by de Gondi
Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 08:09:06 PM EST
Whatever information on a possible Saddam-Niger uranium pact was dismissed by CIA analysts in 2001. Presumably the CIA had received some forgeries, directly or indirectly from the Italian secret services, SISMi. The rest is public: Cheney wanted a double check on the CIA conclusions. Wilson was dispatched to Niger; General Fulford also went on a fact-finding mission to Niger and, according to some European reports, to the Congo. Both Wilson and Fulford came to the same conclusions: there was no yellowcake traffic to Iraq.
In September 2002 a sexed-up set of forgeries was offered to Elisabetta Burba, a reporter for Panorama. "Sexed-up" because some of the documents could not have been presented in 2001. They refer to events that occurred in 2002. On advise from her editor, Carlo Rosella, she turned over copies to two employees at the US Rome Embassy. It was Rosella who organized the meeting. It was not known what role these two employees covered.
Now it gets interesting.
In an overlooked column in Il Riformista, dated July 23rd, 2003, the anonymous author declares that Jeff Castelli, the Rome CIA station chief, had just been recalled to Langley by Tenet allegedly because of his misconduct. The article states that according to anonymous intelligence sources, Castelli had not handled the Burba Niger forgeries correctly.
Apparently Castelli had dismissed the forgeries right off as the same old stuff and had not bothered to forward them to Langley until February 2003.
However, the forgeries had been immediately sent to the Europa State desk which fowarded to State in Washington. This occurred at the beginning of October. But back in Rome, Jeff Castelli did not receive the forgeries until October 19th.
If we are to give any credit to the Riformista reconstruction, it appears that Castelli had already dealt with Niger forgeries before. But what may strike the reader in the light of recent developments is that the sexed-up edition of the Niger forgeries only went to State and not to the CIA. It was State that went public on December 19th, 2002, with the accusations against Niger- accusations promptly denied by the Niger Minister of Mines, Rabiou Hassan Yari, and PM Hama Amadou, yet totally ignored by the MSM.
Was the CIA being side-stepped? Was the CIA privy to the new enhanced forgeries? And in State what exactly was going on, given that their intelligence analysts (Carl Ford, for example) are no fools either?
Jeff's shift in Rome was not only Niger, but Abu Omar. Just as he sent the Niger forgeries, he was allegedly coordinating the Abu Omar kidnapping. Reports in Italy are conflicting. In an interview with la Repubblica, Michael Scheuer declared that the kidnapping was actually organized by Jim Pavitt at Langley while Jeff's role was not the maverick bravado that some reporters depict. In this latter version, Bob Seldon Lady grudgingly executed orders from Castelli. Lady apparently did not agree with the operation. Castelli may have been recalled for his overbearing handling of the operation. Scheuer however, dismissed this version and remarked that Jeff had simply finished his assignment to Rome.
Be that as it may, the arrest warrant is for Lady and not Castelli.
The chief prosecutor in Milan, Armando Spataro, has appealed the preliminary court's decision to issued only 13 arrest warrants. The court had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to incriminate another six individuals.
A further ruling is expected in the next few days.