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For all of the many details and connections related to the Niger forgeries, please go to wikipedia's page for details, timelines and links. I don't want to bulk up the diary unecessarily....

Also, Josh Marshall mentions it again in a recent entry...

My thoughts are below concerning Michael Ledeen being the person who was behind the forgery of the documents.


From the Alternet interview with former counterterrorism chief, Vincent Cannistaro:

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.

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.

Do we know who produced those documents? Because there's some suspicion ...

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

If I said "Michael Ledeen" ?

You'd be very close...

What I didn't know until today was that there was a companion piece to the forged Yellowcake document that was also a forgery. A quote from this source says:

...included with the yellowcake documents was a completely over-the-top memo in which all the countries under sanctions conspired together to have the sanctions lifted.

Here is a link to more information on the companion piece.

Now, in terms of a timeline, we know the Niger forgeries were given to the US Embassy in Rome in October 2002. So, was Michael Ledeen, neo-con extroadinaire, resposible for the forgery?

Well, I think it's curious that in September 2002 (one month before the Niger forgeries were provided to the US Embassy, with the companion forgery), Ledeen wrote an article for the National Review where he says in the last paragraph the following:

Let's hope they've learned their lesson and realize that Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are now working together against us.

Now this is not conclusive evidence of any sort, but it does strike me as curious that a month before the forged companion piece was "given" to the US Embassy in Rome, Ledeen was giving a heads up to a conspiracy of Middle Eastern countries in the National Review. If he was behind the forgery, the acceptance of the companion letter as a valid document would have more legitimacy if it was mentioned previously....

Originally posted to jbalazs on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:36 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Also, don't forget... (none)
    This was the story that CBS dumped at the last minute in favour of the TANG story (which, ironically enough, turned out to be yet another forgery...)

    More here:

    written by, you guessed it, Michael Isikoff!

    Canadians care too...

    by jbalazs on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:37:52 AM PDT

  •  Re (none)
    If you google Ledeen, you get reports on his connections to Italian military intelligence going back to the 1970s. Plus, he was a major Iran-contra player.

    The larger conspiracy of the Plame case is who conspired to forge the Niger documents.  

    Attack social security? No way!

    by eoglesby on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:49:35 AM PDT

  •  Several things about Michael Ledeen (4.00)
    First, in case you didn't remember, he was actually involved with Oliver North back in Iran Contra days.

    Second, this is a good quick source for more detailed info about him and his background

    Third, his daughter Simone was involved with the Coalition Provisional Authority, going there from Heritage.  At the time she was I believe 29 years olde.  Granted, she did have an MBA, had done some related work before and spoke several languages, but none of them was Arabic, nor did she have any background in Iraqi culture.  She was recruited by people I believe in the White House for the job, and she became one of a group of around 6 people who wound up running several billions of the effort of the CPA -- and remember, the CPA cannot account for quite a lot of the money.   I do not want to accuse of anything per se, nor do I necessarily believe in guilt by association.  What is interesting to me is how viscerally anti-Arab and anti-Muslim her father has been, and yet she winds up in key position theoretically involved with the "rebuilding" of Iraq.

    For what it's worth.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:53:16 AM PDT

    •  Ledeen and Iran-Contra (none)
      You mention Ledeen's old Oliver North connections.  I submit this from North's Under Fire, p.21-22.

      American-made weapons reached Iran in two ways: from Israeli stockpiles, which we eventually replenished, and from US military warehouses.

      In both cases, the weapons and the money moved through various private-sector American, Israeli, and Iranian intermediaries, including Richard Secord, Albert Hakim, Yakov Nimrodi, Al Schwimmer, and of course, Ghorbanifar... Ghorbanifar did not exactly have the endorsement of the Better Business Bureau

      ... With the exception of Michael Ledeen, a consultant to the NSC, nobody trusted Gorba.  Even the Israelis, who brought him to us in the first place, didn't trust him completely... he had failed three CIA polygraph exams, where he had reportedly dissembled about everything except his name and nationality.  Later, during the congressional hearings, the question came up repeatedly: how could we work with somebody like that?

      What made Ledeen such a trusting soul?  Hmmm.  20 years ago.

      I learned quite a bit from this diary and its links and am much obliged.  Recommended, and now subscribed to the diarist.

      A title like "Niger forgery connects to Uber-Neocon" might have flown higher, since Ledeen's name still has teflon on it, it seems.

      Anyway, looks like there are enough recommends to make the lower level of jotter's digest, at least.

      Be all that you can be: Work for peace - - Jesus (Mt.5:9)

      by Upstream Review on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 12:59:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  interesting the connection w/Ghorbanifar (none)
        since he has resurfaced again,most recently since a close associate is apparently the primary source used by Congressman Curt Weldon for his book and its claim that Iran is hiding Osama bin Laden.

        I also remember that Ghorbanifar was, along with Chalabi, one of the principle sources (or at least conduits) of mininfromation about Iraq in the runup to the Iraq War during 2002   --  he may also ahve served as one of the "sources" for Judith Miller of the NY Times.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

        by teacherken on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 01:08:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ledeen must still trust him implicitly (none)
          To provide "the goods."

          That's nice homework you've got there, Teacherken.  And this Niger thing is still the big story under the big story, if I'm not mistaken.

          Be all that you can be: Work for peace - - Jesus (Mt.5:9)

          by Upstream Review on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 02:35:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is anyone looking into this now? (none)
    It seems hugely important to me.  Thanks for your excelent summary of what's known so far.  
  •  Billmon has an interesting post . . . (none)
    based on the Senate Intelligence Committe report that says the US intel community had documents pertaining to the Niger claims by the beginning of 2002. His assessment is that the autumn 2002 forgeries may have been produced by intel folk trying to foil Cheney et al., kind of like Sy Hersh said.

    Here's the link to Billmon's post. He's not arguing that the earlier docs were authentic, probably just better forgeries than those your post addresses.

    If Billmon and Hersh are on the right track, focusing too much on the later forgeries alone may reveal how CIA types tried to counter cooked intelligence rather than how Cheney's kitchen crew baked it up in the first place.

    Don't ask me nothin' 'bout nothin'; I just might tell you the truth -- Bob Dylan

    by ponderer on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 07:59:47 AM PDT

  •  More dirt on Ledeen (none)
    The 1983 Grenada [pre-emptive] Invasion

    Oliver North mentions "an enormous archive of documents" that was discovered in Grenada during the invasion and brought back to Washington for analysis [Under Fire p.269].

    It offered the first detailed case study of a Soviet takeover of another country that we had ever seen.  One of the experts assigned to study these documents was Michael Ledeen

    OK I'm already suspicious.  The Cold Warriors used this "find" in Grenada to argue "conclusively" for an international communist threat in our hemisphere, did they not?

    Are Mr. Ledeen's fingerprints on every bit of "proof" there is in this world for the rationale of pre-emptive war-making?

    Be all that you can be: Work for peace - - Jesus (Mt.5:9)

    by Upstream Review on Mon Jul 04, 2005 at 02:49:34 PM PDT

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