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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Fake Niger Documents

"It is now clear that Italy’s intelligence service, SISME, had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in early October 2003 that purported to show a deal with Niger to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with longstanding ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain: Either SISME or someone with ties to SISME helped forge and circulate those documents, which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq".

Dick Cheney's Covert Action

Face it, America. You’ve been punk'd.

It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam—and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic “covert action” program against the citizens of the United States.

Covert action refers to behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to plant stories, manipulate information and shape public opinion. In other words, you write stories that reporters will publish as their own, you create media events that tout a particular theme, and you demonize your opponent. Traditionally, this activity was directed against foreign governments. For example, the U.S. used covert action extensively in Greece in the 1960s to help fend off communists. Covert action also played a major role in rallying world support for the Afghanistan mujahideen following the Soviet invasion in 1979.

Revelations during the past week about the Plame affair make it clear that the Bush administration used covert action against its own citizens. Consider, for example, the charge that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The key event in this disinformation campaign was the intelligence manufactured by the Italians. The Italian intelligence service, SISME, provided the CIA with three separate intelligence reports that Iraq had reached an agreement with Niger to buy 500 tons of yellowcake uranium (October 15, 2001; February 5, 2002; and March 25, 2002). The second report, from February, was the subsequent basis for a DIA analysis, which led Vice President Cheney to ask the CIA for more information on the matter. That request led to the CIA asking Ambassador Joe Wilson to go check out the story in Niger.

We learned last May that in the summer of 2002, the Bush administration told our British allies that they would "fix the facts" around the intelligence. In other words, the United States sought to manufacture a case that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear capability. Note, not only did bogus intelligence reports and fabricated documents surface, but senior administration officials—Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney—went to great lengths to try to convince Americans that the United States would soon face the wrath of Iraqi attacks. Remember the smoking mushroom cloud?

Despite repeated attempts by the Italian intelligence service to help us cook the books, the senior CIA intelligence analysts resisted the administration’s effort to sell the bogus notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger. Even in the much-maligned October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the entire intelligence community remained split on the reliability of the Iraq/Niger claim. During briefings subsequent to the publication of the NIE, senior CIA officials repeatedly debunked the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. They also dismissed as unreliable reports from Great Britain, which also were derived from the faulty Italian intelligence reports.

It is now clear that Italy’s intelligence service, SISME, had a hand in producing the forged documents delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in early October 2003 that purported to show a deal with Niger to buy uranium. Many in the intelligence community are convinced that a prominent neocon with longstanding ties to SISME played a role in the forgery. The truth of that proposition remains to be proven. This much is certain: Either SISME or someone with ties to SISME helped forge and circulate those documents, which some tried to use to bolster the case to go to war with Iraq.

Although some in the intelligence community, specifically analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Energy, believed the report, the intelligence community as a whole did not put much stock in the reports and forged documents, and repeatedly told policy makers that these reports were not reliable. Yet the Bush administration ignored the intelligence community on these questions, and senior policymakers—like Vice President Cheney—persisted in trying to make the fraudulent case.

Two weeks before President Bush spoke the infamous 16 words in the January 2003 State of the Union speech, the Department of Defense was fanning the flames about Iraq’s alleged Nigerien uranium shopping trip. Starting in late 2001, senior Department of Defense officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, provided favored military talking heads with talking points and briefings to reinforce messages the administration wanted the public to remember.

One of those who frequently attended these affairs, Robert Maginnis, a former Army officer and now a commentator for Fox News and the Washington Times , published an op-ed on January 15, 2003, for United Press International, subsequent to one of the briefings. In writing about the case for attacking Iraq, Maginnis affirmed that Saddam, “failed to explain why Iraq manufactures fuels suited only for a class of missile that it does not admit to having and why it sought to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger.”

Notwithstanding repeated efforts by intelligence analysts to downplay these intelligence reports as unreliable, DOD officials fanned the flames. This, my friends, is one example of “cooking intelligence.” These facts further expose as farce the Bush administration’s effort to blame the CIA for the misadventure in Iraq. We did not go to war in Iraq primarily because of bad intelligence and bad analysis by the CIA. The Bush administration started a war of choice.

While CIA did make mistakes, and while some key members of the National Intelligence Council were willing to drink the neocon Kool-Aid and go along with the White House, when it came to questions of whether Iraq was buying uranium in Niger or if Saddam was working with bin Laden, CIA and INR analysts consistently got it right and told the administration what they did not want to hear. It was policymakers, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, NSC Chief Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who ignored what the analysts were saying and writing.

The evidence of the White House effort to manipulate and shape U.S. public opinion is now overwhelming. Just last week, President Bush appeared in a pathetic scripted “dialogue” with hand-selected U.S. troops. We also know that male escort Jeff Gannon Guckert was granted special access to White House press briefings and that pundits like Armstrong Williams sold themselves to the White House. The Bush administration had an organized campaign to manipulate the U.S. media to get its message out. Unfortunately, the corporate media played along.

The attack on Valerie Plame Wilson was not an isolated incident. It was part of a broader pattern of manipulation and deceit. But this was not done for the welfare of U.S. national security. Instead, we find ourselves confronted by an unprecedented level of terrorist attacks and a deteriorating military situation in Iraq. At the same time, we now know that the Bush administration gladly sacrificed an undercover intelligence officer in order to keep up the pretense that the war in Iraq was all about weapons of mass destruction.

Americans have died because of the Bush deceit. The unmasking of Valerie Plame was not an odd occurrence. It was part of a pattern of deliberate manipulation and disinformation. At the end of the day, American men and women have died because of this lie. It is up to the American people to hold the Bush administration accountable for these actions.

Larry C. Johnson
October 19, 2005

Larry Johnson worked as a CIA intelligence analyst and State Department counter-terrorism official. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20051019/dick_cheneys_covert_action.php


Ex-Reagan CIA Head: Source Of Fake Niger Document Is Michael Ledeen

In an interview with the former CIA head of counterterrorism operations and intelligence director at the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan, Vincent Cannistaro, he was asked if the documents on Iraq's purchase of uranium from Niger came from Italian intelligence to which he answered in the affirmative.

However according to Cannistaro "When we're talking about acquiring information on Iraq. It isn't that anyone had a good source on Iraq - there weren't any good sources. The Italian intelligence service, the military intelligence service, was acquiring information that was really being hand-fed to them by very dubious sources. The Niger documents, for example, which apparently were produced in the United States, yet were funneled through the Italians."

When the former CIA head of counter-terrorism was asked if a Michael Ledeen had been the one who produced the Iraq documents he said "You'd be very close."

This is consistent with the theory that the documents are the work of Iraqi dissidents associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

The documents would have flowed from Chalabi to Ledeen to SISME, and thus would have been laundered to make them appear as legitimate products discovered by a legitimate intelligence agency.

This sophistication in the use of foreign intelligence agencies appears to be part of the modus operandi of the neocons, and may derive from the particular expertise of Ledeen and Richard Perle, developed in various shenanigans going back to the 1970's in particular the Iran-Contra affair.

Intelligence agencies in Britain, France, and Germany were also used in the same campaigns of lies which led to the attack on Iraq. One of the strategies was to feed some nonsense to one intelligence agency, and then have that nonsense distributed to other intelligence agencies. Then the claim would be that the information must be true, as it came from multiple sources..

The handling of the source of the main lies used to justify the attack, the aptly named 'Curveball', also displays the same sophistication in technique. Curveball was too obviously undependable to be sent directly to the CIA. As Joseph Cannon writes:

". . . the [Office of Special Plans] could feed lies directly into the Oval Office - but they needed more. They needed to find a way to make the CIA bestow its imprimatur onto this silliness. Thus, the neo-cons somehow arranged for Curveball to be routed through German intelligence - we don't yet know how it happened, but it happened. Why give this alky German minders? If the CIA had dealt with Curveball directly, they would have seen through his deceptions rather easily.

But since the information came by way of the BND, the CIA tended to trust it. By the time the agency decided to take a closer look at the sourcing, war was already a done deal.

Furthermore, this little scheme offered a bonus: Since Tenet and McLaughlin had bought into the BND's information if it all went haywire responsibility could be laid to rest at the feet of the CIA. Not the OSP, not the INC, not the BND, not Mossad, not the neocon ideologues.

Once again, we see use of a bold tactic: The use of a foreign spy shop as a go-between, in order to legitimise and circulate bogus (but ideologically useful) data within the U.S. intelligence community."


If you feed Curveball's shoddy information through German intelligence, with no CIA experts allowed to see him, and ignore the German protestations that he could not be trusted, you can have the lies fed into the American system without any caveats about reliability. The added bonus is that by using the CIA to convey the information, you can then blame the CIA when trouble erupts.

The common thread in the forged Niger documents, the use of Curveball, and the British intelligence manipulations which ended up getting David Kelly killed, is a very clever use of multiple intelligence agencies to disguise the source of a collection of rather obvious lies which were used to justify the attack on Iraq.

Whoever was behind this had to have had a long history of involvement in American government and involvement with multiple foreign intelligence agencies. There aren't that many people with that kind of experience. Who was: 1) a neocon in favor of an attack on Iraq; with 2) connections to Feith's Office of Special Plans; and with 3) ties to Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress; and with 4) long-standing documented relationships with foreign intelligence agencies, particularly SISME?

http://www.infowars.com/articles/us/ex-reagan_cia_head_source_fake_niger_docs_ledeen.htm

KARL ROVE, MICHAEL LEDEEN SPIES PROCURED FORGED NIGER DOCUMENTS

Karl Rove's only full-time foreign-policy advisor is Michael Ledeen, a rabid anti-Arab, pro-Israel activist. The FBI is investigating Ledeen for procuring forged documents on nonexistent WMD, which George Bush used to justify his war on Iraq. When Joseph Wilson exposed the farce, Rove helped "out" Wilson's CIA wife. Did Ledeen procure the documents for Rove, and how might he have done that? The story includes multinational stool pigeon Rocco Martino, Italian spy Francesco Pazienza, wanted CIA spy Robert Seldon Lady, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, who's under charges of giving US secrets to Israel. http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=7256

Karl Rove's foreign-policy advisor, Michael Ledeen, proclaimed "the rightness of the fascist cause" in 1972. In 1984 he got George Bush Sr to appoint Iranian arms merchant and Iranian/Israeli double-agent Manucher Ghorbanifar as a middleman in the scandalous Iran-Contra affair. Ledeen has been a fixture in Washington and Israel ever since, advocating a modern version of the Crusades against Islamic nations. Based on what he has said and written, I believe Ledeen is insane.

Michael Ledeen, Rove's "brain," is one of the leading advocates for a US attack on Iran. The Washington Post quoted Ledeen as saying that Rove told him, "Anytime you have a good idea, tell me." I guess that means we can look forward to the Bush team drumming up a war with Iran. [For more, see articles by Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post -- the main man of the mainstream media pursuing the Rove Scandal.]

George Bush Jr., when he assumed the Presidency at the start of 2001, already knew that he was going to settle the family score with Saddam Hussein. His "brain," Rove, quickly enlisted Ledeen to trump up a causus belli.

EARLY 2000: ROCCO MARTINO AND THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Rocco Martino is a 66-year-old Italian gentleman who worked on and off for the Italian SISMI (analogous to the CIA) for many years and who also peddled the same information to various spy organizations and publications -- a convicted felon and international stool pigeon, just the kind of person Ledeen's associates needed.

After being fired by SISMI (for receiving stolen checks, among other things), he convinced the French intelligence in 2000 that he knew all about Africa and the trafficking of conventional and nonconventional arms. To avoid stepping on the toes of Italian intelligence, the French gave him a contact, or handler, in Brussels. Martino's handler in Brussels asked him to obtain every type of news or reference to contraband uranium from Niger ("NYE-jer") -- a former French colony in the Sahara desert (not to be confused with ex-British Nigeria in W. Africa), where mining was under the jurisdiction of two companies controlled by the gigantic French mining company Cogema.

#file_1#

Martino soon was knocking at the door of the embassy of Niger in Rome, where he met an Italian functionary (a "lady," by most reports -- but this was no lady, as we shall see). Martino provided the French with documents showing that Iraq may have been planning to expand trade with Niger. In fact, the first set of documents did not refer to uranium, and the trade plans were probably the typical sort of relationship Arab oil states had with a whole range of third-world countries.

Martino was surprised when he saw that the French immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought that the documents indicated an Iraqi interest in uranium. (We now know that Iraq had no nuclear program.) "We need additional confirmation and more detailed information," said the French secret service. Martino set out to satisfy his French patrons with additional documents.

JANUARY 2001 BREAK-IN AT NIGER EMBASSY

At night, between the first and second of the January 2001, a mysterious thief came to the embassy of Niger in Rome and into the residence of the counselor in charge. It turned out that some letterhead and seals were missing. A second dossier on Niger-Iraq trade soon came into Martino's hands, one that included references to uranium trafficking. Martino claims he got it from embassy personnel and that he thought it was authentic.

Martino passed it on to the French secret service, who had paid for it, and also to Panorama [a magazine owned by Bush ally and Italian president Silvio Berlusconi], which assessed it by dispatching a female reporter to Niger. Panorama also turned the file over to the US Embassy in Rome for cross-checking in the US.

The female journalist soon told Martino that the trip to Niger had not produced any real confirmation, and also the French confirmed to Martino that the reports he had passed on to them were groundless. In other words, Bush's war rationale was debunked way back in 2001 by amateur and professional sleuths.

Furthermore, it was a very amateurish forgery, not likely produced through official channels by any state intelligence agency with their vast resources. However, it was soon resuscitated as the Bush administration, in its first year, ramped up its public relations campaign for war.

ROME MEETING IN DECEMBER 2001

Michael Ledeen organized a meeting in Rome to gather evidence to support the planned war. Present were:

1. Michael Ledeen, Karl Rove's foreign policy advisor and organizer of the meeting

2. Nicolo Pollari, head of the the Italian equivalent of the CIA, the SISMI

3. Italy's Minister of Defense, Antonio Martino (no relation apparently to the spy Rocco Martino), Pollari's boss

4. Larry Franklin, an American who presently is being prosecuted in the US for giving classified information to an Israeli front group, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) -- which some would call "spying," even though he has not been charged with espionage

5. Harold Rhode: member of Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans, protege of Ledeen, go-between with Iraqi exile and CIA asset (at the time) Ahmed Chalabi.

Ledeen already had a longstanding friendship with Francesco Pazienza, an Italian felon and forger who had been kicked out of the official Italian intelligence organization SISMI but who had found a new home in the renegade intelligence agency P-2 (Propaganda Due). Pazienza apparently was not present but definitely was known to Italian intelligence agents, including Rocco Martino, as well as to Ledeen.

Ledeen also was a personal friend of Pollari, who, like Ledeen, is a master of the card game bridge (Ledeen writes columns on it). There are close ties between Pollari's official intelligence organization, SISMI, and Pazienza's unnofficial one, P-2. In fact, P-2 recruits from SISMI.

This little group dusted off Martino's discredited second dossier on Iraq-Niger trade, with the uranium references. The Bush administration now had its causus belli.

CAUSUS BELLI: A PIECE OF CRAP

#file_2#

The accompanying figure shows a bit of the cobbled-up intelligence report on stolen letterheads, forged by amateurs -- most likely Ledeen's friend, Francesco Panzienza. This document, which can be viewed at the Israeli site http://www.4law.co.il/Le838k.html, is the "evidence" on which George Bush sent almost two thousand young Americans and untold thousands of Iraqi civilians to their deaths.

SPRING 2002: JOE WILSON TO NIGER

Former US Ambassador (to Gabon) Joseph Wilson made the trip, apparently at the behest of the CIA, to determine the authenticity of the charges in Martino's documents, even though the CIA already could see they were forgeries. Even the Panorama reporter could have saved him the trouble. Wilson reported back to the CIA that there was no proof that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger. The US government knew there was no proof.

FALL 2002: USING THE CRAP

In London, Tony Blair spoke on September 24, 2002, for the first time on the attempts of Saddam Hussein to obtain uranium from Africa. Bush soon began to drive in the nail using the same argument. Remember, Martino had delivered the phony dossier this was based on to the US embassy in Rome over a year before. The US State Department and CIA rejected it and even Panorama had debunked it. The Pentagon, too, knew it was false, of course, but the Wolfowitz-Feith-Perle Defense Policy Board axis plus Bush and Cheney and their respective aides, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby (both now subjects of interest to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and his grand jury in Washington, DC), went with it anyway.

THE REST IS HISTORY: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein...

...recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Sixteen little words in Bush's January 2003 State of the Union message that will be remembered in history with more honorable presidential words like, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (FDR). Bush was going on the forged documents procured by Rocco Martino, debunked by all pertinent experts, and debunked by Joseph Wilson. The US overcame Iraqi opposition -- temporarily (resistance became "suicide," now wonders, for whom?) -- mainly by bombing civilian structures rather than fighting, beginning on March 19, 2003

Wilson's outraged response to using, for murder, evidence he had debunked got his family, or at least his wife, targeted by that amoral husk of a man, Karl Rove, who, along with I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby (Cheney's chief aide) outed Valerie Wilson to Robert Novak, Judith Miller (the jailed New York Times reporter and pro-war hawk), Matthew Cooper (Time's reporter who has jeopardized Rove in a criminal investigation), and numerous other journalists. Most, like Miller and Cooper, wisely resisted Rove's bait.

IMP OF IMPS: MICHAEL LEDEEN'S DAUGHTER SMILES IMPISHLY IN IRAQ

#file_3#

The war is not just about oil, Israel's fears/ambitions, or US hegemony.. There are contracts and contractors in Iraq. Modern-day carpetbaggers with briefcases descended like a plague of scorpions on the poor, bloodied, bombed-out, grieving people of Iraq. They included the daughter of the war's chief banshee -- Simone Ledeen, Michael's young daughter -- shown in the photo, greeting with an impish smile another occupier at the Baghdad airport -- getting ready to lord it over the Iraqis as she tries out her new MBA in working for the CPA. Caption: "The creatures step out of the tripods." Maybe it'll help to pay off those student loans -- huh, Michael?

LEDEEN FELLOW-TRAVELER FRANKLIN FACES A COURT TRIAL

At Ledeen's (Rove's brain) meeting with Italian intelligence in December 2001 was one Larry Franklin.

The FBI caught Franklin, 58 -- a Pentagon analyst on Iran and an Air Force Reserve colonel -- meeting two agents of AIPAC, Israel's US "lobby," in an Alexandria, VA, restaurant in June 2003. AIPAC employees -- including AIPAC agents at the meeting, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman -- had been under FBI surveillance for a couple of years. The FBI was surprised by Franklin showing up and began investigating him, too. The FBI arrested Franklin, on May 4, 2005, for illegally disclosing highly classified information to AIPAC -- spying for AIPAC, in other words. He is free on bond and is expected to plead innocent at his trial.

Why hasn't the FBI arrested anyone at the AIPAC? Who in the Bush administration is blocking justice in this case?

For that matter, why hasn't the FBI interviewed Rocco Martino, the acknowledged and admitted procurer of the phony Niger uranium documents? They are known to be investigating the phony documents.

The United States has had no qualms about getting audacious in Italy by having the CIA abduct an Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar, off the streets of Milan in February 2003, for "extraordinary rendition," aka "torture," in Egypt. This open violation of Italian sovereignty was supervised by the CIA's station chief in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady, formerly of the New Orleans area.

Lady Is No "lady": ROBERT SELDON LADY

It is my belief that the "Italian functionary," or "a lady," that Martino referred to was actually a Lady, Robert Seldon Lady Sr, the same man who headed up the torture abduction of Abu Omar.

Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro has just obtained arrrest warrants for 6 more CIA spies in addition to the original 13 that included Robert Lady, in connection with the abduction.

Robert Seldon Lady, 51, lived in Abita Springs, Lousiana, until 2001, when he left for the Milan post. He still has an address in New Orleans, according to Cryptome http://cryptome.org/lady-eyeball.htm. He and his wife Martha own a villa in the Italian countryside near Penango (Asti) and Turin, where they hoped to retire before he went on the lam. Born in Honduras, he was an affable New York City cop in the 80s who infiltrated leftist groups. He is something of an electronics hacker (at least of cell phones). And now he is a wanted felon in Europe.

During the operation, Lady apparently worked directly with the commander of the 31st Security Police Squadron, Lt. Col. Joseph Romano, USAF, at the Aviano Air Base in Italy. Lt. Col. Romano, who currently works at the Pentagon, also is sought for interviewing by Italian prosecutors. At the time, Romano worked under Brig Gen R. Michael Worden, commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, who also should have to answer some questions.
The Italian prosecutor could release the photographs of the American kidnap-torture perps at any time. This case -- Robert Lady's kidnapping of Abu Omar -- could become a very big story because of its possible effects on relations between nations.

Clayton Hallmark
Friday July 29, 2005 at 01:49 PM
© 2000-2005 Arizona Indymedia.

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