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View Diary: Niger Yellowcake and The Man Who Forged Too Much (192 comments)

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  •  Explain something to me (none)
    In late 2001, a SISMI officer supposedly gives the forged documents to the mysterious "lady" at the Nigerien embassy.  The "lady" puts them in a packet of genuine documents which she gives to Rocco Martino, who occasionally works for SISMI himself.

    This diary questions whether the "lady" even exists.  But putting that aside, how does it make any sense at all for SISMI to go to all this trouble to slip forged documents to one of their own people?

    I mean, as cover stories go, this one is particularly bizarre.  How is anyone supposed to buy it?

    •  Did you catch the part.... (4.00)
      ..about they Honduran-born guy named "Robert Lady"?
    •  It does make sense (none)
      The story that SISMI told CIA when they first raised the documents was that a Nigerien embassy person had passed the documents on. It gives the whole story much more credibility if the documents come from the embassy than if they're just found.

      In addition, some of the back-story was supposed to be that the documents came when the Foreign Minister of Niger sent out documents to some of Niger's foreign embassies telling them of the Iraq uraniium sale.

      The mysterious lady provides a somewhat plausible provenance for the documents.

      This is the way democracy ends Not with a bomb But with a gavel -Max Baucus

      by emptywheel on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 07:33:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok, but (none)
        I'm focusing on a slightly different part of the story, the part where the SISMI official gives the forged documents to the "lady."

        If true, this makes no sense; why go through an elaborate charade just to fool their own agent, when they could simply tell their agent to lie about getting them from the embassy?

        If false, it makes no sense that anyone would invent this fact, because it doesn't enhance the "cover story" at all.

        I understand why it helps "authenticate" the documents to say they came from the embassy, but you can make that story up without involving the actual embassy at all.  So I'm still confused.

        •  It makes sense (none)
          ...if you think about the Italian SISMI as actually two organizations -- one run/influenced by P2 or a similar cabal, and one run by "legitimate" government agents. Another way to put it, one faction is trying to push events based on an extreme right-wing ideology, the other wing is trying to use spycraft to discover reality. They can't just ask the agent to lie if he's part of the second wing. Note that this also perfectly describes intelligence operations in this country as well.
          •  However (none)
            if the "agent" is outside their control, I don't see how they can covertly slip him forged documents and expect him to pass them on to a specific person, and so forth.  Unless they're in a position to give him specific instructions, they have no idea what he might do with the forged documents.

            And if the idea is that the "agent" is not part of the plan and thus needs to be fooled, then the "lady" would have to actually exist, right?  If the agent is a dupe, why would he make up that story later?

            •  The agent isn't outside "their" control (none)
              His acts may have been outside SISMI control, but not P-2.  And it was as part of P-2's parallel network that the SISMI agent was really operating.

              Passing the docs on to the Nigerien Embassy is the really weak point of the whole thing.  Since Martino was already a member of P-2, just as he was already a member of SISMI, it is doubtful either way whether he actually got the docs from a woman at the Niger Embassy.  That's just the cover story.

              Who's he supposed to say he got them from?  The truth?  No, it has to be someone from within the Niger Embassy because they are supposedly legit.  So someone has to give that person the docs to pass them on since they are, in fact, forgeries.

              But the fact the docs HAVE to come from the Niger Embassy doesn't mean that there just happened to be someone IN the Niger Embassy to serve as the conduit.

              In fact, since the Niger Embassy was a listening post for SISMI for two decades, it is highly unlikely that they'd ever risk passing the docs through such a contact.  No, I don't believe the lady from Niger ever existed.  It's just a cover story.

              •  I'm almost with you (none)
                But let's assume the documents never passed through the embassy, that's just a cover story.  Then what really happened is the documents were forged, someone at P-2 gave them to Martino, and said "Go sell these to xxx, and tell them you got them from a lady at the embassy."  We agree this is the most likely version of events, right?

                So in that case, what's with the part of the story where someone at SISMI provides the forged documents to the lady at the embassy?  It didn't really happen, and it doesn't make any sense as part of the cover story either, so where does that line even come from?

                Are you saying that when Martino "came clean," what he actually revealed was kind of half-truth, half-cover story?

          •  Exactly (none)
            I didn't just make up the SISMI agent passed the info the the NigeriEn ;) lady, who passed it on to Martoni.  That was the story fed to Joshua Marshall.  

            It only makes sense when you consider that there were TWO intelligent networks working side by side, both employing SISMI agents.

            And they wanted to keep SISMI out of it.

        •  what emptywheel and smith said (none)
          it's all about provenance. That's a very important part of any counter-espionage operation.

          "What they found is a silver bullet in the form of a person."

          by subtropolis on Fri Jul 22, 2005 at 09:54:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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