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September 06, 2004

Italian Sources: France Forged Niger-Uranium Docs to Embarass Bush and Protect Saddam

U P D A T E D -- Now with quoted print source

Heard about this on Special Report With Brit Hume, and a reader just tipped me with an English-language print link.

According to the report, the Italians are fingering the the French intelligence services as the culprits behind the forged the Niger-uranium documents. They intended to first fool Bush and Blair and then reveal them as forgeries later, so as to embarass them, discredit them, undermine the case for war, and protect their client Saddam Hussein.

They used an Italian-born hustler as their catspaw.

Their desire to continue their lucrative business dealings with Saddam is named as the primary motive.

HERE is a link to the UK Telegraph's story. Excerpts follow.

A row has broken out between France and Italy over whose intelligence service is to blame for the Niger uranium controversy, which led to Britain and America claiming wrongly that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy material for nuclear bombs.

Italian diplomats say that France was behind forged documents which at first appeared to prove that Iraq was seeking "yellow-cake" uranium in Niger - evidence used by Britain and America to promote the case for last year's Gulf war.

They say that France's intelligence services used an Italian-born middle-man to circulate a mixture of genuine and bogus documents to "trap" the two leading proponents of war with Saddam into making unsupportable claims.

They have passed to The Sunday Telegraph a photograph which they claim shows the Italian go-between, sometimes known as "Giacomo" - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - meeting a senior French intelligence officer based in Brussels. "The French hoped that the bulk of the documents would be exposed as false, since many of them obviously were," an Italian official said.

"Their aim was to make the allies look ridiculous in order to undermine their case for war."

According to an account given to The Sunday Telegraph, France was driven by "a cold desire to protect their privileged, dominant trading relationship with Saddam, which in the case of war would have been at risk".

...

"This was la grande trappola [the big trap]. The Americans were now convinced by the French that Saddam really was trying to buy uranium. They thought the French must be right, since not even a gram of uranium in Niger could be shifted without their knowledge."

British officials still say that the claim about Iraqi uranium purchases rested on a second source, not just the now-discredited documents. Intelligence officials from some other Western countries now believe, however, that the second source was also France - part of a "sinister trap" for Mr Blair.

French intelligence was asked by The Sunday Telegraph for a public comment on the allegations against it, but has yet to give one.

There's more at the link, especially about the Italian cut-out "Giacomo."

.........

Our "valuable allies"? Will John Forbes Kerry dare to defend France against this clear-cut enemy action?

As the man says:

IMPACTING HARD...

Background: France has previously denied any involvement, despite the suspicions of the British.

A similar story here.

VCR/TIVO Alert: If you want to see the report yourself, check out the repeat at 12:00 AM eastern time. The item is the leadoff of the Political (or Wartime) Grapevine section of the show, about halfway through the show.

Thanks to AKA Q for finding the print report, which utterly eluded me.

Been There, Done That: MeTooThen disappoints me by noting that both Barcepundit and Roger L. Simon had this yesterday.

Sorry-- I really thought I was scooping the blogosphere. I guess one needs to be quicker than that.

I'm still leaving the siren up, though.

Irresponsible Speculation Update: Recall that Joe Wilson publically said he knew for a fact these documents were forgeries, despite his later admission that he never saw them (or saw them very late into the process).

Mark wants to know: was Wilson an agent, either witting or unwitting, of the French Deception?


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posted by Ace at 09:52 PM

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