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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Provenance 

From Ian Masters's interview with former CIA counterterrorism czar Vincent Cannistraro, on the subject of the infmous forged memo alleging that Iraq had attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from Nigeria:
CANNISTRARO: But, the point is that it’s being taken as conventional wisdom that there really wasn’t any pressure by policy makers on the analytical process itself. And that’s just simply not true. It’s simply not true because analysts, generally, are like anyone else. They are concerned about their careers, their futures. Many of them are ambitious. If they understand that a dissenting opinion against the conventional policy wisdom is heard, that it’s going to affect their careers. There was a chilled environment in which to express any kind of opposite opinion . . . .

The [yellowcake] documents were fabricated by supporters of the policy in the United States. The policy being that you had to invade Iraq in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and you had to do it soon to avoid the catastrophe that would be produced by Saddam Hussein’s use of alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Q: Well, Ambassador Wilson publicly refuted the claims — particularly the 16 words in the President’s State of the Union address that the Iraqis were trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Niger. That document, I understand, was fabricated ... it originally came out of Italian intelligence, I think SISME, or SISDE—I’m not sure which one.

CANNISTRARO: It was SISME, yeah. ...

[D]uring the two-thousands when we’re talking about acquiring information on Iraq. It isn’t that anyone had a good source on Iraq—there weren’t any good sources. The Italian intelligence service, the military intelligence service, was acquiring information that was really being hand-fed to them by very dubious sources. The Niger documents, for example, which apparently were produced in the United States, yet were funneled through the Italians.

Q: Do we know who produced those documents? Because there’s some suspicion ...

CANNISTRARO: I think I do, but I’d rather not speak about it right now, because I don’t think it’s a proven case ...

Q: If I said “Michael Ledeen” ?

CANNISTRARO: You’d be very close . . .

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