Skip to comments.Agent behind fake uranium documents worked for France
Posted on 09/18/2004 9:53:18 PM PDT by Perdogg
The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.
The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, "Giacomo".
His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.
Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.
Italian judicial officials confirmed yesterday that Mr Martino had previously been sought for questioning by Rome. Investigating magistrates in the city have opened an inquiry into claims he made previously in the international press that Italy's secret services had been behind the dissemination of false documents, to bolster the US case for war.
According to Ansa, the Italian news agency, which said privately that it had obtained its information from "judicial and other sources", Mr Martino was questioned by an investigating magistrate, Franco Ionta, for two hours. Ansa said Mr Martino told the magistrate that Italy's military intelligence, Sismi, had no role in the procuring or dissemination of the Niger documents.
He was also said to have claimed that he had obtained the documents from an employee at the Niger embassy in Rome, before passing these to French intelligence, on whose payroll he had been since at least 2000.
However, he reportedly also added that he had believed that the documents in question were genuine, and to have never suspected that they had been forged. "Martino has clarified his position and offered to deliver to the magistrates the documents which confirm his declarations," his lawyer, Giuseppe Placidi, told Ansa.
It was not possible to contact Mr Martino through his lawyer yesterday. Contacted by The Telegraph, Mr Ionta politely declined to comment, but did not deny that the questioning had taken place. The Interior Ministry in Rome, which had also expressed keen interest in the Telegraph article, refused to comment on the matter.
Mr Martino is said by diplomats to have come forward of his own accord and contacted authorities in the Italian capital following the earlier article in the Telegraph. They said he had written a letter of resignation to the French DGSE intelligence service last week.
According to an Italian newspaper report yesterday, members of the Digos, Italy's anti-terrorist police, removed documents from Mr Martino's home in a northern suburb of Rome on Friday afternoon.
"After being exposed in the international press, French intelligence can hardly be amused or happy with him," one western diplomat said. "Martino may have thought the safest thing was to hand himself over to the Italians." Investigators in Rome suspect that Mr Martino was first engaged by the French secret services five years ago, when he was asked to investigate rumours of illicit trafficking in uranium from Niger. He is thought to have then been retained the following year to collect more information. It was then that he is suspected of having assembled a dossier containing both real and bogus documents from Niger, the latter apparently forged by a diplomat.
In September 2002 Tony Blair accused Saddam of seeking "significant quantities" of uranium from an undisclosed African country - in fact, Niger. US President George W Bush made a similar claim in his State of the Union address to Congress four months later, using information supplied by MI6.
The International Atomic Energy Agency expressed doubts over some of the documents' authenticity, however, and declared them false in March 2003.
In July, the White House withdrew the president's claim, admitting that it was based on inaccurate information. British officials still say that their intelligence about Iraqi uranium purchases was supported by a second, independent source.
Is it just my computer, or is the link to this article not showing up on the frontpage?
I can't see it either.
I have no title either (?)
It's not just you. There's no title anywhere. Maybe that can be fixed.
Strange, the link doesn't even show up in my comments.
....queue Twilight Zone music
Thanks to the Axis of Weasles.
Funny, these documents were said to be obvious forgeries, sort of like the CBS memos.
Is forging documents now an acceptable foreign policy tactic? Funny, but I don't hear any outrage, no wonder CBS thought they could get away with their little stunt.
Somebody's got to get this in the mainstream news. Is Hanity reading this site?
These are the same French that want Mr. Kerry for president!!
Can anyone shed light on if this is true or not. If it is true than is this not the info that Pres. Bush talked about in his state of the union address. Than when it turned out to be false he was scorned over it. Is this the same info?. If it is than did not the french just crap all over our president?
This is the one that turned out to be false. The other Uranium claim, the one that French agents gave to British intelligence (but restricted giving to the US) was true. As noted in the Butler report.
Isn't Joe Wilson's ex wife #2 reported to be a French "diplomat"?
Per a post from Eva, paraphrased:
Jacqueline, (Joe's his second wife), was a French diplomat and may have provided the connections for Wilson to see the forged documents that were supplied by the French through the Italians. In other words it is possible that Wilson knew that the docs were forged because he was privy to the information that French wanted to discredit the British info on Saddam shopping for yellowcake and that Wilson's objective was the same. The French just happen to manage the yellowcake production in Niger.
IOW, he didn't lie in his first statement...he saw the documents. It has been reported that she was a "cultural counselor" for the French Embassy, which some say is code for she was doing undercover work.
And Fedora has contributed this:
French intelligence soon began a campaign to discredit the US case for war against Iraq. In 1999, French intelligence had begun investigating the security of uranium supplies in Niger, where uranium production was controlled by a consortium led by the French mining company COGEMA, a division of the French state-owned nuclear energy firm AREVA. At that time, Italian businessman Rocco Martino provided French intelligence with genuine documents revealing that Iraq was planning to expand trade with Niger. French intelligence took an interest in the documents and asked Martino to provide more information. In 2000 he used a contact in the Niger embassy in Rome to provide French intelligence with documents purporting that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger. These documents were later exposed as forgeries;
< snip >
Since it is now also known that French intelligence was trying to push Martinos forgeries on US and British intelligence, as simultaneously the Democratic National Committee was planning to discredit President Bushs Iraq policy by accusing his administration of manufacturing evidence against Husseins regime, heightened suspicion is cast on Wilsons use of the Niger investigation to discredit the Bush administrations case for war.
And the CIA coup theory has been floated before:
Why did DCI George Tenet suddenly resign on June 3rd, only to be followed a day later by James Pavitt, the CIA's Deputy Director of Operations (DDO)?
The real reasons, contrary to the saturation spin being put out by major news outlets, have nothing to do with Tenet's role as taking the fall for alleged 9/11 and Iraqi intelligence failures before the upcoming presidential election.
Both resignations, perhaps soon to be followed by resignations from Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage, are about the imminent and extremely messy demise of George W. Bush and his Neocon administration in a coup d'etat being executed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The coup, in the planning for at least two years, has apparently become an urgent priority as a number of deepening crises threaten a global meltdown. Shortly after the surprise Tenet-Pavitt resignations, current and former senior members of the U.S. intelligence community and the Justice Department told journalist Wayne Madsen, a former Naval intelligence officer, that they were directly connected to the criminal investigation of a 2003 White House leak that openly exposed Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA officer.
Seymour Hersh dropped a major bombshell that went virtually unnoticed, 54 paragraphs deep into an October 27, 2003 story for the New Yorker titled The Stovepipe.
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 services of several different countries. One theory, favored by some journalists in Rome, is that [the Italian intelligence service] Sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.Source
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 and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.
Okay...there is much misinformation in the article which has now been disproven, as Rove/Bush/Cheney did not leak Plame's name, but what about the basic premise that this whole thing was a coup set up by the CIA? That would explain the shakeup at the CIA. You will notice that Powell's name is in there too, and he did resign in that time frame, just as they said. They are now trying to hang that memo around Bush's neck.
Yes, I have my tin foil hat securely on, LOL!
From some more reliable sources:
If Joe diGenova is right, and I suspect he is, the federal investigation into the disclosure of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame should never have happened.
My views are stronger than ever, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said Monday when asked about the white-hot controversy that has sent a New York Times reporter to jail, changed the rules of investigative journalism and now threatens to envelop the White House in a major crisis. This investigation never should have started because its apparent that no crime was ever committed. The only way an investigation can begin is if the agency swears swears that it took every conceivable step to protect this persons identity.
For example, the CIA had to answer 11 specific questions about what steps it took to protect the identity of a covert agent. But diGenova questions whether some of the information the CIA provided the Justice Department on those 11 questions was materially false.
In addition, he pointed out that the CIA paid for Wilsons trip, didnt ask him to sign a confidentiality agreement, didnt object to his writing the op-ed article in the Times and allowed him to conduct TV interviews and to appear in a photo with his wife in Vanity Fair, he noted.
The CIA isnt stupid, he said. They wanted this story out. Im raising the question: Did the CIA mislead Fitzgerald?
The farcical Plame/Wilson assault on Karl Rove is a shot across the bow of the White House. The spook bureaucracy is fighting for its perks, hand-in-hand with the Democrats and the media. This is exactly the same iron triangle that destroyed Richard Nixon. [My comment: Hence all the sudden media hype about Watergate]
Valerie Plame's CIA bosses took care not to ask Mr. Wilson to sign a confidentiality agreement, routine in such cases, almost as if they wanted him to make a public fuss. They were not surprised, one might think, when Mr. Wilson promptly took his story to New York Times Op-Ed Editor Gail Collins, one of the great Bush-haters of all time.
The farcical "outing" of Valerie Plame therefore raises a genuinely frightening monster from the swamp: A subversive alliance between the intelligence bureaucracy, the Democratic Party and the media. The common thread among all the characters in this low-brow comedy is hatred of President Bush and American power. Joe Wilson's eyebrows go ballistic when he talks about the White House. Just watch him sometime.
It was a publicity stunt from the get-go. Wilson's "confidential trip" to Niger gave him the superficial credentials to publish his "expose" in the Times. He'd gone there, talked to the top officials face to face, and by gum, they told him it was all a lie! Not even Gail Collins could possibly believe this banana sauce, but Wilson's charges provided a useful stick with which to beat the White House.
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 and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.
The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney, the former officer said. They said, O.K, were 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 itHeres 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 goto nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence, my source said. They thought itd be bought at lower levelsa 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.
Like all large institutions, C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, is full of water-cooler gossip, and a retired clandestine officer told me this summer that the story about a former operations officer faking the documents is making the rounds. Whats telling, he added, is that the story, whether its true or not, is believedan extraordinary commentary on the level of mistrust, bitterness, and demoralization within the C.I.A. under the Bush Administration. (William Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had no more evidence that former members of the C.I.A. had forged the documents than we have that they were forged by Mr. Hersh.)
The F.B.I. has been investigating the forgery at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A senior F.B.I. official told me that the possibility that the documents were falsified by someone inside the American intelligence community had not been ruled out. This story could go several directions, he said. We havent gotten anything solid, and weve looked. He said that the F.B.I. agents assigned to the case are putting a great deal of effort into the investigation. But somebodys hiding something, and theyre hiding it pretty well.
See post #15, I laid it all out there.
"Funny, these documents were said to be obvious forgeries, sort of like the CBS memos."
The CIA is still working on them. Joe Wilson's report to follow.
Of course, this ties in with :
1) The many lucrative contracts large French companies had with Iraq under Saddam. Something they would not want to jeopardize.
2) The Oil for food scandal where former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merrimee was implicated for taking kickbacks from Saddam.
3) Further exposes Joe Wilson to be the liar that he is since he implies that THIS ONE forged document was the only basis by which we concluded that Saddam was after uranium in Niger ( note: Bush refered to British Intelligence, not this document ).
Who is it that we think broke into the Niger embassy again?
Excellent summary. I don't think it's tin foil hat at all!
Thank you for assembling all that information.
The CIA has obviously been a wing of the Democrat Party for some years now, but it has never been clear to me exactly when or how this started. It clearly predated Clinton, although his appointees naturally hewed to this line. And if they were involved in bringing down Nixon, then it must go at least back to Johnson. That is, there is a long-embedded leftist culture at the CIA.
In re Rocco's documents: documents from a government such as Niger has, are pretty crude by a western government's standards, making forgery-spotting a bit harder. To further confuse the issue, Saddam's boffins WERE buying yellowcake in Africa. Soooo?
As far as outing Valerie, who was about as undercover as Okra Winfrey, Joe Wilson did that on his website, and these two were bounding about the Democrat Convention announcing it to all and sundry. Hell, they published it in "Vanity Fair!" The lying SOS was proud of his old lady's "career" at the CIA. The worthless Clintonoid was using his wife's connections to drum up consulting business!
If only the GOP chiefs had the cojones to sack every damn Democrat when they win an election! Instead, over the years, the entire DC government infrastructure elite has become a Democrat evil elite, from top-to-bottom.
It's what the Communists used to call the "Nomenklatura." They merely lie in wait to destroy the Republicans, who evidently are always ready to prove that we are the party of the stupid, ultimately too stupid to trump the party of the evil.
Our Republicans are busy formulatting ideas, solutions to America's problems. The dems though spend their energies on criticizing, setting up ploys, sabotage and underhanded efforts to grab back power.
Take your pick - the party of ideas and results, or the party of underhanded sabotage of those with ideas and those who sell those ideas. A no brainer for me.
I will never ever vote for a democrat for any office again. So apparently their efforts are not totally successful as I am a lot smarter than they think. I see through them.
Those not so blessed have an equal vote. In fact, given the massive vote fraud so far ignored by the GOP, one might say the less gifted have more than an equal vote.
I will never ever vote for a democrat for any office again.
Not all Republicans see their duty that clearly. One hiccup in the economy, whether real, perceived, or manufactured by the MSM, and our control of Congress is gone.
The key difference between the Democrats and the Republicans? The Democrat leaders tell their people what to do, and what to believe, and they obey. The Republicans tell their leaders what needs to be done and our leaders DO NOT BELIEVE, and DO NOT GET IT DONE. IMHO, our Republican leaders are more mindful of Democrat criticism than they are of the wishes of the faithful base that put them were they are.
Yup! I read this last year. Good idea to post it again.
Good old friend, France.
Fedora is the best researcher. Remind me never to cross her . ;)
I'm not sure we know, but we had some interesting discussion of that here starting around Post 226:
Thanks; it's "him", though, LOL. I should've known not to pick a hat for a screenname. . . :-)
Oh well...I just got called "bro"...I don't think my hubby would like that one very well, LOL! Thanks for the link above. Gotta run...hubby's waiting for dinner impatiently! See y'all tomorrow!
It had to be CIA or ex-CIA. I personally think it was Vince Cannistraro, who is the security advisor for the Vatican in Rome, where the Niger Embassy is located.
Wash Note is posting that 1-5 indictments are coming sdown--all targets have received letters. Indictments are sealed. Presser Thur.
If that's so--I doubt it's Rove and Libby they were photographed in the WH yesterday, and I have to think their resignations letters would have been sent as soon as the letters were received.
Why did Fitz call Wilson on Sept 29?
LOL! Okay, I'm about to eat, too. I'm going to think about this some more, though.
That's very interesting. Do we know if Fitzgerald has questioned Wilson before?
Yes, they were!
Not before the gj according to Wilson--he and Plame were separately interviewed early in the investigation.
Here's an interesting tidbit:
Rick Moran had commented on an earlier post of mine that WINPAC would not be happy that Fitzgerald was looking into the Niger documents - because his recollection was they had something to do with the initial confirmation of the Niger Intel. I give Rick credit for a pretty darn good memory - including the tip it was addressed in the Senate investigation report. He was very, very close!
Actually the forged documents were sent to the CIA in early October 2002, but the destination inside the CIA is redacted.
Here the documents stayed unchallenged until January of 2003, when the WINPAC section of the CIA was asked to respond to the Niger governments December 02 claim that they had not made any agreements with Saddam. It was then that WINPAC realized they did not have the documents! It was at this time a new version was sent to WINPAC and the forgeries discovered.
What happened to the documents sent in October of 2002? Well, there is evidence that does point back to the CIA CPD (Valerie Plames group at the time of Wilsons Niger visit 8 months earlier):
On October 16, 2002, INR made copies of the documents available at the NIAG meeting for attendees, including representatives from the CIA, DIA, DOE and NSA. Because the analyst who offered to provide the documents was on leave, the offices senior analyst provided the documents. She cannot recall how she made the documents available, but analysts from several agencies, including the DIA, NSA and DOE, did pick up copies at that meeting. None of the four CIA representatives recall picking up the documents, however, during the CIA Inspector Generals investigation of this issue, copies of the documents were found in the DOs CPD vault. It appears that a CPD representative did pick up the documents at the NIAG meeting, but after returning to the office, filed them without any further distribution.
And then there is this final tidbit:
On December 17, 2002, WINPAC analysts produced a paper, U.S. Analysis of Iraqs Declaration, 7 December 2002. The paper reviewed Iraqs Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Disclosure to the UN of its WMD programs and made only two points regarding the nuclear program - one noted Iraqs failure to explain its procurement of aluminum tubes the IC assessed could be used in a nuclear program, and the other noted that the declaration does not acknowledge efforts to procure uranium from Niger, one of the points addressed in the U.K. Dossier. An e-mail from the INR Iraq nuclear analyst to a DOE analyst on December 23, 2002 indicated that the analyst was surprised that INRs well known alternative views on both the aluminum tubes and the uranium information were not included in the points before they were transmitted to the NSC. The DOE analyst commented in an e-mail response to INR that, it is most disturbing that WINPAC is essentially directing foreign policy in this matter. There are some very strong points to be made in respect to Iraqs arrogant non-compliance with UN sanctions. However, when individuals attempt to convert those strong statements into the knock out punch, the Administration will ultimately look foolish - i.e. the tubes and Niger!
Thanks; good tidbit :-)
You're welcome.I know if I ever need it and can't remember where it was, you'll have it and in good order. ;)