When the full history of bogus WMD propaganda is written, a few individuals and agencies in our government will stand out for having tried to be rational voices during the administration’s juggernaut PR campaign to invade Iraq. Among these is the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) in the State Department.
The whole Niger story, that Iraq tried to buy tons of unenriched uranium, called yellowcake, from the African nation of Niger, displays the chasm between genuine analysts on one side and weird administration war boosters on the other. This story, which birthed the famous 16 words in a State of the Union speech, led to former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger, his subsequent criticisms of the administration, pundit Robert Novak’s outing Wilson’s wife as a CIA operative, at least two investigations into the leak --- with Novak and George W. Bush among those hiring attorneys – and the current trial of Lewis Libby, Vice President’s former Chief of Staff.
The Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq is 521 pages online (http://intelligence.senate.gov/iraqreport2.pdf; link down). Part II, on Niger, is pages 36-83. Numbers in parentheses, below, are the pages cited.
“Reporting on a possible yellowcake sales agreement between Niger and Iraq first came to the attention of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) on October 15, 2001,” when the CIA Directorate of Operations (DO) passed along a report from a “foreign government service indicating that Niger planned to ship several tons of uranium to Iraq.” At the time, all IC analysts regarded this forwarded cable to be limited and lacking in detail. The CIA, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and Department of Energy (DOE) called it “possible.” The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) regarded it as “highly suspect.” (36) The INR turned out to be right...