by Clayton Hallmark
YEARS 1999-2000 Rocco Martino is a double-agent for the French secret service and the Italian intelligence agency SISMI, even though SISMI had officially fired Martino stealing money for himself (not much more than any good intelligence agent would do). The French find out that someone has been working abandoned French mines in Niger. They want to find where the uranium is going and consult Martino.
Martino, needing intel to sell to the French, asks his old friend at SISMI, Antonio Nucera, for help. Nucera introduces him to a lady ("La Signora") who is a SISMI asset (spy) at the Rome embassy of Niger (Niger rhymes with forger). She in turn enlists the cooperation of a Niger employee of the embassy, Zakaria Yaou Maiga, and the three conspire to obtain materials at the embassy to sell to the French.
JANUARY 1, 2001 The little gang simulates a break-in and burglary at the embassy and steals letterhead and some document stamps, the kind that make documents official as a notary stamp does.
The gang types and stamps the amateurish forgeries you see here, including:
Forged letters / Forged contracts - A memorandum of understanding for Niger to supply Iraq some uranium in 2000
An 2-page agreement, as an attachment to the memorandum
Martino conveys the dodgey dossier to the French. The French are the first to get it and immediately see that it is a forgery, having obvious mistakes in naming ministers of the Niger government. That doesn't stop them from paying him.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 Nineteen people -- ostensibly Islalmic fanatics -- crash a few planes, knock down the a few buildings in New York and part of the Pentagon and kill about 0.014 percent of the population of metropolitan New York. In response, the Bush administration decides not just to launch preemptive wars and a war on terror -- but to throw out over 2000 years of Western civilization, jettisoning its heritage of human rights and resorting to torture, wars on civilians, and other crimes of King Herod. In Silvio Berlusconi's "Clash of Civilizations," we immediately run away from ours.
In this atmosphere, Bush is empowered to carry out his family's vendetta against the Hussein family, and the Italian president Silvio Berlusconi seeks to serve his master some intelligence for the vendetta. Berlusconi and the CIA chief in Rome, Jeffrey Castelli, ask the new (effective Sept. 27) SISMI chief, Nicolo Pollari, to get the goods on Saddam.
FALL 2001 General Pollari's SISMI has the Niger forgeries assembled by Rocco Martino and Antonio Nucera (Nucera, Martino's friend, was still working for them). SISMI shows the Niger forgeries -- but does not give a copy -- to the CIA's Castelli in Rome.
Rocco Martino delivers actual copies of the Niger forgeries to Sir Richard Dearlove's MI6 (em-eye-six) in London. The Brits are ahead of the CIA in Rome, which only got to view, not keep, copies of the forgeries.
FALL 2001 IN THE USA - A CIA field officer in Rome, probably COS Castelli, sends the CIA in Washington a memo "that Italian intelligence permitted him see some papers documenting the attempt by Iraq to acquire 500 tons of uranium ore from Niger" (I quote from the Repubblica article). Apparently the Italian SISMI was pushing these forged Niger documents to Castelli as authentic.
OCTOBER 15, 2001 (APPROX.) George W. Bush receives Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the White House.
The CIA in Washington makes its first report on the memo it received from its Castelli in Rome. It is merely an acknowledgment that Italian intelligence has a dossier based on the the Niger forgeries (forgeries the CIA doesn't have and Castelli has only seen) on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger.
FALL 2001 (WASHINGTON) CIA analysts in Washington report that Castelli's memo from Rome is "somewhat limited" and is "lacking in necessary detail." The State Departments intelligence analysts (under Greg Thielmann) report that the Italian intelligence in the Castelli memo is "highly suspect." Remember, the US supposedly still does not have a copy of the forgeries the intelligence is based on, the forgeries presented here.
HERE'S WHERE THE BACK-CHANNEL COMES INTO PLAY
FALL 2001 (ROME) Since the Italian warmongers have been rebuffed by American intelligence, the normal channel for intelligence on WMD -- and still wanting to ingratiate themselves with the American government (American warmongers) -- they turn to political operatives in Washington, the back-channel. These include:
Dick Cheney's and Paul Wolfowitz's White House Iraq Group
The Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (the "Stovepipe") created by Wolfowitz
The office of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice
All of the above have been infiltrated by Israeli agents, as indictments such as Larry Franklin's are only just beginning to show.
AFTER OCTOBER 15, 2001 Italy's defense minister arranges for Pollari to meet in Rome with Pollari's old bridge (card game) buddy Michael Ledeen, an Israel First, anti-Muslim, US neoconservative -- and, like so many other administration neocons, a Republican operative linked back to the Iran-contra black-ops affair of the 1980s. Ledeen is Karl Rove's foreign policy advisor -- Bush's brain's brain -- and he is coming to Rome to look for an excuse for war. He comes not as an official of the US government but as a "scholar" of a Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute and, according to Repubblica, at the request of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans.
DECEMBER 2001 There's a meeting in Rome attended by Ledeen, SISMI's Pollari, Italy's Minister of Defense, the now-indicted Larry Franklin, and Harold Rhode -- a member of the Office of Special Plans, Ledeen's protege, and Iraqi-exile, Iran-spy Chalabi's close associate. The Americans need a cause for war and Pollari just happens to have one waiting -- a DOSSIER on Martino's Niger forgeries. BUT NOT THE FORGERIES THEMSELVES.
THE US DOESN'T HAVE THE NIGER FORGERIES YET -- ONLY CASTELLI'S MEMO AND POLLARI'S DOSSIER -- AND WON'T GET THE SOURCE DOCUMENTS (THE FORGERIES) UNTIL ABOUT A YEAR LATER.
EARLY 2002 Ledeen returns to the neocon cabal in Washington and informs Wolfowitz of Pollari's dossier. Wolfowitz tells Cheney, and Cheney asks the CIA to look into it.
LATE FEBRUARY 2002 Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV (husband of an undercover CIA agent going by the cover name of "Valerie Plame") goes to Niger to check on uranium sales to Iraq. He does it at the request of the CIA and for free. Wilson and the US Ambassador to Niger report that the sales are unlikely.
EARLY 2002 (WASHINGTON) The parallel intelligence conduit (DOD's Stovepipe, which is outside the regular US intelligence chain) distributes Pollari's back-channel dossier (not the forgeries yet) to the regular intelligence agencies, including the following. State Department intelligence tells the CIA the info in Pollari's dossier is implausible, referring among other things to an impossible amount of uranium mentioned in the dossier.
CIA headquarters, however, possibly influenced by having missed warnings signs of the 9/11 attacks, does not discount Pollari's dossier.
JULY 23, 2002 (LONDON) "DOWNING STREET MEMO" / "FIXED" INTELLIGENCE A full eight months before the invasion, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers meet. Notes are taken and a memo written (the Downing Street Memo) that will go public only long after the war starts.
Included in the note-taker's account was an assessment by the chief of British intelligence, after returning from a visit to Washington, that: "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." The WMD part is the Niger forgeries.
MID-2002 Pollari meets his opposite number Tenet near the McLean, VA, headquarters of the CIA. They seem to mistrust each other.
SUMMER 2002 Making an end run around Tenet and the CIA, Pollari holds has an ongoing dialog with Demon-Eyes Rice's office and the Wolfowitz/Feith Office of Special plans at the Pentagon.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2002 Pollari is movin' on up in the US, to the White House. There he meets with Rice's No.2 in the National Security Advisor's office, Stephen Hadley.
SEPTEMBER 2002 In its September 12-19 issue, the Berlusconi-owned Panarama weekly magazine claims that Iraq has bought uranium from African and has attempted to buy aluminum tubes, used in centrifuges for making bomb-grade uranium, from Germany.
SEPTEMBER 2002 Pollari tells the Italian Parliament -- a even more compliant representative body than the US Congress -- that he has no proof of the Niger-uranium claim.
30 DAYS LATER Pollari tells Parliament, no, he does have documentary evidence of uranium sales and attemped attempted centrifuge sales. Italy's intelligence chief is like Will Rogers, apparently -- all he knows is what he reads papers like Panorama.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2002 (LONDON) British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- advance man for the Angel of Death, Bush -- speaks for the first time on attempts by Saddam Hussein to obtain Uranium from Africa. This charge is based on the Niger forgeries that you see here, which Britain obtained about a year earlier. The US had Castelli's (CIA chief in Rome) memo on the forgeries through regular channels, and had Pollari's (SISMI chief) dossier on Iraq-Niger-uranium through the neocons' illegitimate back-door channels (Ledeen, Wolfowitz, Cheney) -- but the US did not have the actual forgeries, yet.
DISSEMINATION OF THE ACTUAL FORGERIES -- MARTINO THE SECOND-STORY MAN AND BACK-DOOR MAN
OCTOBER 2002 With SISMI's Pollari still trying to get the Niger uranium hoax to fly, Rocco Martino, the lead forger who already has given the forgeries to the British MI6, sells them to Elisabetta Burba, a correspondent for -- Panorama. Despite the affiliation with Berlusconi's propaganda sheet, she plays the honest reporter -- the antithesis of the media whoring of Judith Miller of the New York Times and Robert Novak -- and declines to spread the lies in the forgeries.
However, Berlusconi's trusty editor-in-chief sends the Niger forgeries to the US embassy in Rome. Now, finally, the actual Niger forgeries are in American hands, apparently for the first time.
ITALIAN INTELLIGENCE HAD SLIPPED THE NIGER FORGERIES -- THE RATIONALE FOR THE IRAQ WAR -- INTO AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE BY ANOTHER BACK DOOR (THIS TIME, MARTINO AND PANORAMA) SO AS TO LEAVE NO FINGERPRINTS.
OCTOBER 16, 2002 The State Department distributes the Martino/Pollari Niger forgeries (Martino had made them in early 2001, and Berlusconi and Pollari had been pushing them ever since) at a meeting with the regular intelligence agencies, including four CIA officials.
The forgeries are very crude as you can see. The CIA men could see that they would be an embarrasment to Cheney and the US warmongers. Luckily the forgeries disappear for three months. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the neocons) they are found in an internal audit ordered by the CIA inspector-general.
JANUARY 28, 2003 "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Sixteen little words in President Bush's State of the Union speech that will live with famous presidential words like "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (FDR). Contrast the terrorizing words of a demagogue with the reassuring words of a great, benevolent president. Bush was inciting the nation to war based on the crude forgeries you see here.
FEBRUARY 2003 The month before the Niger forgeries are used to start the Iraq war, the International Atomic Energy Agency of the UN needs just hours spread over 10 days to debunk these forgeries, which professionals and amateurs in the intelligence game -- a journalist, ambassadors, the Rome CIA chief, CIA analysts and State Department intelligence in Washington -- already had debunked. There is no way Bush and his administration could have believed their own lies about these forgeries.
Joseph Wilson had noted a year before that the documents were signed by Niger officials who were no longer in government and that they probably were forged. The CIA sent him to Iraq to find out this type of thing, on a request from Vice President Cheney.
The IAEA finds the following ridiculous errors that I could have found myself in a few hours of Googling (if I had had the forgeries):
* In an alleged letter dated July, 27, 2000, the president of Niger refers to the central African nation's constitution of May 12, 1965, but the constitution in place in 2000 was dated Aug. 9, 1999.
* A letter allegedly signed by the foreign minister of Niger on Oct. 10, 2000, bears the signature of Allele Elhadj Habibou, who was actually foreign minister in 1988-1989.
* The official letterhead used is obsolete and includes the wrong symbol for the presidency, as well as references to temporary state bodies - such as the Supreme Military Council and the Council for National Reconciliation - which are "incompatible with the dates of the alleged correspondence."
* The date of a Niger "ordonnance" cited in the alleged agreement is off by 26 years.
MARCH 19, 2003 Bush launches the American Blitz (pumps his hand gleefully as children die in their beds) against military and civilian targets in Iraq, softening up the Iraqi army and children for the US Army's and Marines' attack.
THE NEED FOR A COVERUP -- HAVING USED FORGED DOCUMENTS TO START A WAR, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE SOMETHING IT EVENTUALLY WILL NEED TO COVER UP.
JULY 6, 2003 Seeing the horrors of war that his honest debunking report on Niger uranium should have prevented, Joseph Wilson writes an article in the New York Times, "What I Didn't Find in Africa." What he didn't find was uranium sales to Iraq. What he did find was that the copies you see were forgeries. The White House decides to discredit and punish Joseph Wilson. The cowards go after his wife.
"KILL THE MESSENGER": THE NIGER FORGERIES NOW ARE A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER AND THE OBJECT OF A COVERUP.
JULY 14, 2003 Wilson's CIA wife is unmasked as neocon columnist Robert Novak publishes an article that says "two senior administration officials" (presumably Lewis Libby and Karl Rove) told him Wilson's wife, whom he identifies as Valerie Plame, is a [CIA] operative on weapons of mass destruction." Her cover as a WMD investigator is blown, her career ruined, and what started as the White House's dishonest search for WMD ended up with the White House sabotaging the CIA's legitimate WMD search.
JULY 14 AND 17, 2003 Mathew Cooper of Time writes that government officials have told him Wilson's wife is a CIA official monitoring WMD.
SEPTEMBER 29 TO 30 The US Department of Justice informs White House counsel Alberto Gonzales it is investigating the unmasking of an undercover CIA employee by administration officials.
DECEMBER 30, 2003 Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney in Chicago, is named as special counsel to conduct a grand jury hearing in Washington to see if any crimes were committed in naming Plame.