Plame Game - "Psss, hey buddy, want to buy some Genu-ine Nigerian Documents?"

A few commenters mentioned this article which is the so-called "blockbuster" result of a FBI investigation into the Niger Forgeries. The verdict:

"WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI has determined that financial gain, not an effort to influence U.S. policy, was behind the forged documents that the Bush administration used to bolster its prewar claim that Iraq sought uranium ore in Niger.

The FBI's investigation began after questions were raised about a brief portion of President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech when he said that Iraq was pursuing the uranium ore, part of his argument to justify the coming invasion of Iraq.

Some U.S. and foreign officials disputed the authenticity of documents, supporting Bush's contention, that showed Saddam Hussein was seeking the uranium ore for a nuclear weapons program.

The FBI had refused comment on the matter until Italian news sources reported this week that FBI Director Robert Mueller sent the Italian government a letter in July with the results of the bureau's two-year investigation.

The investigation ``confirmed the documents to be fraudulent and concluded they were more likely part of a criminal scheme for financial gain,'' FBI spokesman John Miller said Friday, describing the contents of the letter."

It was for the money baby!

Isn' it always? Our man (the plastic suspect) Rocco Martino get's pegged again as the "source" of the docs, although the Italians say, "siete idiots errati!"

So, Rocco was trying to make a few bucks on the deal? Maybe, but I don't buy it. AJ Strata on this wrote:

"But he (Rocco) made no money. He asked for $10,000 dollars, but when rebuffed gave them over. Now let’s think about this for a moment. Martino is ex secret service - he knows how these forgeries must look (if he forged them). He must know how easily they could be traced to the break in at the Rome Niger consulate (if he was the one who broke in). They were traced there because of the stolen seal and letter head used in the forgeries, and the intermingling of real documents.
So someone who could break into a Niger consulate in Rome, undetected, and then create forgeries will go through all this trouble to simply hand them over? Doubtful. Martino sounds like a washed up has been being used by the real masterminds to be a mule or conduit to the western intelligence agencies."

Rocco couldn't have been the source. Whoever did them had to be a rank amature - or they wanted them to be found out. But who? Well, let's review possible suspects and motivations.

Early in this story Seymour Hersh's often quoted "Stove Pipe" story:

"Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is nothing approaching a consensus on this question within the intelligence community. There has been published speculation about the intelligence service of several different countries. One theory, favored by some journalists in Rome, is that sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.

Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year (2002) and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

“The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’ ” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here’s what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’ ” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

“They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

Hmmm, Retired former Intel officers. Who could that be, no don't' tell me......maybe.....those guys and gals of VIPS?

Well, they are on my 'short list' as those with the greatest motivation for stopping the war. But did they create the docs? Again, the simplicity of them begs that question.

Yet again, as Seymour and others have said, Perhaps they were designed to "be discovered". That seems likely. Let's say it was like Seymour said. They pushed thse forged docs in order to stop the coming attack on Iraq. But it backfired and the Bush Administration pulled the trigger instead of holstering the gun? Quite possible and likely. Those who had an interest in keeping the Yellow Cake scam going and flowing would have pulled anything to keep the bank open.

But then that brings up the origin of the docs. If you listen to Rocco he got them from an anoymous lady at the Nigerian embasssy, but since he's a known con-man, ....hoo hum.

The obvious answer at this point is that they were given to him by way of their creators. Laura Rosen through her source posted on this last week.

But to me, while trying to put together the trail of the docs, I think the key to tracing their origin is as simple as the uniqueness of them. I remember back in the day that when someone wanted to "make something up", they would simply use old stationary, trace signatures, etc. Pretty easy stuff and sometimes worked, "unless someone knew what to look for".

We know of that these docs were discovered to be forgeries because they had old stamps, wrong dates and names.

Incidently, something Wilson knew before he should have known.

So the question, who is would be the most likely person to have some old Nigerian docs laying around in a drawer or briefcase, maybe some that they picked up during previous trips to the region.

Well, as I told you, only one person I know had been in Niger at that 1999. I asked this simple question in this post:

"Now the question: What was Wilson doing in Niger in 1999? That is besides the "Uranium issues". I wonder though, Did Joe happen to bring back, oh.. any Nigerian "letterhead" with him from his trip to Niger in 1999? Would have been real convenient if he did. In fact it would have been down right helpful for somebody "close" to Joe with connections to "Giacomo", could then really get things "cooking". Not much needed. Just a little "date" here, a little "name" there, and "Presto!" Insta-Docs!

Maybe that would explain....

"Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have "misspoken" to reporters."

Back in July of this year Jack Kelley, asked a similiar question of Wilson's amazing foreknowledge:

"In September 2002, the British government published a white paper in which it made public British intelligence's belief that Saddam had tried to buy uranium in Africa. A month later, the CIA received from an Italian source documents purporting to show that Niger and Iraq had done a deal. These turned out to be forgeries.

President Bush mentioned the British findings in his State of the Union address in January 2003. In his leaks to Pincus, and earlier to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Wilson claimed Bush knew this was false. The key sentence in Pincus' story is this:

"Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong,' the former U.S. government official said."

Wilson's official role ended when he returned from Niger in March. The CIA didn't get the Italian forgeries until October. Wilson had no access to them. He either was making up what he told Kristof and Pincus, or he had received an unauthorized leak of classified information."

So the question we have now is where does the "money" angle come in? Well, just from the AP story, it seems a simple case of Rocco just trying to con a few bucks out of someone. But that cannot be the case. The fact is that without the FBI report, we don't know what "financial gain" means.

But I think what we have is what I've suspected, that the Niger docs were a ploy to stop the invasion of Iraq - the Golden Goose, which would be a rather large monetary reason involving a lot of people.

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