Rome to Yellowcake to a Grand Jury: How Did We Get Here?

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forged niger documents

The forged intelligence documents, available in their entirety at Cryptome [Cryptome]

We saw, in the last week, the re-emergence of the Rome connection: La Repubblica wrote a lengthy report two days ago on the provenance of the Niger forgeries, that is, the documents that originally led the UK and the US to believe that Iraq was seeking to purchase yellowcake uranium.

Details? Perhaps the best thing the White House had going for it as it made the case for war was the sheer complexity of both the available evidence and the way government works. So as we all wait to discover — tomorrow? — what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been planning, we’re taking a look at what this means and how we got here. This is not a story about leaks; a leak, from any party, is just an expression of intent. If the offices of the President and the Vice President did indeed leak information, why did they do it?

The answers are leading us — as Fitzgerald’s investigation is leading him — to Rome. A special prosecutor’s inquiry into a leak has become a John le Carre novel: reporters have uncovered a freelance intelligence salesman named Rocco. It’s complicated and it’s all still alleged and pieces of it — if true — are truly ugly.

What it comes down to is this: the Bush administration built its case for war chiefly on the idea of a nuclear threat. If it turns out that any of this evidence was creatively assembled — and the media is converging on Rome right now to figure it out — the political fallout will be vastly more brutal than the simple indictment of a member of the White House staff.

Extra Credit Reading
Talking Points Memo, particularly here and here.

Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Bush’s “16 Words” on Iraq & Uranium: He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn’t Lying

La Repubblica on the provenance of the Niger forgeries, translation parts I, II and III (thanks Andy Thompson)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, 2002-2005 The White House Cabal

Lawrence O’Donnell

Author, analyst, former Hill senior staffer, producer and writer for “The West Wing”

O’Donnell on Rove and Plamegate in the Huffington Post in July

Jonathan Landay

National Security Correspondent, Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau

With Warren Strobel, winner of the Raymond Clapper Memorial Award from the Washington Press Club for coverage of the Bush administration’s use of intelligence before the war

October 17 Open Source Interview, including list of pre-war headlines

(Jon Garfunkel wanted Landay to come on the show so badly that he wrote us a poem.)

Laura Rozen

Blogger, War and Piece

Freelance contributor, American Prospect

Author, La Repupplica’s Scoop, Confirmed

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  • Andy

    Translation of the la Repubblica series available here.

  • loki

    Judith Miller is the multi-valient-free-lance leaker. Scooter and Rove do not know their putter from their elbow.

  • loki

    I grew up in Dorchester with Larry O’Donnell at St. Brendan’s.

  • samrmadden

    i can’t see the documents


  • samrmadden


  • Griflet

    I seems to me that the WMD issue and the need to invade Iraq came up shortly after the Enron revelations surfaced. Thay had been dominating the headlines until the WMD issue was put forward. The media all but dropped Enron for a long time. I’m sure the neocons wanted to invade Iraq all along but Enron may have made it imparitive for those in the idministration who had resisted to go along.

  • bloggeddown

    Larry, what is the sidetrack with the Pakistani N-Bomb all about?

    Sounds like more blame Clinton to me.

    What of the the “hundreds of tons of anthrax”, the mobile labs, the missiles ready to launch in 45 mintues .. are these are Clinton’s fault too?

  • bloggeddown this admin evil? .. or just incompetent?

    Does it make a difference to those who are dead, those with missing limbs, shattered lives?

    Can the families of our dead and wounded get a sense of relief that “Bush wasn’t evil, he was just incompetent” – does that make any difference?

    Does it matter if it’s ‘evil’ or ‘incompetent’?

  • bft

    Another precursor of 9.11: James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon”. No explosions, but a foreigner with a long-term plan in an American flight school…no Muslims, but Nestorian Christians…

  • Excellent show, just listened to it, thanks for pulling it together. This was one of the most informative shows to date– all three guests were quite knowledgeable about what was known when.

    For the record, a few other people lobbied to get Landay on– not just my little poem!

  • loyallistener

    Wow…. you can pack more substance, debate and humanity into an hour of radio/broadcast [and with audio allure!] than anyone I’ve ever heard. Amazzzzing Mr. Lydon and friends.

  • Potter

    It’s somewhat satisfying to see the oh so slow wheels of justice turning trying to get us out of some mud but it’s hardly enough. There’s a lot of jumping up and down and excitement about Fitzmas and plenty of detail to keep minds busy. But there is still an elephant in the room and many of us know it and fear this may be all we get.

    Most disturbing, as mentioned, is how we have been denied the independent and Senate investigations promised into the use or misuse of intelligence by Bush, Cheney and advisors to fit the policy to go to war. By the time we get around to impeachment hearings, if we do, this term of office will be up. But the truth will and has to come out sooner or later. At the very least, we have to make sure that neoconism is absolutely dead.

    Rove, if indicted and even judged guilty, will still be giving advice to Bush- by telephone from a jail cell. And Libby will fall on his sword to protect Cheney.

    This was a good show, and a great post-game analysis by Chris. I agree with John le Carre more now than ever.

    PS- Listening to an NPR show on the other station yesterday morning- interviews with families of those soldiers who have died.- it hurt to hear grieving families on the need to go to war in Iraq so that we would not have to fight here, that this “war on terrorism” was our necessary response to 9/11. Another complaint is that we are not hearing the good news. The example given: when a school was blown up by insurgents we did not hear that it was our soldiers that built that school. But I was thinking yes but- the net result was zero.( or minus.)

  • LeeJudt

    Someone just said that you can’t create democracy at the point of a gun.

    What do they call the American Revolution?

    There are other places in the world where democracy was created by revolution which is to say at the point of a gun.

  • LeeJudt

    btw: didn’t the allies bring democracy to Germany and Italy at the point of a gun?

  • LeeJudt

    The above comments were posted in error.

    They belong on the Wilsonian program blog.