The linked article below is a really good one on the whole debacle that represented the administration's use (or non-use) of intelligence running up to the invasion of Iraq. It is all about how the top officials knew what they wanted to believe, and intentionally set things up to prevent themselves from hearing anything that would contradict their opinion. It is the exact same effect of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "Na Na Na!! I can't hear you! Na Na Na!". What a joke. I'm not sure if any of what happened is actually criminal. Probably not. But it is certainly incompetant and dispicable. What a complete bunch of clowns. And dangerous clowns. They have caused so much damage in the last few years it is unbelieveable.
Anyway, the article is a must read. Read it.
However, I want to point out a specific part near the end. I remember when I was reading about the forged Italian papers when that thing came out screaming to the TV "Follow the forger!!!" but I don't think I ever blogged about it. It may even have been before I started the blog. But in any case, the quick summary is that an Italian reporter got handed to her (for cash) some documents claiming to back up the Niger Yellowcake connection, just in the nick of time for some of the discussions of the Iraq threat. She did some rudimentary research and quickly determined they were fake. But not before they got handed over to the Americans, and got up to the highest levels, where they were accepted as true.
I was seeing a lot written on who the US believed these, or what the failures were that led them to be accepted, etc... but I thought this was all missing a big point...
Who forged the documents in the first place, and why????
Knowing this would tell a lot. It would either document just who was "playing" us and was so successful into manipulating us (Chalabi anyone?) or perhaps it would lead back to someone in the Administration itself, which would be even more damning. Who knows.
Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but I saw very little coverage of that aspect of the forged documents. But there is a decent bit about it here in this article. There is "no general consensus" on the origin of the documents, but several possibilities are cited and talked about. Other possibilities are not discussed, but are clearly possible. I quote a bit of that section below. But read the whole article, and pay special attention to that section.
Finding the true source of these documents should be SOMEONES priority right now. At worst there are serious criminal acts here. At best increadibly stupid intelligence failures. This needs to be followed up.
The FBI is looking, and is quoted in the article as saying "somebody’s hiding something, and they’re hiding it pretty well."
The press should be all over this too. Much more so than they have been so far.
(Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker)
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 sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.(via Just One Minute)
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, we're 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 it—'Here's 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 go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence," my source said. "They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a 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."