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The source of the Niger uranium document forgery revealed!

by Paul C / September 23, 2004 11:38 AM PDT

Why am I not surprised to learn that it's apparently the Direction General de Securite D'Exterieur - the French secret foreign intelligence service?

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, "Giacomo".

His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq...

"After being exposed in the international press, French intelligence can hardly be amused or happy with him," one western diplomat said. "Martino may have thought the safest thing was to hand himself over to the Italians." Investigators in Rome suspect that Mr Martino was first engaged by the French secret services five years ago, when he was asked to investigate rumours of illicit trafficking in uranium from Niger. He is thought to have then been retained the following year to collect more information. It was then that he is suspected of having assembled a dossier containing both real and bogus documents from Niger, the latter apparently forged by a diplomat.
(Want to bet that the diplomat happens to be French? pfc)

In September 2002 Tony Blair accused Saddam of seeking "significant quantities" of uranium from an undisclosed African country - in fact, Niger. US President George W Bush made a similar claim in his State of the Union address to Congress four months later, using information supplied by MI6.


Now, wouldn't it have been easier - although not as deniable - had Monsieur le President Chirac simply put his cards on the table in public instead of playing these silly games? And how much help - or sympathy - do you think that France will get if some in the ever more radicalized Islamic population of France decide that a Gallic 9/11 seems like a good idea?

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Unless France converts to Islam, they'll be on the list, but
by Kiddpeat / September 23, 2004 12:13 PM PDT

the terrorists may find them useful for now.

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Re: Unless France converts to Islam, they'll be on the list,
by dirtyrich / September 23, 2004 1:17 PM PDT

Wouldn't be surprised at the amount of French businesses that have ties to certain people of dubious distinction in the Middle East.
They won't attack them simply because that would force the French government to crack down on the busniesses, and France's police are significantly less restricted in what they can do than we are.

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Wouldn't it have been wiser if...
by James Denison / September 23, 2004 3:03 PM PDT

...the intelligence information the USA depended on for making war was first hand and not second, third, or in this case fourth hand "intelligence". Part of the job in gathering intelligence is grading the source and having some idea of how many channels it went through before it was received. That would have been the job of those briefing the president, through whichever intelligence community supplied that information.

This does not exonerate our intelligence community, but rather makes it look even more incompetent.

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