Bush Team on a Busman’s Holiday*

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

2002 was a busy year for the Bush Team….
January 9: Douglas Feith (OOSP) calls Lt. Gen. Jay Garner on the phone….
Feith: Garner, I got a job for you.
Garner: Hello? Who is this?
Feith: Directive from da Man himself
Garner: The president?!
Feith: Rumsfeld, you idiot. Da Man. We need you to put together a team from the other agency to do the planning for postwar Iraq, if there was a war, I mean.
Garner: Which agency? What war?!
Meanwhile, at the State Department……
Colin Powell calls Tom Warrick, a State Department staffer.
Powell: Tom, I want you to head up a new project. I’m calling it The Future of Iraq Project.
Warrick: Um, great. Does this mean we’re going to war, Secretary?
February 19: At a meeting at the CIA, George Tenet, Condi Rice and Colin Powell all agree to send Joseph Wilson to Niger, even though the State Department says the Yellowcake story is bogus.
February 21: Lt. Gen. Garner has 70 to 100 staff on his new team, which includes Tom Warrick from the State Dept.
March 14: Garner briefs President Bush on the team project; Rumsfeld asks him if Tom Warrick is on the team. When Garner says yes, Rumsfeld tells him that he can’t use Warrick “or his work”. Tom Warrick is dismissed.

A memo from Washington lobbyist for the Iraq National Congress, Entifadh Qunbar, is read by a U.S. Senate Committee. It suggests that intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction is going directly to the Vice President via John Hannah (Cheney’s Senior National Security Advisor) and Bill Luti (OOSP). They are the only two people authorized to receive the intelligence reports.
August: WHIG (White House Iraq Group) is founded by Andrew Card to “market the Iraq war”; members of the group include Karl Rove, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, and a few other insiders.
August 1: President Bush goes on vacation
August 26: Dick Cheney, in a speech to a convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars says we now know Hussein has nuclear weapons capability.
Labor Day: “Rollout” of new White House product: Iraq war (“From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August,” Andrew Card.) Bush vacation over.
September 8: Condoleezza Rice on CNN: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
September 9: Stephen Hadley (WHIG member) meets with Nicolo Pollari, Chief of Italian Intelligence agency (SISMI)

September 26:
Colin Powell, in closed testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says “reports” of yellowcake acquisition by Iraq are “further proof” of Iraq having nuclear weapons capability. British “white paper” on Iraq nuclear weapons program comes out and says Iraq “had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” CIA tells the Brits to drop that claim. The Brits say it’s from a different source. Condoleeza Rice is briefed on the British report.
October: The Office of Special Plans (D. Feith operation) inserts a reference to the British “white paper” into the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which President Bush reads. The CIA insists on a footnote in the NIE stating that there are “different interpretations” of the yellowcake claims and that the State Department thinks the claims are “highly dubious.”
October 16: The Yellowcake Papers (direct from Italy via Pollari) are distributed by the State Department. President Bush makes a speech in Cincinnati, saying “We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
December 19: The U.S. State Department accuses Niger of traffic in uranium. They put out a Fact Sheet that says Iraq is hiding efforts to procure uranium from Niger. The IAEA (Internatl. Atomic Energy Agency) reads the Fact Sheet and asks to see the proof.

They are still waiting…..

*busman’s holiday: from “buzz man’s holiday,” the word came from the common practice of two pickpockets working as a team, one of whom would “buzz the mark,” or engage the victim in conversation, while the other picked his pocket.

Yellowcake Shake and Bake

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

As the NY Times finally gets its ass in gear and finds some reporters who aren’t owned by their sources to get on the Yellowcake Papers story…we continue with our little tale of aging spies, Italians in love, and the Bush administration’s Alternative Reality Operations (AROs).
The Story, Part II: Recipe for a W-r (classified)
In which the Yellowcake Papers, lovingly forged and pasted together by our dapper Italian International Man of Mystery, Rocco Martino, and which have proved to be exceptional money-makers for a man in the waning years of a distinguished and lucrative career, are now floating free as balloons escaped from a toddler’s hand, landing here and there in the capitols of Europe and of the Great Empire of Evi…er Enterprise, the white and gold City of Washington, District of Columbia, that legendary district of the land of Camelot from the Age of The Kennedys.
The Players:
Nicolò Pollari, head of SISMI (Italian Intelligence agency)
Michael A. Ledeen, Freedom Scholar , war monger and Renaissance Man
Lawrence Anthony “Larry” Franklin, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst working for Douglas Feith and Bill Luti in Paul Wolfowitz’s Office of Special Plans (OOSP) in late 2001; former attaché at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and an Air Force Reserve colonel; arrested by the FBI May 4, 2005 for passing classified information
Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America (still) and former Secretary of Defense in the Bush I administration; chief executive officer of Halliburton (1995-2000) which got a no-bid contract for Iraq military operations approved by Douglas Feith in March 2003
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Chief of Staff (Cheney) and Assistant to the President (Bush), Cheney’s Cheney, and”Deputy Vice President
In late October of 2001, after returning to Rome, Col. Nicolò Pollari receives a phone call from Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino (no relation to Rocco) who tells him to expect a visit soon from “a friend of Italy”….
Pollari: “Pollari here. Oh, Minister. Uh huh. Uh huh. Huh. Yes, Minister. Got it.”
Scene I: An espresso bar in Rome, late October 2001….
Pollari: “Well if it isn’t the Renaissance Man himself. I thought your ass was grass around here. Who let you in?”
Ledeen: “Funny Nicky. I want you to meet my associate, Larry Franklin. He’s our man in the Pentagon. Very in (he winks at Larry). Larry, Nicky. Nicky, Larry. So. We hear there’s some sweet intell on yellowcake. The Big Guys are peeing their pants for this stuff Nicky. We need it. Now. And it better be good.”
Pollari: “Look Ledeen. It’s scrag. You don’t want it. It’s a bum product by some rogue operator. It’s not our brand.”
Ledeen: “Relax, Nicky. We won’t expose you. It’s gonna stay deep. We just want a clean copy, right Larry? Somthing to take home to the family.”
Pollari: “Ok Ledeen. But you’ve got to get me in with the Big Guys. My boss wants a good connection. Somebody who is discrete and can manipulate the intell in the right way. It’s gotta be good for Mr. B.”
Three months later:
Scene II: Cheney’s office bathroom where he is smoking a forbidden cigar with the door open….
Cheney : “Scooter Pie!! Get Tenet on the horn. I want one of his guys to check out that two-bit trading post in Africa and get the goods on this uranus ore thing!”
Libby: “Sure thing boss. I’ll have George get right on it.”
Thanks To:
corrente wire
Think Progress
Christian Science Monitor
European Tribune
Next: The Bush administration goes on A Busman’s Holiday

Yellowcake Goes to America

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

To continue the story of how an aging Italian spy called Rocco, for purposes all his own and not related to Dick Cheney’s need to find the goods on Saddam Hussein in order to justify a war on Iraq, concocted a phony “dossier,” also known as The Niger Papers (or Yellowcake as I like to call them), and peddled them around Europe….we come now to the part where the sham documents are delivered to the desk(s) of one or more officials of the Bush administration in Washington, D.C. in October 2001.
The Story, Part II: The Berlusconi-Bush Affair
The Players:
Nicolò Pollari, head of SISMI (Italian Intelligence agency)
Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, media magnate who owns the weekly, Panorama, (and most of Italy’s media industry) which was offered Rocco’s fake Niger dossier
Greg Thielmann, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research; assigned by Colin Powell to John Bolton at the Pentagon in 2001
Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense (until March 2005) and now President of the World Bank
Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (Bush appointee, July 2001 to August 2005)
George W. Bush, President of the United States of America (still)
It is October 2001, only a shudder past the events of September 11, and Nicolò Pollari, newly installed director of SISMI, Italy’s CIA-equivalent, is anxious to please his boss. Pollari’s boss, Silvio Berlusconi, wants to do something nice for his good friend President Bush. In fact, Berlusconi is hot to really impress Bush with something that only Italy can deliver–evidence that Iraq is buying large quanities of uranium oxide (yellowcake) from Niger.
Pollari packs his suitcase and travels with Berlusconi to Washington with the Yellowcake Papers in (metaphorical) hand. He meets with CIA officers but the welcome is less than he expected. In fact, the spooks in Washington are very skeptical of his “gift” of intelligence.
Following up on Pollari, the CIA checks in with the U.S. embassy in Niger and asks the French-run consortium in charge of the two uranium mines there whether yellowcake had been going to Iraq. The French contacts say no. There is no possibility yellowcake was being diverted from Niger to Iraq (see Russ Hoyle’s story below). As well, Greg Thielmann, Colin Powell’s State Department staffer at the Pentagon, who has seen the report from Pollari, thinks the Yellowcake Papers are “highly suspect.” He will later tell the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that the intelligence collected in Rome is inconsistent, that the uranium story is phony and that a bunch of things contained in the report are fabricated.
Skepticism from the State Department and the CIA notwithstanding, the Yellowcake Papers have now begun their life as deep cover propaganda for the now-we-know-it-was-inevitable War on Iraq. But how?
Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith is how, for one. At a Department of Defense (DoD) briefing on June 4, 2003, Douglas Feith (accompanied by William J. “Bill” Luti–who will have his stage entrance a bit later in this story) tells reporters that his “team” at DoD “…began its work October of 2001…”. This team was to review intelligence from the CIA and “help digest it” for Feith and “other policy makers, to help us develop Defense Department strategy for the war on terrorism.” What was the work that Feith’s team began in October of 2001? The “work” was the creation of the Office of Special Plans (OOSP), founded by Paul Wolfowitz, at the Pentagon.
If the CIA and Colin Powell’s State Department were looking a gift horse in the mouth, the Office of Special Plans and it’s cabal of two saw an opportunity to build a Trojan Horse–packed with yellowcake-to be delivered to the American people. It will be almost a year and a half before that horse is trotted out but within months Joseph Wilson will be sent to Niger to investigate the Yellowcake Papers for the CIA.
But the story of yellowcake coming to America is also a love story. In October 2001 the Bush-Berlusconi Affair blossoms. Here’s a snippet of love talk from their October 15, 2001 press conference together:
Bush: It’s my honor to welcome the leader of one of our nation’s best friends, the Prime Minister of a country that has had so much to do with our nation and its development. I’m also pleased to be able to give him a lunch — after all, I had one of the best lunches I’ve had since I’ve been the President because of the Prime Minister. …I’m pleased that we’re sharing intelligence. I’m pleased that the Prime Minister understands that al Qaeda has cells all around the world and he’s more than willing to work with us to disrupt those cells, to bring people to justice.
Berlusconi: Thank you, Mr. President, I am here, first of all, to express our great pain and sadness for the attack on September the 11th and to say to you if the same attack had been — had occurred on an Italian city we would have felt the same pain as you are.And also I’m here to express to you our desire to be as close as possible and to provide both moral and material support.
The Evidence:
Russ Hoyle on yellowcake (via the Joseph Wilson website) http://www.politicsoftruth.com/
Russ Hoyle’s book excerpt (pdf):
DoD briefing
More on OOSP
Seymour Hersh
[The New Yorker, October 21, 2003]
Next: Yellowcake Shake and Bake

Rocco and the Rome connection

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

The U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee inquiry may be going nowhere but thankfully we have the Italian Parliament to help us in our journey to enlightenment in the Yellowcake! story. And I have Nur-al-Cubicle to thank for providing a lucid summary of La Repubblica‘s reportage on the government investigation of “The Niger Documents”.
The Story, Part I: Rocco Goes to Rome
The Setting: New Year’s Day 2001, the Niger Embassy, Rome
The Players:
Rocco Martino, a “retired” Italian spy and double-agent for France in need of cash
Antonio (Tony) Nucera, a SISMI (Italian Military Intelligence) division chief and friend of Martino
La Signora, an aging contract spy in the Niger embassy in Rome in need of cash
Yaou (Adam) Maiga Zakaria, First Embassy Counselor for Niger (Rome) in need of cash
(the following scene is imagined but the outcome is fact):
Nucero (on his cell): “Rocco. It’s Tony. The company documents are in the mail, the numbers and the telex. You got the key contact. You’re set to go. Ciao buddy.”
An espreso stand somewhere in Rome:
Rocco: “Look Doll. I’ve told you, this isn’t a home operation. Tony’s just helping me out. You’ve got the dough. Now we need somebody on the inside to get us in. Tonight.
La Signora (whispering): “Ok Rocco but I need another thousand for Adam. He’s in but he’s got an obligation to take care of right away.”
Rocco: “Merda woman, I’m not the CIA! Ok. Another thou. When is the shop closing?”
La Signora (melifluously): “Be there at 7. It will be dark by then and Adam can let you in. Have the cash with you.”
Later that evening at the Niger Embassy:
Rocco: “Adam, I want some sheets of official letterhead and the seal stamp.”
Zakaria: “No problem. Don’t you want to mess the place up a little?”
The next morning, January 2, an official at the Niger embassy notifies the police of a break-in although he can’t say what, exactly, was stolen. Rocco goes back to his apartment in Luxemburg with the stolen letterhead and official stamp and puts together a package of documents. The package contains both the real Niger documents from the late 1980s that his friend Nucero supplied him with, and the fake documents that Rocco created. The fake papers, dated July 5 and 6, 2000, are designed to solve a mystery for the French intelligence agents–they want to know who has been purloining uranium ore from a couple of inactive mines in their former colony, Niger. The papers document a deal between the Niger government and Saddam Hussein to supply Iraq with 500 tons of pure uranium oxide (yellowcake) per year–a main ingredient for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
The French agents immediately recognize the documents are fakes (among other things, the official names are the wrong ones for the time period, and Niger uranium mines are incapable of producing anywhere near 500 tons of yellowcake in a year) and dispose of them. Rocco, however, decides to try and re-sell the Niger documents and contacts a reporter at Panorama, the Italian newspaper owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The Panorama reporter, Elisabetta Burba, declines the offer from Martino (for a suggested $10k) and does not write about the incident. What happens next is murky. Either Burba’s Editor in Chief, Carlo Rosella, passes the bogus documents on to the U.S. Embassy in Rome or he does not. Either Rocco Martino himself gives (sells?) the fake documents to MI6 in London or he does not. Either SISMI, in person of new Director, Niccolò Pollari, passes the fake information on to the CIA or he does not. We only know for sure that the fake dossier purporting to show that Saddam Hussein was importing significant quantities of weapons-grade uranium ore from Niger, lands on the desk of U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research official, Greg Thielmann, in the fall of 2001. At about the same time, the phony dossier also is received by British Intelligence in London.
This is the story as many have told it. There are also stories, or speculations about other possible “authors” of the fake yellowcake papers, for instance, Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan National Security Counsel consultant, or ex-CIA officers Duane Claridge and Alan Wolf (deceased) working for or in collaboration with Ledeen. The only certainty, however, is that the Iraq-Niger yellowcake papers are a hoax, a scam, fake, phony, bogus and a lie. But the yellowcake hoax will not die. In fact, it soon begins a new life in the Bush administration’s busy “policy” backrooms.
The Documents: http://cryptome.org/niger-docs.htm
Take your own Yellowcake journey:
Seymour Hersh
[The New Yorker, October 21, 2003]
Talking Points Memo
Martin Walker at UPI
Part II: Yellowcake Goes to America

Yellowcake!: a journey back from ignorance

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

Hey, the Democrats are finally getting mad about something! (Harry Reid shut down Senate business today saying, “… this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions…”) I feel for them. I’m just working up a head of steam myself. Too late, unfortunately. We’ve already all been duped. Some of us (approximately 2025 and counting) are dead. A whole lot more Iraqis are dead. It was just last week, I think, that I noticed an old bumper sticker while driving to the Bowl (Berkeley Bowl – radical vegetables, brutal parking): “If you aren’t outraged you’re not paying attention.” I sneered to myself, “that’s so Berkeley,” facing off with a Lexus for the only remaining parking space. I bought my vegetables and drove smugly back home to Oakland.
And then I heard Patrick Fitzgerald on the radio, taking questions after announcing his indictment of the Vice President’s Chief of Staff (and Assistant to the President) I. Lewis Libby for lying to a grand jury: “You’re asking, do these charges vindicate a serious breach of the public trust? And Fitzgerald sounded like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
The more I listened, the more I realized how little I really knew about what the heck was going on:Judith MIller goes to jail for the great cause and then it’s not such a great cause; Valerie Plame or Flame or Wilson is or is not a CIA agent, soccer mom, wife; there were or were not Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq that Joseph Wilson, husband or not of Valerie Plame/Flame Wilson was railing about in a newspaper and got Dick Cheney mad at him and perpetrated (or didn’t) the “Plame (or Flame or Wilson) Leak” for which I. (Scooter, which is or is not his real or baby name) Lewis Libby was indicted. Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera (quoting from The King and I).
Two days later on Sunday, Halloween eve (which itself is the eve of All Soul’s Day, the one day of the year when the veil of illusion between the living and the dead is momentarily lifted and ghosts and spirits are free to roam) I embarked on an obsessive Google-hunt to educate myself as to the origins of the Plame Leak Affair and everything and everyone associated with it. I mean everything I could dig up. It was my own personal search for truth in the muck of Washington war politics. I call this journey Yellowcake! because that is my new word for every lie that ever came out of a Washington official’s mouth in the service of a secret agenda. Yellowcake! It’s a lie.
Next: All Lies Lead to (or at least pass through) Rome