Sixteen Words, Shmixteen Words?

I just think that this deserves some discussion.

**Iraq Had Talks on Buying Uranium for Nukes -FT **
Sunday, June 27, 2004; 10:12 PM *
LONDON (Reuters) - Iraq was among several countries in negotiations to buy supplies of illicit uranium from Niger at least three years before the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the Financial Times reported Monday.
Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined uranium from the West African country to several states, including Iraq, the newspaper reported, citing senior European intelligence sources.

FT link:
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Intelligence backs claim Iraq tried to buy uranium
*By Mark Huband in Rome
Published: June 27 2004 21:56 | Last Updated: June 27 2004 21:56 *
Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq…senior European intelligence officials have told the Financial Times
Intelligence officers learned between 1999 and 2001 that…smugglers planned to sell illicitly mined Nigerien uranium ore, or refined ore called yellow cake, to …Iraq.

…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.
Officials said the fake documents…added little to the picture gathered from human intelligence and were only given weight by the Bush administration.
According to a senior counter-proliferation official, meetings between Niger officials and would-be buyers from the five countries were held in several European countries… Intelligence officers were convinced that the uranium would be smuggled from abandoned mines in Niger, thereby circumventing official export controls
The UK government used the details in its Iraq weapons dossier, which it used to justify war with Iraq after concluding that it corresponded with other information it possessed, including evidence gathered by GCHQ, the UK eavesdropping centre, of a visit to Niger by an Iraqi official.

more recently updated version of the FT story:

Intelligence backs claims Iraq had talks on uranium
By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent
Published: June 28 2004 5:00 | Last Updated: June 28 2004 5:00

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Your contention, Simon?

I don’t remember, did the letter that the Bush administration have less security implications surounding its release? I’m asking if that letter could have been played up because it was part of the evidence they had which was safer to release.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is talking about this story, and suggesting that it may be an attempt to muddy the waters by those involved, but he is being a bit coy. He suggests that he knows the full truth and will reveal it in time, but it isn’t clear why he waits, when he plans on revealing the story, or how he has come to know differently.

Other than, “I just think that this deserves some discussion,” I’m not sure yet.
Apparently, the Brits did indeed have some more info that they weren’t sharing. Pretty safe assumption from the gitgo. Of course, none of that in anyway excuses teh use of ‘crude forgeries’ by the US to try and validate its case. I mean assuming that the reports are true, the use ‘crude frogeries’ does nothing but undermine the credibility of a case for what would be a serious breach of international security. A very irresponsible thing for anyone to do.
I’ve not enough info to go much further.
This matter deserves careful scrutiny, IMHO. I’m sure it will get quite a bit.

I’m certain that it did have fewer security implications surrounding its release in that it was a forgery detectable via Google.
(“No spies were harmed in the making or release of this memo” ;))

Well, since it was a forgery it wasn’t evidence of anything but duplicity and/or gullibility.

He’s supposed to be working on some related pieces with some of his colleagues.
He doesn’t want to scoop himself, I imagine.

But isn’t there another possibility now? I mean if this revelation is true. What is the other choice? Did any of these other intelligence sources make their way to Congress? If the administration used the forged document to make a case to the public, but used the reliable inteligence to make the case to Congress, isn’t there another choice besides gullibility and duplicity?

I’m think of something like “a poor excuse for an intelligence trick”.

It seems that the revelations about the poorly forged documents are more harmful to the case than claims of secret evidence.
Better to be thought a fool and all.
Once someone is shown to be dishonest/incompetent, their credibility rating plummets.

A trick without duplicity?
Is this like dehydrated water?
Are you trying to say that the use of poorly forged documents was for ‘our own good’?

No, I’m not claiming anything. I’m just musing about the possiblity that duplicity with regards to an event that did not happen is not the same thing as duplicity with regards to false evidence for an event which did.

I should not I am not really claiming that the event is true, nor that the falsity of the letter in question did little to invluence anyone. I’m really just musing. I’m doing it here because you seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of this particular issue.

oh. I must’ve misunderstood.

Tenet says:
The NIE states: “A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of pure “uranium” (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out the arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake.” The Estimate also states: “We do not know the status of this arrangement.” With regard to reports that Iraq had sought uranium from two other countries, the Estimate says: “We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.” Much later in the NIE text, in presenting an alternate view on another matter, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research included a sentence that states: “Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR’s assessment, highly dubious.”
For whatever reasons, the forgeries were sent to those in the UN who we, (ostensibly), wished to persuade. For the life of me, I can’t see someone trying this if the forgeries were as poorly done as reported, ‘with a straight face’.

IAEA, presumably could’ve, (and may have), requested whatever intel was available from the European nations whose intelligence services are being discussed in this most recent report.
What’s being reported now has signifigant differences from the PotUSA’ 16 word and from the forgery.

IIRC, the Pres said that Iraq had ‘recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.’
This newer report does not say that Iraq was the seeker and it says that the ‘negotiations’ occurred ‘at least three years before the US-led invasion’, ‘between 1999 and 2001’ which may or may not make it ‘recent’ depending on pov.
The forgeries were presented as being from one gov to another. This report has it as a group of ‘smugglers’. ‘Smugglers’ doesn’t exclude a gov, but it’s not the same thing as one.

Wilson previously reported, (in the words of Tenet), "that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official [Wilson] meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales. "
Also, IIRC, the forgery was a contract for a sale, while this report uses the broader phrase ‘being negotiated.’

This report also mentions that China is among those on the list of potential buyers. Ignorant as I am, this seems odd. Couldn’t China do as it pleases with its own uranium? Or does it not happen to have access to uranium ore within its borders?

Still, no conclusions drawn except that the forgery and the more recent report are not necessarily discussing the same set of events.

I suppose I was being too brief again. I did not meant that they reffered to the same particular event itself. Just that they reffered to the same sort of event in the same time frame. That is, Iraq wanted uranium and Niger was one of the possible sources.

I thought the smugglers were the Nigerians. Did I miss something?

Unfortunately the intelligence relationship between the UN and many member nations is not as <what’s the word> intimate as some of us might like. I asked specifically about congress, as passing the forged document along without any other intelligence to congress would be a much greater sort of duplicity than simply using it in statements meant for public consumption. At least IMHO.

While typing this, I just had an odd thought. Is it possible that this episode was a feint? That is Bush provided this letter in the hopes that it would be caught as a forgery? Are they making any noise along the lines of “See we were right?”. That’s a little too tinfoil hat for me. But I just had to share it.

Oh, I should add that if my musings on this subject are too far out there or weird for the discussion you had in mind please tell me. I’ll willingly shut up.

I didn’t mean to imply that you did. I was just following your lead with my own musings.

I don’t think that the FT specifies.

I wonder as well where exactly the forgeries travelled.
There is, IIRC, a current and ongoing FBI investigation into this matter.
Tomorrow’s my last day of certain internet access. Where this all goes from here…

I don’t get it.

No worries.
I think that we’re just not quite in sync yet.
It’ll work itself out.
I’m just tickled that anyone else wants to talk about it actually.

Thanks. Darn knuckle typing again. :wink:

Well, I’m not sure I do either. I was wondering if Bush could have distributed the forged document to get his opponents (internationally, more than domestic) to use it against him. Then he allows someone to reveal that the alleged seeking of Uranium from Niger did in fact occur. If said opponents had made broad statements along the lines of “No such transfer ever occured”, or “There is no evidence that such a transfer was ever a threat”, Bush could have a politically useful argument by saying “See, I could not reveal the true intelligence before, but now that I can it can be demonstrated that I was right, and those who thought the “Niger connection” a figment of my imagination were simply politically motivated.”

Or some such line of reasoning. I agree that it requires a bit more savy or stupidity (dependign on how you look at it) than I am inclinded to atribute to Bush. But some sort of motive along these lines would at least be a reason to use a forgery as obvious as the one under discussion.

Personally, I fear the Bush simply used it as the only inteligence available in the public debate (Do we know if Bush or the CIA was aware of the evidence which has recently surfaced?) which also supported his argument. It was almost certainly incompetance in one form or another.

O, I C.

Given Tenet’s staement that I quoted above, where he quotes the NIE, it’s not clear if this is actually new info or not.
All along the Admin has said that the Brits were sticking to their story.
Maybe it was a feint of sorts.
I’ve not the time to elaborate on that now though, sorry.

I’d bet that this’ll be well analyzed in a few days.

A bit of the story that Josh Marshall alluded to has been scooped by others, and so he has shared a bit, with more to come. The upshot: Yes, we have no yellowcake story. The 16 words were bunk.