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 ).
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