Sunday, October 30, 2005

Chronicles of Lies to War

According to Knight Ridder Newspapers," the CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies" on March 8, 2002,

The New York Times writes a helpful article delving into Vice President Cheney's office deep involvement in fighting back against former-Ambassador Wilson's claim that the reason the US went to work were spurious.

Here are helpful dates in the stream of lies by the administration.

Oct. 15, 2001 - The CIA received the first of three top-secret reports from a foreign intelligence service - which intelligence officials said was Italy's SISMI - that Niger planned to ship tons of uranium ore, or yellowcake, to Iraq.

Sept. 9 - With the White House's public campaign against Iraq in full swing, Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, met with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley at the White House. Hadley later took the blame for including the false Niger allegation in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.

SISMI was behind similar reports in Britain and France. Paris never put any stock in the reports, according to two European officials. London has stood behind its statement that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

February 2002 - Cheney and other officials asked the CIA to find out more.
Some CIA and Pentagon analysts were impressed with the reporting. But the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was skeptical. Its analysts noted that France controls Niger's uranium mines and argued that Iraq wouldn't risk being caught breaking U.N. sanctions.

The CIA station in Rome was skeptical of the reports from the start.

Feb. 21 - Wilson traveled to Niger at the CIA's request to investigate the purported uranium deal. He said he found nothing to substantiate the allegation. Neither did two other U.S. officials who investigated.

March 8 - The CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies.

Oct. 1 - U.S. intelligence agencies sent the White House and Congress their key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit weapon programs, which said Iraq was "vigorously" trying to buy uranium ore and had sought deals with Niger, Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The State Department's INR dissented in the report.

Oct. 5 - Then-CIA Director George Tenet advised Hadley to drop a reference to Niger from the draft of a nationally televised speech that Bush was to give on Oct. 7 because the "president should not be a fact witness on this issue" as "the reporting was weak." The sentence was removed.

The CIA then wrote the White House that "the evidence (of a uranium ore deal) is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French."

Oct. 9 - An Italian journalist for the Rome magazine Panorama, owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq war, gave the U.S. Embassy a copy of the purported agreement by Niger to sell yellowcake to Iraq.

The journalist, Elisabetta Burba, reportedly received the documents from Italian businessman Rocco Martino, who has connections to SISMI.

The Italian government has denied any connection to the forged documents.

The embassy forwarded a copy to the State Department. It raised the suspicion of an INR nuclear analyst, who noted in an e-mail that the documents bear a "funky Emb. Of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess.)"

Jan. 13, 2003 - The INR nuclear analyst told other analysts that he believed the Niger documents were forgeries.

Jan. 16 - The CIA finally received copies of the forged French-language documents. It sent them back to the State Department to be translated.

Jan. 17 - A CIA analytical unit known as WINPAC (Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control) said in a secret assessment that there was "fragmentary reporting" on Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from "various countries in Africa."

Sometime in late January, Robert Joseph, a senior White House staffer, and Alan Foley, the head of WINPAC, agreed that Bush could refer to the uranium claim in his State of the Union speech, but he should cite a public British report.

Jan. 28 - Bush delivered the State of the Union.

Feb. 5 - Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council on the threat from Iraq but didn't repeat the yellowcake allegation.

March 3 - The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United States that the documents were forgeries after an expert used the Google search engine to identify false information.

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