to American observers, however, is the newspaper's allegation that the Italians sent the bogus intelligence about Niger and Iraq not only through traditional allied channels such as the CIA, but seemingly directly into the White House. [emphasis mine]
The Panorama story and Elisabetta Burba stuff just confirms what Seymour Hersh reported in one of his 2003 New Yorker columns. But the SISMI/Hadley meeting is new news for sure! Footnote: what was the U.S. Congress doing to get to the bottom of these forgeries? L'il whitewash: Josh Marshall reminds us that the head of the Senate intelligence committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) went out of his way to squash a CBS/60 min report on the origins of the Niger forgeries.


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