Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Yellowcake Maze, 4th Edition

New! Improved!

I'm keeping this post close to the top because I think it's going to keep developing.

Changes in the 4th edition:

Added item 6A, the story of David Kelly. Marshall link added in #1.

Changes in the 2nd and 3rd editions:

When I originally wrote this, Item #1 below read something to the effect that Iranian/Iraqi and Italian intelligence people were involved in creating the forgeries. Then I read some further information specifically implicating Italian freelancers with creating the documents and shopping them around the western embassy's trying to make a buck.


Post changed.


Looks like I may need to change it back based on this:
The gist of the article is that Iran was an active supporter of the war because the Shiite mullahs in Tehran thought that a Shiite-controlled Iraq would make a better neighbor than Saddam Hussein's Sunni-controlled secular dictatorship. [Duh] That's no big surprise, since Iran and Iraq were not exactly good buddies, but the implication of the Repubblica article is that not only was the Iranian regime cheering from the sidelines, but the U.S. and the Italians were actively seeking their help.
And...as they say...here's the kicker:
....The bogus Italian dossier on the Niger uranium turns up [at the meeting] also — and we don’t know exactly why — because Chalabi is in possession of it.
I said below that I was suspicious. Anything involving Chalabi is suspect....immediately. If any of this is proved beyond a doubt, look for the roof to blow off politically. Congress might even have to look into it.

Ok ok. I can dream can't I?

Original post with corrections above included:

I don't know if any of you have really been following the story about how "those sixteen words" about Niger uranium yellow-cake ended up in Bush SOTU speech, or how that relates to outing Valerie Plame. Frankly, I've avoided writing about the story because it's such a complicated, twisted story of back-channels, nefarious characters and intrigue. It does seem that the end of the trail is "we have to discredit Joe Wilson".

For what it's worth, here's a very brief, quick, and most importantly, easy to read summary of my understanding of this whole affair. Much of this is from reading Josh Marshall over the last year or so, and this article from the Washington Monthly in 2004, and via the investigative reports of La Republicca (via Kevin Drum). Laura Rozen has also done much work on this story, contributing to my understanding. And remember, some of the story is still postulation at this point. But the guesses are made on a lot of circumstantial evidence that is getting more verified each day. The hope by those-in-the-know is that Fitzgerald is working to get to the bottom of this....all the way to the bottom. His request of Italian records suggest he may be. But I'm a little pessimisstic.

Also. If anyone knows more, has corrections, or can fill in blanks in my little Cliff Notes, please let me know as I'm still trying to figure it out. Here we go:

1) Rogue free-lance Italian intelligence "operatives" steal letterhead and stamps from the Niger embassy. They then forge the Niger documents showing a uranium deal with Iraq. The docs are shopped around Italian intelligence and are picked up by Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, who wants to curry favor with Bush.

Somewhere in here there are a series of meetings between the operatives with the forged docs, some administration folks, and Iraq/Iran dissidents. It's unclear what role the dissident play, but I'm suspicious. (see Changes in the 2nd and 3rd editions above)

2) These folks feed the story and documents to Dept. of Defense intelligence folks who are desperately hungry for justification to go to war in Iraq.

3) Italian intelligence pushes the bad intelligence also, and is the channel for transmission to the West, including Britain.

4) The CIA discounts it as bad intelligence, after being asked to investigate it by Cheney. Joe Wilson is sent to Niger and proves it's bad intelligence.

5) DoD personnel, disputing that the intelligence is bad, keep pushing it through different channels as the CIA/State Dept. block it. Some of the discounting used by CIA/State is due to Wilson's findings and Wilson's private statements. Essentially, Wilson is a foot soldier on the CIA's side of the battle. Cheney specifically begins to wonder about who this Wilson guy is.

6) Inspections in Iraq begin to apparently work and prove that Iraq has no WMD. The justification for attacking Iraq is crumbling. The administration becomes thoroughly desperate to justify attacking Iraq and expedites the campaign. As their rationale/arguments for attacking are being removed one-by-one, that desperation becomes idiocy and CheneyCo rationalize the bad intelligence into Bush's SOTU speech. A plan seems to be hatched to generally discredit Wilson prior to the speech, and to protect the nonsense in the SOTU speech.

6A David Kelly ,British weapons expert "commits suicide" after leaking the story of "sexed up" intelligence from British intelligence to support the attack on Iraq. Kelly's last email is to Judy Miller, claiming that "many dark actors are playing games". Miller had been a friend of Kelly's during earlier years of stories on WMD threats by Iraq. Questions remain as to whether Kelly was assassinated, and why he stayed close to Miller, who persisted in supporting the WMD threat theory.

7) Joe Wilson goes public with a NY Times Op-Ed piece with the facts of his trip to Niger and discredits the yellow-cake story.

8) The quiet, and then not-so-quiet smear campaign escalates against Joe Wilson by outing his wife. The message to the CIA is, if you leak, you will be punished. The entire Washington Press Corpse becomes familiar with Plame via well planned leaks, but keeps it quiet.....especially Pumpkinhead (Russert), Miller, Cooper et. al. Novakula, always the hack, is a willing tool for the administration publishing the story to put the screws to Wilson.

9) The Cheney administration feels comfortable to get-away with it because they know that the god-fearing Ashcroft will do a non-investigation if one is even demanded. They figure that Wilson will go away with yesterdays newspapers and with the next blonde-kidnapped-in-Bermuda story.

10) Wilson counter punches with a book, speaking tour, and generally telling the truth. Liberal media outlets are able to add some muscle to Wilson's charges. Bloggers do their part to keep the story alive. Enough outrage occurs that Ashcroft decides to "investigate". There is outrage over Ashcroft doing the investigation, further amplifying the story. Ashcroft recuses himself and a Federal prosecutor is appointed to investigate......someone who will do a real investigation. Something the Cheney administration didn't count on.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

That's my understanding in an easy to read form. If you want details, check Josh Marshall's archives and the above referenced articles.

If this is even mostly true, those elements in the middle east that wanted Saddam gone played the United States like a fiddle even more effectively than previously thought. We already know that Chalabi screwed Judy Miller over and over again with information and used the NY Times as a propaganda organ. And he is a player in this episode as well as some of the former Iran-Contra characters. Disgusting that American administration officials would be conned so easily. I guess that's why they're called "neo-con"....meaning newbie who is conned.

A lot of people have died because the American public was so frightened by 911 that we would put any yahoo with a six shooter in power to protect us from the boogie man. In the final analysis. The real villains are we Americans. Our addiction to fearing our own shadow coupled with our fasination with a car-wreck-rubber-necking news media has done damage that will literally take generations to repair....if ever. Hopefully we will learn enough to do the repair work.

UPDATE: According to Richard Sale, considered to be a reliable source (via Digby) it looks like Fitzgerald is going to impanel and new grand jury, and will move the investigation into the NigerGate issue above. Fitzgerald also intends to issue charges of violation of Joe Wilson's civil rights by trying to smear him and his ability to earn a living.


At 5:13 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

This is so convoluted and heinous. This is truly the most corrupt and secretive administration in our history. Their behavior teters on the edge of facism.
No, actually they have stepped over the line.
Heil, Bush.


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