Plame Game - Two, Two, Two Documents in one!

Down for the count today - flu kicking me fanny. Never blog on Nyquil.

Just a guick note via a tip from a regular reader.

Christopher Hitchens nails Joe Wilson again. Hitchens gives more background to my theory that Wilson was in Niger in 1999 brokering a deal for uranium for Iraq - simple as that. Activity which by the way would send Wilson up the river for about 120 years in Federal terms - you know, colaboration with enemy. But then since Wilson had certain 'ties' to the Clinton Administration who knows what was taking place "Under the Palms".

Chris also gives this theory on the origin of the forged Niger documents.

"However, the waters have since become muddied, to say the least. For a start, someone produced a fake document, dated July 6, 2000, which purports to show Zahawie's signature and diplomatic seal on an actual agreement for an Iraqi uranium transaction with Niger. Almost everything was wrong with this crude forgery—it had important dates scrambled, and it misstated the offices of Niger politicians. In consequence, IAEA Chairman Mohammed ElBaradei later reported to the U.N. Security Council that the papers alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium connection had been demonstrated to be fraudulent.

But this doesn't alter the plain set of established facts in my first three paragraphs above. The European intelligence services, and the Bush administration, only ever asserted that the Iraqi regime had apparently tried to open (or rather, reopen) a yellowcake trade "in Africa." It has never been claimed that an agreement was actually reached. What motive could there be for a forgery that could be instantly detected upon cursory examination?

There seem to be only three possibilities here. Either a) American intelligence concocted the note; b) someone in Italy did so in the hope of gain; or c) it was the product of disinformation, intended to protect Niger and discredit any attention paid to the actual, real-time Zahawie visit. The CIA is certainly incompetent enough to have fouled up this badly. (I like Edward Luttwak's formulation in the March 22 Times Literary Supplement, where he writes that "there have been only two kinds of CIA secret operations: the ones that are widely known to have failed—usually because of almost unbelievably crude errors—and the ones that are not yet widely known to have failed.") Still, it almost passes belief that any American agency would fake a document that purportedly proved far more than the administration had asked and then get every important name and date wrapped round the axle. Forgery for gain is easy to understand, especially when it is borne in mind that nobody wastes time counterfeiting a bankrupt currency. Forgery for disinformation, if that is what it was, appears at least to have worked. Almost everybody in the world now affects to believe that Saddam Hussein was framed on the Niger rap.

According to the London Sunday Times of April 9, the truth appears to be some combination of b) and c). A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was—follow me closely here—that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection."

Now from The London Sunday Times:

"Some time in 2002, however, they (French) obtained another apparently incriminating document, the source said. This was a letter purporting to be from al-Zahawie relating to a visit to Niger in 1999 to discuss the possible supply of uranium. This did not constitute evidence that Niger had agreed to supply yellowcake but it did indicate Saddam was trying to obtain it.

The letter, deemed “credible” by the Butler inquiry into Iraq intelligence, appears to be the evidence that led to Bush’s claim in January 2003 that the British had “learnt that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”.

Now I might note that this London Sunday Times article was written by the notorious document copier Michael (Texas/London) Smith - of Downing Street fame - so a grain or two of salt is in order for anything he writes. But nonetheless while he still tries to twist even the possibility (fact of order if you will) that Saddam had in fact attempted to buy uranium into a "Bush ratted out Plame" spew, the fact remains that the so-called SOTU 16 words, were in fact correct.

The question is then who was behind the set up. It certianly wasn't two two-bit forgers trying to make a buck - that motivation is simplistic, but far too convenient.

More at Polipundit.