"And presuming that the forgers were trying to start/justify a war in iraq, there is a downside to having really bad intel in the intel stream - it could be expected to undermine the case for war, because it would tip off intelligence agencies to the fact that people were trying to fraudulently create/justify a war - which ought to have resulted in a heightened level of diligence (and probably a higher bar) regarding any other intel which happened to point in the same direction."
eriposte has a new piece up. First he quotes Gellman from WaPo (Oct05):
The (Rome) station chief "saw they were fakes and threw [Martino] out," the former CIA official said. But Italy shared a similar report with the Americans in October 2001, he said, and the CIA gave it circulation because it did not know the Italians relied on the same source.(emphasis eriposte's)
There is limited reporting to-date which indicates that the CIA was aware of the Niger forgeries around the time they received the SISMI Niger uranium reports in Oct 2001. This doesn't necessarily mean that Langley had copies of the forgeries at the time or that they knew the specific details of names/dates in the forgeries, but it does mean that Langley was aware, at the minimum, that bogus uranium claims associated with Iraq and Niger were circulating in a dossier in Italy. A former CIA official has also confirmed that the CIA would not have given the Italian (SISMI) reports circulation had it known that the Italian claims were based on the forgeries. This observation has significant implications that have not been recognized in most of the reporting on the Niger uranium matter to-date.
The barely reported facts surrounding (a) Rocco Martino's attempt to peddle the Niger forgeries to the CIA station chief in Rome in Fall 2001 and (b) the October 18, 2001, SISMI communique to the CIA trying to put the CIA's concerns about the credibility of the Niger uranium claims to rest, are revealing because they add to the evidence that shows that the CIA harbored significant doubts about the veracity of the Niger uranium claims from day one and tried, repeatedly, to validate those claims through communications with their overseas agents and other foreign intelligence agencies. In doing so, the CIA must have been trying to rule out the possibility that the Niger uranium reporting was ultimately from the same forgeries that Martino tried to shop to the CIA station chief in Rome in 2001.
...but even if Langley did not possess copies of the forgeries at that time, the evidence is clear that they knew enough about their existence and contents even as early as Fall 2001 for them to be skeptical about the Niger uranium reporting from SISMI and elsewhere.