Thursday, June 15, 2006

who forged the Niger documents, and why?

david corn on amy goodman (link)
AMY GOODMAN: David Corn, Craig Unger in Vanity Fair reports that the Italian secret service likely concocted the Saddam-Niger forgery to bolster Bush's case for war, and the article raises questions about the involvement of a prominent White House-connected neocon, Michael Ledeen, in a black ops operation.

DAVID CORN: You know, I'm going to disappoint you a little bit here. I read that piece. I didn't find it absolutely compelling. The problem with trying to spin a conspiracy -- I don't mean that in a negative sense -- but talking about a plot surrounding the Niger documents, or that they are so badly and amateurishly forged that it took literally the IAEA investigator in charge of Iraq 15 minutes to prove that they were forged. It gets me thinking that any intelligence agency that wanted to sort of do this right would have done a better job. And so if you want to -- claim that these -- that there's a diabolical cabal out there trying to set the path to war, then you have to argue that they're also not very bright in how they were doing this and that they had to know that either the forgeries were so lousy, so lousy that somehow it would fool the CIA, while actually when they came in, State Department analysts looked at it and immediately concluded they were bad.

So that's Craig's piece -- and I, you know, I respect his work -- doesn't take that into account so I don't find it, right now, compelling. I mean, the key thing is -- even you know, the Niger charge was used by the White House, but they were using the aluminum tubes, they were using the trailers. You know, they had a whole Chinese menu of charges which now -- I mean, it's kind of stunning if you just take a step back and think about it -- everything they said was wrong. Everything that Colin Powell -- not like just most of it, but everything he said about weapons of mass destruction at the U.N. In February of 2003 was absolutely wrong. Charles Duelfer's final report said that Iraq had no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons program after either 1991 to 1996. Nothing, so there was no need even for yellow cake, so all the debate about that is moot and pointless.

So, I don't think we need to go looking for black ops and other parts. What -- how Dick Cheney and George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice and Colin Powell, how they mischaracterized and pushed the intelligence to suit their policy ends, which has been written about now by people within the CIA, to me that's enough of a controversy to keep all of us happy or outraged.
he sounds a lot like me. (actually, i recommend listening to him - the text doesn't quite capture his exasperation - particularly when he says "everything they said was wrong").

Still, the question remains, who forged the documents, and why?

(I think i promised to drop this topic. oops. can i claim that i'm just riffing of Corn?)


Scott Horton said...

The Vanity Fair article addressed the louseyness of the forgeries as a deniability issue. Still maybe or not I suppose, but why's he got to change the subject so fast like that?


lukery said...

scott! nice to see you!

yeah - i think corn is a bit chumpy.

that aside, Unger says: "And you build in subtle, nuanced errors so you can say, 'We would never misspell that.' If it's very cleverly done, it's a chess game, not checkers.""

i'd argue that the errors in the niger forgeries were neither subtle, nor nuanced. the problem i have with the 'plausible deniability' argument is that the flipside is that there's 'plausible acceptibility' - and by all accounts there wasnt even the hint of acceptibility in these documents.