Monday, March 21, 2005

Let Them Eat Yellowcake

One thing I've always found rather bothersome (among many things in the Bush administration) is the lack of a serious investigation of the origins of the forged documents purporting to be about uranium yellowcake sales from Niger to Iraq. Those documents didn't create themselves -- someone forged them, and someone had a motive to forge them. Someone was carrying out a deception operation to try to convince the U.S. (and the West more broadly) that the Baathist regime in Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. But who? We know that they entered the pipeline through Italian military intelligence (SISMI) in late 2001, and echoed around Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA and MI6, in the months after that.

Who had a motive? Well, the fact that the Israeli government and Iraqi exiles both wanted the U.S. to invade Iraq was well known, as with the American neocons. I don't pretend to know who did it, but given the standard investigative questions law enforcement agencies usually start with, American neocons themselves seem the most likely suspects, especially Michael Ledeen. He visited Rome for the meeting with Ghorbanifar et al in right around the time the Niger forgeries first entered the system, and senior officials of SISMI took part in those meetings with Ledeen. He also knew some of these people quite well, as he had lived there for a couple of years in the 1970s when he was writing for the New Republic, and frequently cited "Italian intelligence sources" in his articles. It's also interesting to note that Ghorbanifar lives in France, not Italy, why not just meet with him in France? And why involve officials from SISMI? Does this mean that he was somehow involved? I don't know. But he does seem to have 1) a motive, 2) have been at the scene of the crime around the time it happened, and 3) know some of the other people involved.

Some people have suggested that the Israelis might have done it themselves. I'm almost certain they didn't. First, while it was clear that the Israeli govenment would be favorably disposed to the U.S. taking out Saddam, I don't think they would risk the damage the U.S.-Israel relationship which could result if such a deception operation were exposed. Second, if they did it, they wouldn't have done such an amateurish job of forging the documents themselves.

What I do suspect is that the American neocons did it for them, as the Ledeen/Rhode/Franklin timeline suggests may have been the case. The American people deserve a full investigation.

Since Michael Ledeen sometimes posts on blogs, like here and here maybe he can grace us with his presence and explain himself. But I'd rather have him do it under oath on Capitol Hill. Why are Dems on the Hill letting this go? Whether my theory is right or not, somebody out there clearly was running a deception operation against the U.S. government designed to get us into Iraq. Don't we want to know who?


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