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I just noticed that Laura Rozen picked up this diary and has an interesting approach to your question.

Something strange is happening in Italy. For months, the Berlusconi-linked press there has been pushing back on revelations emerging from the Niger forgeries scandal, trying to point away from the evidence that the Italian military intelligence organization Sismi was involved at some level in the scheme. But in the past few days, Milan paper Il Giornale, owned by Paolo Berlusconi (the baby brother of the Italian prime minister -- up for reelection in April), has been publishing selections from the leaked transcripts of those interviewed about the case by a Rome prosecutor, Franco Ionta. Roman blogger de Gondi has translated the Giornale transcript selections here.

What's so strange about it all? The more you read, the more even these carefully excerpted transcripts prove a direct Sismi connection to every single one of the Niger forgeries principals. So why in the world is Il Giornale publishing these? I'm scratching my head. One theory is that they're trying to "contain" the story to the three figures who have already been identified and outted (incidentally all people who have recently been "retired"): the Sismi asset from the Niger embassy in Rome, codenamed La Signora, and identified this past week by the WSJ to be named Laura Montini; forgeries middleman and former Italian intelligence agent Rocco Martino, and former SISMI colonel Antonio Nucera. I've written about the case recently here, and it suggests there were even more Sismi people involved in the background than that, some who still work for the organization. Here's my piece.

The containment strategy is kind of interesting, since it only goes to prove that everyone involved was answering to Sismi at some level (the most interesting transcript in this regard is La Signora's who talks about her various Sismi handlers at various points, first Nucera, later someone else. Her relationship with Sismi was hardly casual). Also interesting, that when Rocco Martino worked for Sismi, his boss was a guy named Mario Ferraro who was found strangled by his bathrobe tie in the 1990s after telling friends he feared his life was in danger. Also very interesting, Rocco Martino covertly taped almost all of his meetings. (Perhaps another intended message from the Il Giornale articles). But who was Rocco taping them for? For his own protection? Or could it be his masters at Sismi? And who leaked the package to Il Giornale? Prosecutor Ionta? Sismi? The Italian parliamentary committee that is supposed to oversee the services? And what about the portions of interviews that weren't leaked? Also revealing.

When all is said and done, the real question is this: where did La Signora get the forgeries that she passed onto Rocco Martino? The Il Giornale published transcripts obscure this. But the answer is in plain sight. She got them from officials at Sismi. Her interview makes clear that that is from whom she was really taking her orders. That is who set her up with Martino in the first place, for precisely that purpose. And it was Sismi which later sent the CIA and other allied intelligence agencies reports based on those forgeries.

Update: Always worth reading as well on this case is the Left Coaster's eRiposte.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Feb 24th, 2006 at 06:40:54 PM EST
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