Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Thanks to de Gondi for making this available to English
speaking readers.   To my mind the interesting (if believable) point is the news that the Niger hoax was already being "circulated" to a receptive and high-level audience in the summer of 2001, i.e., just before 9/11.
This might partially explain Rumsfeld's 9/11 order to "roll it all up" into an excuse to attack Saddam  To me this is further circumstantial evidence that the goal of the 9/11 attacks was to produce the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We already know the names of a number of the active participants in this disinformation campaign, although
we know neither the extent to which they "really believed" nor who was directing the orchestra.  

Needless to say, any information being doled out by an
acknowledged spymaster must be accepted only with a high degree of skepticism.   Nevertheless, the Dgse has not been ro recently, publicly, and conspicuously wrong as the U.S. "intelligence" services.

Hannah K. O'Luthon

by Hannah K OLuthon on Fri Dec 2nd, 2005 at 08:10:18 AM EST
It's great to see you checking in, Hannah. I understand your job keeps you off-site a lot. Hope to see you back soon. There's so much going on in Italy that a few more hands would be great.

Anyway, back to this article, I was very happy to see a French official speak out on the case. It's a point that I think is very important. Of course one can't expect or pretend that a government or an agency respond to innuendo or smear. It's in the norm to ignore the din, which is precisely what the DGSE and the French government has always been doing- and is still doing.

This was what I intended to put up as my lead graph for this piece (modified for Kos):

One of the intriguing aspects of the Niger hoax was the silence of French authorities. Well before the coalition invasion of Iraq France was on the receiving end of a vicious smear campaign as well as prurient antics in the US House of Representatives. Before DU and WP gave a whole new meaning to Freedom Fries, that was what we were fed on the Hill. When the Niger forgeries hit the press in July 2003, the Financial Times was on stage accusing the French of masterminding the hoax. Nor were they alone. It became a rightwing truism.

 "Frankly, if you put aside the slanderous aspects of the affirmation, Niger is francophone and we know everything about it. Nobody here would've made the mistake of mixing up ministers," a French DGSE agent laughed in response to the Financial Times. That perhaps was about as close as you would get to an official French statement on the matter.

Now this has changed. In an in-depth article published on December 1st in the Italian daily, la Repubblica, the two authors, Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D'Avanzo, interview the retired Number Two DGSE chief, Alain Chouet, on the case. Bonini and D'Avanzo, by the way, were the first to reveal the Iraq-Niger yellowcake scam.

Beyond that, the project to invade Iraq has been around since the nineties. Clinton opted for containment, embargo, harassment and caused consequential starvation. Plus a hell of a lot of multinationals reaped profits off the situation. I don't think it's a secret that taking out Iraq was part of the Bush agenda since day one of his tenure. The problem was finding a causus belli, and 9/11 was a golden opportunity to sting Saddam's wretched  regime. The INC pulled out all the plugs throughout the world to get their disinformation across. There was Curveball, the Atta-Prague spin, the tailor-made defectors, fantastic meets of Iraqi officials and Bin Laden in Kandahara, WMDs galore- the sort of entertaining bullshit you'll get in Diehard sequel.

There is no smoking gun that links the INC to the Niger documents. It may actually have been an opportunistic operation that got out of control and was reigned in as some sort of messy pastiche, smothered in State Secrecy sauce. Damage control.

The Italian position is untenable. The government and the Sismi insist Italy has nothing to do with the story. A small time con artist from Formello ends up in the limelight as a French agent. And Italy applies state secrecy! It's a great script if it weren't for the appalling tragedy it brought on.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 2nd, 2005 at 05:09:29 PM EST
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