Niger Forgeries Update

NIGER FORGERIES UPDATE….George Bush’s famous 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address, as we all know, were these:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

The slender reed that Bush apologists have leaned on ever since is that even if the uranium story was bogus, it’s still true that the British believed it, and that’s all Bush said. But did the British have good reason to believe it? Did they have any evidence aside from the notorious Italian forgeries suggesting that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Africa?

Henry Farrell has read part three of La Repubblica’s expose on the Italian forgery scheme, and they say the answer is no. As the Butler report noted, the British did have a second piece of evidence aside from the fake Niger memos, but according to La Repubblica:

This ?evidence? has never been brought forward….?If it ever were brought forward,? said a source in Forte Braschi to la Repubblica, with a smile, ?it would be discovered, with red faces, that it was Italian intelligence collected by SISMI at the end of the 1980?s, and shared with our friend Hamilton McMillan.?

In other words, nobody, not the British and not the Americans, had any serious evidence that Saddam had tried to buy uranium from Africa. The only evidence in the whole affair was disinformation cooked up by Italian intelligence and their partners. As for who those partners were, no one knows. But the people who attended this meeting a few weeks after 9/11 are a pretty good guess.

Henry also has a very short summary of the affair that seems accurate to me, as well as some useful warnings. Go read.