Skip to comments.Joe Wilson: A Botched Niger Mission?
Posted on 06/28/2004 3:43:13 PM PDT by swilhelm73
Remember Joe Wilson, he of the cheesy V.F. photo shoot that seemed meant to evoke an aura of Gatsbyesque grandeur and Viennese espionage derring-do (rather underwhelmingly, I'd have to say)?
Recall Wilson had this to say about his trip to Niger:
I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place....
...If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses.
Might Wilson have spent a tad too much time sipping all that tea?
Check out this, quite interesting, piece from today's FT.
To be sure, as the FT article reminds us, some documents that detailed alleged uranium transfers as between Niger and Iraq have indeed proved fraudulent.
So why then, now many months out, is British intelligence still sticking by the story, despite the embarrassing forgeries?
However, European intelligence officers have now revealed that three years before the fake documents became public, human and electronic intelligence sources from a number of countries picked up repeated discussion of an illicit trade in uranium from Niger. One of the customers discussed by the traders was Iraq.
These intelligence officials now say the forged documents appear to have been part of a "scam", and the actual intelligence showing discussion of uranium supply has been ignored.
The FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit uranium deals with at least five countries, including Iraq.
This intelligence provided clues about plans by Libya and Iran to develop their undeclared nuclear programmes. Niger officials were also discussing sales to North Korea and China of uranium ore or the "yellow cake" refined from it: the raw materials that can be progressively enriched to make nuclear bombs.
The raw intelligence on the negotiations included indications that Libya was investing in Niger's uranium industry to prop it up at a time when demand had fallen, and that sales to Iraq were just a part of the clandestine export plan. These secret exports would allow countries with undeclared nuclear programmes to build up uranium stockpiles.
One nuclear counter-proliferation expert told the FT: "If I am going to make a bomb, I am not going to use the uranium that I have declared. I am going to use what I acquire clandestinely, if I am going to keep the programme hidden."
As the FT wryly closes its piece:
Mr Wilson was critical of the Bush administration's use of secret intelligence, and has since charged that the White House sought to intimidate him by leaking the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent.
But Mr Wilson also stated in his account of the visit that Mohamed Sayeed al-Sahaf, Iraq's former information minister, was identified to him by a Niger official as having sought to discuss trade with Niger.
As Niger's other main export is goats, some intelligence officials have surmised uranium was what Mr Sahaf was referring to.
Goats, yellowcake, sweet tea--what's the difference?
It's all about "false pretenses" and a mad rush to war!
UPDATE: The FT is now giving this story bigger coverage and has a second (lead) story up:
Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that uranium smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to Iran, Libya, China, North Korea and Iraq.
These claims support the assertion made in the British government dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme in September 2002 that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from an African country, confirmed later as Niger. George W. Bush, US president, referred to the issue in his State of the Union address in January 2003.
The claim that the illicit export of uranium was under discussion was widely dismissed when letters referring to the sales - apparently sent by a Nigerien official to a senior official in Saddam Hussein's regime - were proved by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be forgeries. This embarrassed the US and led the administration to reverse its earlier claim.
But European intelligence officials have for the first time confirmed that information provided by human intelligence sources during an operation mounted in Europe and Africa produced sufficient evidence for them to believe that Niger was the centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium.
Well, I guess that's one fewer "lie" to throw at the feet of the Bushies.
But, of course, in the cretinous intellectual and political climate we inhabit (where the likes of Michael Moore parade about playing pretend noble dissident and are applauded by our estimable "cultural" arbitrers--from Tarantino's Cannes to Weinstein's Ziegfeld bash)--how many will read this critical update to the yellowcake chronicles in the august pages of the FT (or Instapundit!)?
Too few, doubtless.
Oh, and might Sy Hersh want to clarify his earlier New Yorker reporting on this matter?
The Bush Administrations reliance on the Niger documents may, however, have stemmed from more than bureaucratic carelessness or political overreaching. Forged documents and false accusations have been an element in U.S. and British policy toward Iraq at least since the fall of 1997, after an impasse over U.N. inspections. Then as now, the Security Council was divided, with the French, the Russians, and the Chinese telling the United States and the United Kingdom that they were being too tough on the Iraqis. President Bill Clinton, weakened by the impeachment proceedings, hinted of renewed bombing, but, then as now, the British and the Americans were losing the battle for international public opinion. A former Clinton Administration official told me that London had resorted to, among other things, spreading false information about Iraq. The British propaganda programpart of its Information Operations, or I/Opswas known to a few senior officials in Washington. I knew that was going on, the former Clinton Administration official said of the British efforts. We were getting ready for action in Iraq, and we wanted the Brits to prepare.
Hersh might owe British intelligence a little apology, no?
After all, he accused them of cooking the books on Niger.
"Sexed up" intel and all that.
But, rather, it looks like, if anything, the story was a lot bigger than what Hersh derisively accused the Brits of hyping.
It, reportedly, wasn't just Iraq that may have trying to obtain uranium from Niger.
For good measure, throw in China, NoKo, Libya, and Iran too.
So who comes off looking more credible in this whole affair: Bush/Blair--or Hersh/Wilson?
I report, you decide.
N.B: But, as you do so, recall Wilson went out to Niger and sent back the 'all clear' to HQ on the yellowcake front.
He'll have a lot of egg on his face if it turns out Niger was, per the FT, at the "centre of a clandestine international trade in uranium", no?
But, then again, he was never the spy in the family!
Josh Marshall appears to intimate the FT has been peddled some misinformation.
He mostly ignores the FT's main revelation (that Niger may have been at the center of a clandestine international trade in uranium) and instead focuses on the identity of the forger.
Marshall all but formally announces he's got a mega, air-tight story in the works that will apparently point to a different person or persons or organizations (ie, not the unnamed Italian businessman) regarding the "origins of those forged documents and who was involved."
He then provides this "hypothetical" to put the FT piece in context:
Let's say that certain individuals or organizations are responsible for some rather unfortunate misdeeds. And let's further postulate that such hypothetical individuals or organizations find out that some folks are on to them, that a story is in the works -- perhaps more than one -- and that it's coming right at them. Those individuals or organizations -- as shorthand, let's call them 'the bad actors' -- might well start trying to fight back, trying to gin up an alternative storyline to exculpate themselves and inculpate others. If that story made its way into the news, at a minimum, it might help the bad actors muddy the waters for when the real story comes out. You can see how such a regrettable turn of events might come to pass.
Developing...TPM versus the Financial Times!
(Or is it TPM--or some other media outlet Josh may be working on the story for singly or jointly--versus "the bad actors"?)
I wish Josh the best of luck if he's got a scoop of this size.
He will become a launched journalistic brand.
But, it's worth bearing in mind, the FT isn't stock-full of gullible hacks.
And there's still the matter, quite aside from the identity of the forger(s), of whether Niger sat at an epicenter of major cross-border trade in uranium or not.
We can't just sweep that issue aside, can we?
Hey Shermy...check this out.
Is that old Joe's wife, the super-secret agent, Valeri Plame, in the photo? Nice disguise.
I am ever more convinced that there was no leak. A wish to cash in seems more likely.
This is the THRID Joe Wilson/Niger article today.
Wonder what's up.
Mr. Wilson may need the money for lawyers, after this investigation is done. It is common knowledge, that if anything bad against the Bush adm. had turned up by now, it would be all over the NYT's and their partners in crime. Mr. Wilson has lied from the very start of this faux accusation.
Bush's failure to purge all lying scumbag Clintonistas and automatically exclude them from government use is the cause of this problem and others. All those cruds who lied for Willie and did dishonest things for him can only help to redeem themselves by making any Republcan looks as bad as Willie. We already know them to be liars. They've lied in the past and will lie in the future.
It's interesting that all the claims by the Bush admin about Hussein are proving true. Even the one they didn't claim concerning Iraq and 9/11 is generating a lot of smoke. You have the recent finds of those supposedly nonexistent wmds in Iraq, claims by Putin that his intel had Hussein ordering terrorist attacks inside the U.S. , Al-Qaeda activity in Iraq, and now the intel confirming Hussein's plans to get nuclear material from Niger. So one would think that these major news items would get headlined in all the Big Media outlets. Well as we all know Big Liberal Media is sitting on all these revelations exonerating Bush and the war because they can't believe Bush is right, and they're wrong. Michael Moore might as well be in charge at the big networks. I'll give ABCess News a pass because they panned his lying flick. A rare acknowledgment of the truth by a liberal media outlet.
Bump for later read.
Nice article. "Sexed up" was the phrase the BBC used in that attack on Tony Blair and Iraq that backfired on them.
Because the media wasn't listening.
The Brits, even before the Jow Wilson op-ed, denied their intelligence was based on the forgeries. From my thread...
June 4, 2003
The facts behind the claims
[Note: The first British government clarification in the press - British intelligence not based on the fraudulent Niger documents:]
....Iraq "sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa".
The quest for uranium appeared to support the claim that Saddam "is almost certainly seeking an indigenous ability to enrich uranium". However, the IAEA said the documents it was given to prove Iraq had bought uranium from Niger were "not authentic".
UK officials claim that the documents did not come from Britain and the assessment is based on "much more reliable sources". ...
June 6, 2003
The Financial Times
Evidence about Iraqi uranium 'not fake'
Allegations by UK intelligence officials that Iraq had tried to buy uranium supplies from Niger were not based on fake documents, it emerged yesterday. The claim that Iraq "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" was based on two wholly different sources of information.
...But the documents which turned out to be fake and which were given to the IAEA by US officials were not the evidence the UK government was using when it made its case against Iraq. While Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop nuclear arms were never regarded with the importance of his chemical and biological weapons programmes, the issue of the alleged uranium purchases has dominated debate over the reliability of the intelligence information used to justify the war.
George W. Bush, the US president, cited UK intelligence information as the source of claims that Iraq had been trying to buy unenriched uranium. But the forged documents, some of which are thought to have been the result of a criminal scam, have never been in the possession of UK officials. They never sought to correct the mistaken impression that the source of the claim was the fake documents, as it was thought it would have embarrassed Mr Bush.
IAEA officials have said that none of the documentation they received regarding Iraq and Niger came from the UK. ...
Wilson had an agenda and it was fulfilled. Eventually tho, the truth has emerged.
Much as the NYSlimes apologyzed today for it's erronious headline......NO QAEDA LINK.......
The damage has been untold, however.
The Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (INVO) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (part of the UN) seems to think it did.
I didn't understand that one either. I think it's editorial comment. Or the Brits didn't mind the confusion - because they didn't trust the Americans with the documents anyway.
Joe Wilson couldn't find yellow cake uranium if it was shoved up his ass.
Actually, there are two main reasons why the liberal, biased slimebags in the so-called "elite media" will do all they can to smother all of these stories:
1. Ego, the need to be perceived as correct. This is what you mention above as their need to be right, or perceived as being right. After all, they are the elite braniacs and conservatives are the dumbed down results of public education.
2. Power. If these facts (and I emphasize FACTS), get out to even just a few percent of the undecideds, it could easily guarantee the election goes to President Bush. They cannot have that. They would implode. They NEED their power back at any and all costs. That means they will put you and I in harms way just for their power lust.
Unfortunately for them, these FACTS are starting to seep out, drip by drip. As hard as they try, the FACTS are still coming out. The next couple of months may quite possibly prove to be the time that the Democratic party completely went insane (ala ALGORE and DEAN) and began to shrivel up into a whimpering, smelly, sweaty ball of human waste.
Could all these FACTS dripping out now be an extremely well conceived plan by the Bush campaign, that they had a timeline and have stuck with it no matter how bad things looked? Maybe.
But, one thing I have posted for many years here on FR needs repeating now:
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE DEPTHS TO WHICH A LIBERAL WILL GO FOR POWER!!
What doesn't help are people like Bill O'Reilly who on his program last night still maintained that we haven't found any wmds. After the first few months of the war, Bill got on his high horse demanding that Bush produce the wmds to justify the war. Well we've started to find those wmds, but apparently O'Reilly chooses to ignore the news. I can't figure our why except for the fact that Bill stated that there are no wmds to a liberal reporter and now can't face the facts after discovering that he was wrong. He did a great job last night condemning that pile of excrement Moore about the lies of F-9/11, but then said that we still haven't found any wmds. I just about fell out of my chair and wanted to scream at him that YES!!! we have found them you pompous, self-inflated blowhard.