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official Philip Giraldi; and Vincent Cannistraro, the former chief of operations of the C. “They were just relentless,” says Wilkerson, who later prepared Colin Powell’s presentation before the United Nations General Assembly. “Your first goal is to make sure it doesn’t find its way back to you, so you do several things. In addition, has found at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union in which analysts at the C. A., the State Department, or other government agencies who had examined the Niger documents or reports about them raised serious doubts about their legitimacy—only to be rebuffed by Bush-administration officials who wanted to use the material. What followed was not just the catastrophic foreign-policy blunder in Iraq but also an ongoing battle for the future of U. “In the world of fabrication, you don’t just drop something and let someone pick it up,” says Bearden.In 1981 the Italian Parliament banned Propaganda Due, and all secret organizations in Italy, after an investigation concluded that it had infiltrated the highest levels of Italy’s judiciary, parliament, military, and press, and was tied to assassinations, kidnappings, and arms deals around the world.But before it was banned, P-2 members and their allies participated in two ideologically driven international black-propaganda schemes that foreshadowed the Niger Embassy job 20 years later. The end result of their collaboration was a widely publicized story that helped Ronald Reagan unseat President Jimmy Carter, whom they considered too timid in his approach to winning the Cold War.The first took place in 1980, when Francesco Pazienza, a charming and sophisticated Propaganda Due operative at the highest levels of SISMI, allegedly teamed up with an American named Michael Ledeen, a Rome correspondent for Pazienza said he first met Ledeen that summer, through a SISMI agent in New York who was working under the cover of a U. The target was Carter’s younger brother, Billy, a hard-drinking “good ol’ boy” from Georgia who repeatedly embarrassed his sibling in the White House.It began after Billy mortified the president in 1979 by going to Tripoli at a time when Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, was reviled as a radical Arab dictator who supported terrorism.
Information from the dossier and, later, the papers themselves made their way from Italian intelligence to, at various times, the C. Bush told the world, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”Two months later, the United States invaded Iraq, starting a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and has irrevocably de-stabilized the strategically vital Middle East. “This wasn’t an accident,” says Milt Bearden, a 30-year C. “This wasn’t 15 monkeys in a room with typewriters.”In recent months, it has emerged that the forged Niger documents went through the hands of the Italian military intelligence service, SISMI (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare), or operatives close to it, and that neoconservative policymakers helped bring them to the attention of the White House. and the State Department, hawkish neocons managed to circumvent seasoned intelligence analysts and insert the Niger claims into Bush’s State of the Union address. “In addition to the secret service, SISMI, there was another, informal, parallel secret service,” Moltedo says.
Nevertheless, the consequences of the robbery were so great that the Watergate break-in pales by comparison. It is forbidden.“A Classic Psy-Ops Campaign”For more than two years it has been widely reported that the U. I.6 intelligence service, and thousands of outlets in the American media to promote the falsehood that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program posed a grave risk to the United States. Some of them refer to the Niger documents as “a disinformation operation,” others as “black propaganda,” “black ops,” or “a classic psy-ops [psychological-operations] campaign.” But whatever term they use, at least nine of these officials believe that the Niger documents were part of a covert operation to deliberately mislead the American public. “It serves no other purpose.”By and large, knowledgeable government officials in the U. Official government investigations in Italy, the U. S.—including a two-year probe into pre-war intelligence failures by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—have been so highly politicized as to be completely unsatisfying. agent Valerie Plame, after Wilson revealed that the Niger story was false. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, has already been charged in the case, and President Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove, has been Fitzgerald’s other principal target. Accordingly, one can’t probe Nigergate without examining the rich tapestry of intrigue that is Italian intelligence.