Reading the New York Times is increasingly like reading a publication of the former Soviet Union. It's not so much that any single statement is false, but that half the facts are missing and what there is serves to mislead. So it is with Sciolino and Povoledo's
piece on the Niger uranium forgeries and how they ended up in the State of the Union.
Here's the basic facts as presented by The Times:
1. The Niger forgeries arrived at SISMI via "occasional spy named Rocco Martino"
2. The FBI has spent two years investigating the forgeries and has now terminated the investigation, apparently concluding that the forgeries were made for personal profit.
3. Italian Senator Brutti says SISMI warned the US the documents were fake well before the war and possibly before the State of the Union.
4. US intelligence had long been aware of the existence of the information contained in the forgeries and was so skeptical that references to it were deleted from Administration speeches.
5. La Repubblica has said that SISMI head Polari met with Stephen Hadley on Sept. 9th 2002. The NYT quotes Hadley as saying: "Nobody participating in that meeting or asked about that meeting has any recollection of a discussion of natural uranium, or any recollection of any documents being passed... And that's also my recollection."
6. France refuses to confirm or deny that Martino was a French agent.
I see this as an elaborate piece of disinformation, probably constructed at the editorial level (Josh Marshall nevertheless expertly extracts information from the "nuggets," as he chooses to characterize them
Marshall has demolished Hadley's statement. No one said that documents were passed at the meeting. And the uranium involved was not raw ore, but processed ore known as yellowcake. Only a professional liar could come up with such a very careful construction, and only the New York Times could have failed to note the fundamental dishonesty of it.
But there's much more about this article that smells. First of all, why has the FBI not released an official statement? Searching the FBI website for "uranium" or "Niger" is an exercise in disappointment. A report that should be headlined is not.
The French connection in this case is a red herring. Martino has been reliably reported
to have been selling information to the French. He has been unreliably reported (one word: Torygraph) to "in the pay of France." Such people are in the pay of anyone willing to spend the money and Martino had been a full-time SISMI employee. As Josh Marshall has repeatedly pointed out, Martino traveled to the US but seems not to have been interviewed by the FBI. This is a very strong signal that his primary employer was a US government agency.
If ya know what I mean.
When, exactly, by whom and to whom were warnings that the Niger documents were fake delivered to the US government? These basic facts are routinely omitted from reporting, turning it into a mash of nonsense. As indicated by point #4 above, we have very good reason to believe that warnings were delivered to the CIA-- and were registered by it at the very highest levels-- in the summer/fall of 2002, even before Congress began to debate the issue of war/
Articles like this make one wonder whether The New York Times is not, like Rocco Martino, in the pay of an intelligence agency. Like maybe the one headed by Stephen Hadley.