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I'm working on other aspects of this story for a much larger post over at Wampum, but I wanted to separately highlight this bit of news buried in the larger NYTimes story on the source of the Niger documents:

Italy's top spymaster on Thursday identified an occasional spy for Italy named Rocco Martino as the source of forged documents stating that Iraq was buying tons of uranium ore from Niger that could be used in a nuclear weapons program, two Italian lawmakers said.

General Nicolò Pollari, the director of the Italian military intelligence agency known as Sismi, made his remarks in exceptional closed-door testimony to a parliamentary commission that oversees secret services, the lawmakers said.

The revelation came on a day when the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it had shut down its two-year investigation into the origin of the forged documents that described Iraq's efforts to buy a uranium concentrate known as yellowcake.

The F.B.I. reasons for closing the investigation?

Committee members said they were shown documents defending General Pollari, including a copy of a classified letter from Robert S. Muller III, the director of the F.B.I., dated July 20, which praised Italy's cooperation with the bureau.

In Washington, an official at the bureau confirmed the substance of the letter, whose contents were first reported Tuesday in the leftist newspaper L'Unità.  The letter stated that Italy's cooperation proved the bureau's theory that the false documents were produced and disseminated by one or more people for personal profit, and ruled out the possibility that the Italian service had intended to influence American policy, the newspaper said.

As a result, the letter said, according to both the F.B.I. official and L'Unità, the bureau had closed its investigation into the origin of the documents.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to start, and so will save my indepth analysis for the larger post.  First and foremost, however, is how the FBI, if it has just been revealed that Rocco Martino is the source, decided the reason for the production of the documents was soley for personal profit.  

It appears there are problems abound at the Bureau.  (Paging Muller...Paging Scully)    

I will add, however, that it's ironic that, according to Juan Cole, Amad Chalabi, who even the NYTimes speculated might be involved in the production of the false documents, is meeting today in Washington with Condi Rice and Stephen Hadley.

And to add a bit more intrigue, this time from the AP story on the subject, throw this into the mix:

Bianco said the officials denied that SISMI, Italy's secret service, ''ever had a role in the dossier that was supposed to have demonstrated that Iraq was in an advanced phase of possession of enriched uranium."

The United States and Britain used the claim that Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa to bolster their case for war. The intelligence supporting the claim was later deemed unreliable.

Commission member Senator Massimo Brutti told reporters after the closed-door session that the commission was told that the Italian secret services warned the United States in January 2003 that the dossier was fake.

But later, the senator called the Associated Press to retract that statement. He said that the commission was not told that the Italians had warned the Americans.

Brutti said he was confused by the barrage of reporters' questions when the lawmakers emerged from the briefing.

Brutti said what he meant to say was that the commission was told that a SISMI official, contacted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna about the dossier, told the UN agency that ''those documents didn't come from SISMI, they weren't produced nor supplied by SISMI."

Reopen the investigation, Director Mueller.  Today.

Originally posted to mbw on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 06:46 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Crickets chirping... (4.00)
    Did I miss some big diary on this already?  I searched the tags.
  •  overlap (none)
    There was another diary this morning on similar topic, with seven comments so far.
     Titled:  "Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents Identified!"
  •  Martino is a patsy... (none)
    Things get fast and furious in the AM. Diaries disappear quick. Anyway, I'm recommending. For what it's worth, I found an interesting angle- http://www.dailykos.com/... see, back in 2001 Rove and Co. actually played a hand in former FBI chief Louis Freeh's departure.  I can't help but think that as Scooter so eloquently said "their roots connect them"... Maybe they cleared out a real lawman to put in a henchman....
  •  indeed (none)
    which goes to me question from earlier.  If MArtino is supposed to have pulled this off for personal profit, who paid him and why?  When we know the answers to those questions, maybe we can "close the books."
    •  And remember... (none)
      The stationary and seal were stolen from the Niger embassy sometime between Dec 29, 2000 and Jan 02, 2001.  How was Martino, completely on his own, to know that forged yellowcake documents might be useful nearly a year later?
  •  i'm not disagreeing (none)
    the idea of Martino as lone wolf is absurd and comes from the classic tradition rogue patsies turned up by committee investigations.  If not for Martino, Lyndie England, and Scooter Libby, everything would be cool, right?  But your question about the timing of the break-in applies to any conspiracy theory as well, no?  Who was planning that far ahead and why?
    •  The $10,000,000 question... (none)
      As an academic historian/archaeologist, I'm generally not a big one on conspiracy theories, but this whole story, beginning on New Year's in 2001, has truly piqued my interest, as I notice, it has Josh Marshall as well.
  •  the story sticks in my craw as well (none)
    but you have the misfortune here of talking to a novelist by trade, which isn't to say i'm prone to buy conspiracies either - just that i like a good story, and i can't figure out why this one doesn't seem to have more purchase, (and yes, i take heart in josh marshall's responsible interest).  but just to spitball irresponsibly here, one of the most intriguing elements is ghorbanifar's presence at those mysterious rome meetings - ghorbanifar, Iran's Chalabi and a well-known old-hand at forgery.  whose to say he didn't want the embassy documents to drum up American fears about Iranian purchases of yellowcake - just to have on hand in case?  then the Iraq opportunity came along, and what the hell, there was money to be had.

    though that still leaves the question, whose money and why, and i still have trouble believing that even a rogue administration operative would be that stupid.

    we should probably just wait for what josh marshall says...

    •  I'd only wished I'd been reading him (none)
      for the last few months (stopped, for some reason or another) as it would have saved me a lot of research on my own.  C'est la vie.

      interdum verum est instituo in plumbum album

      by mbw on Fri Nov 04, 2005 at 09:25:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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