On March 17, 2003, ten days after the Director-General
of the International Atomic Energy Agency publicly reported
to the UN Security Council that,
"One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings
that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed
or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited
activities at any inspected sites.
"Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium
"Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum
tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such
a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuge
out of the aluminum tubes in question."
Henry Waxman, then the Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight
and Government Reform, began formally
requesting of Condi Rice, then Bush’s National Security Adviser, an explanation
of the use, by President Bush and other top Administration officials, of "fabricated
intelligence" to "justify" Bush’s exercise of the highly conditional
authority Congress had provided under the Joint
Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.
That Resolution authorized Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States
as he determines to be "necessary" and appropriate in order to "defend
the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed
We now know
that Bush-Cheney came into office, intending to invade and occupy Iraq. But
they needed an excuse and a rationale.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon provided the
But, in his final report before being forced to withdraw from Iraq by President
Clinton at the end of 1998 Director-General ElBaradei had reported,
"The verification activities have revealed no indications that Iraq had achieved
its program objective of producing nuclear weapons or that Iraq had produced
more than a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material or had clandestinely
acquired such material.
"Furthermore, there are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical
capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical
But even more significantly, ElBaradei reported that
"There were no indications of significant discrepancies between the technically
coherent picture that had evolved of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program
and the information contained in Iraq's 'Full, Final, and Complete Declaration.'"
Hence, as of January 1999, if any country in the world was certified to be
nuke program free, it was Iraq.
So, in December, 2001, Cheney and his Cabal began promoting within our intelligence
community and with neo-crazy media sycophants two bits of 'intelligence' recently
provided by "the intelligence service of a foreign government."
One was that Saddam had recently attempted to buy specialized high-strength
aluminum tubes, which Cheney and his Cabal insisted – despite the opinions of
IAEA experts to the contrary – could only be used as rotors in uranium-enrichment
The other was that Iraq had recently arranged to buy up to 500 tons of uranium
oxide – "yellowcake" – from Niger.
After nine months of concerted effort, Cheney and his Cabal managed to get
both these highly controversial bits of "intelligence" incorporated into the
October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq’s WMD capabilities.
We now know that the already discredited Niger yellowcake intelligence was
included only as a footnote, "for
So, in early October, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet asked that a reference
to the alleged purchase of yellowcake by Iraq be removed from a speech
President Bush was to give on Oct. 7.
Guess what happened next.
The "documentation" for the arranged purchase of yellowcake by Iraq from Niger
was delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Rome on Oct. 9.
The next day, Congress approved the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of
United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.
And Bush, Cheney and Condi Rice began referring to the Niger documents as proof
that Saddam Hussein was reconstructing his nuclear weapons program and would
have nukes to give terrorists within a year or less.
So, the Security Council had ElBaradei and his IAEA inspectors go back in and
conduct a total of 218 inspections at 141 sites, including 21 sites designated
by Bush that the IAEA had never inspected before.
Result? On March 7, 2003, ElBaradei told
the Security Council,
"After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence
or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq."
Ten days later, Waxman requested answers from Bush’s National Security Advisor.
Two days after that, Bush invaded Iraq.
Now, Waxman is Committee Chairman and is demanding
answers to his many questions about that use.
On cue, Peter Eisner of the Washington Post trots out a piece
of "investigative journalism" that appears to absolve the White House.
Eisner, who is evidently not much of an investigative reporter, implies that
the Bush-Cheney White House first learned about the Niger documents shortly
after October 9, 2002, when Elisabetta Burba, an investigative reporter for
the Italian newsweekly Panorama, delivered them to the US Embassy in Rome.
But, in 2005, on the eve indictments in the CIA-Plame affair – investigative
reporters Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d'Avanzo posted this blockbuster
1 and part
2) at La Repubblica magazine's Web site.
"The military intervention in Iraq was justified by two revelations: Saddam
Hussein attempted to acquire unprocessed uranium (yellowcake) in Niger for enrichment
with centrifuges built with aluminum tubes imported from Europe. The fabricators
of the twin hoaxes (there was never any trace in Iraq of unprocessed uranium
or centrifuges) were the Italian government and Italian military intelligence.
"They are the same two hoaxes that Judith Miller, the reporter who betrayed
her newspaper, published (together with Michael Gordon) on September 8, 2002."
According to Bonini and D'Avonzo, then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – who
President Bush had asked for any "intelligence" the Italians had that might
indicate Saddam Hussein was reconstructing his nuke programs – sent Nicolo Pollari,
the Italian equivalent of our director of Central Intelligence, to meet with
Stephen Hadley (then-deputy to then-National Security Advisor Condi Rice) in
the White House on Sept. 9, 2002.
Pollari later told the Italian Parliament's intelligence oversight committee
that he told Hadley:
"We had documentary proof of the acquisition by Iraq of uranium ore from
a central African nation. We also know of an Iraqi attempt to purchase centrifuges
for uranium enrichment from German and possibly Italian manufacturers."
The same week that Pollari met with Hadley [Condi’s deputy], Berlusconi caused
an article to be published in Panorama – a magazine Berlusconi owns –
entitled "War With Iraq? It Has Already Begun," wherein the "intelligence"
provided Hadley [Condi’s deputy] is "confirmed."