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Oops, that evidence was fake
Posted: Monday, March 17, 2003

By Firas Al-Atraqchi,

During his State of the Union address on January 28th, U.S. President George Bush told the world that Iraq was importing uranium for a nuclear weapons program from Africa. He was quoting a report that British intelligence had passed on to the CIA and finally released to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The report allegedly cited documents proving that the African nation of Niger was secretly shipping 500 tons of uranium to Iraq.

The following day, Iraqi officials cried foul saying no such deal had ever existed with Niger and that they had scrapped their nuclear ambitions in the mid-1990s.

North American media scoffed at "Iraqi propaganda"; after all, we are reminded day in and day out that the Iraqis are pugnacious liars.

They lied about UNSCOM, (UNMOVIC's predecessor) when they claimed it was run by a web of spies working for the CIA and the Israeli Mossad.

Sure, they lied about that until the U.N. finally admitted that spies had taken over UNSCOM operations in Iraq:

"Although the accusations were denied at the time, the involvement of at least the CIA was later confirmed by the U.N., by the U.S. administration and by former weapons inspectors.

"A spokesman for the new weapons team, Unmovic (U.N. monitoring, verification and inspections commission), said yesterday that Mr. Blix has taken significant steps to try to avoid any repetition of the spying by changing the make-up of the team as well as its finances." (Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor for The Guardian -- Monday November 11, 2002)

Not only was UNSCOM spying for Iraq's most bitter enemies, but it had also set up monitoring devices to track Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's movements for a likely missile strike type assassination bid.

Operation Desert Fox, which came on the heels of UNSCOM's hasty withdrawal from Iraq in December 1998, actually targeted the security apparatus and convoys directly responsible for guarding Saddam in the hopes that he may be killed in one such strike.

It failed. Had it succeeded, there would not have been a need for an invasion of Iraq today.

Nevertheless, it seems that the Iraqis don't lie about everything; this time around, Iraqi allegations turned out to be true.

And Iraqi allegations that the Niger uranium plot was fabricated also turned out to be true.

IAEA chief Mohammed AlBaradei last week told the U.N. Security Council that the information his team received from the CIA concerning Niger was "completely unfounded." A fake, a forgery, an outright lie.

A Voice of America News broadcast said Thursday, "the Washington Post newspaper reported the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into whether the documents had been falsified by a foreign government to boost support for a war with Iraq. The newspaper reported it did not learn what country had supplied the documents."

CNN national security expert David Ensor told Paula Zahn on American Morning (March 14, 2003) that U.S. officials said they had received the falsified reports from the British, who in turn said they had received it from an undisclosed country.

Apparently, signatures were forged, and a document citing a deal between Iraq and a minister of Niger in 1980 turned out to be untrue as the same said minister had not even been appointed to the government yet.

Ensor concluded that the falsification was completely botched up. "If the U.S. was behind it," he said, "they would have done a much better job."

If so, the question remains: how could the CIA have missed detecting the forgeries and falsification?

According to the Guardian, "The fabrication was transparently obvious and quickly established, the sources added, suggesting that British intelligence was either easily hoodwinked or a knowing party to the deceit."

British intelligence was certainly a knowing party to the deceit concerning the dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"Large parts of the British Government's latest dossier on Iraq -- which allegedly draws on "intelligence material" -- were plagiarized from published academic articles, it has emerged," said Australia's The Age newspaper on February 8.

"Much of a British dossier that Secretary of State Colin Powell cited before the U.N. Security Council Wednesday to outline what he called Iraq's deceptions was actually the work of a graduate student in California -- not that of intelligence operatives in Iraq -- an embarrassed British government said Friday," said Newsday on February 8.

Apparently, Iraq is not the only player in games of deception.

[Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.]

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