Niger Yellowcake and The Man Who Forged Too Much
by Pen [Subscribe]
Fri Jul 22nd, 2005 at 06:56:03 CDT
They say all roads lead to Rome. Well, this one certainly does. It's a road that starts in Paris, at the door of Iranian arms dealer and Mossad double agent Manucher Ghorbanifar, a man known to the CIA as an "intelligence fabricator". It's a road that runs through Niger uranium mines, past a Genoan fascist organization operating as a parallel Italian intelligence network with ties to Rocco Martino, and down the streets of Milan, where a CIA operative, now considered a fugitive at large by Italian authorities, once operated.
Ultimately, however, it is a road that does not end in Rome. It runs past that ancient icon of Imperial corruption and leads us to Washington D.C., past a Federal Investigation into Israeli espionage and right up to the steps of the White House and Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans.
All signs along this road point to the answer to the question: Who forged the Niger Uranium Documents?
* Pen's diary :: ::
We find ourselves beginning our journey in Paris with Manucher Ghorbanifar.
Back in 1984, Michael Ledeen put forward the idea of using Manucher Ghorbanifar to make illegal arms sales to Iran. The CIA's Deputy Director for Operations, Clair George, deemed Ghorbanifar totally unreliable. He felt that Ghorbanifar, a MOSSAD double agent, had Israel's security as his only priority. But George Bush Sr., having dealt with Ghorbanifar in Paris prior to the infamous "October Surprise" that got Ronald Reagan elected, agreed with Ledeen and so Ghorbanifar became the middleman in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. In fact, Oliver North testified that the diversion of funds to the Contras was proposed to him by
Ghorbanifar during a meeting in January 1986.
So it should have come as no surprise that Newsweek reported that :
Ghorbanifar, a former Iranian spy who helped launch the Iran-contra affair, says one of the things he discussed with Defense officials Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin at meetings in Rome in December 2001 (and in Paris last June with only Rhode) was regime change in Iran....The Pentagon cut off contact with Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA years ago labeled as a fabricator, after news about the talks broke last summer....But Ghorbanifar says he continued to communicate with Rhode, and sometimes Franklin, by phone and fax five or six times a week until shortly after the Paris meeting last summer (June 2002).
The important points to note in the Newsweek article were this:
1: The two Americans at the meeting were
a) Harold Rhode, a member of the Office of Special Plans, protege of Michael Ledeen and the liason between the administration and Ahmed Chalabi and b) Larry Franklin, formerly of the Office of Special Plans, whom the FBI arrested for giving away secrets to Israel through the organization AIPAC.
2: The two Italian men present were
a) SISMI (Italian Intelligence) Chief Nicolo Pollari. b) Italian Minister of Defense Antonio Martino.
3: The meetings were in Rome in Dec. 2001.
What Newsweek doesn't tell us is that a third American was present at that first meeting and that he was the man who organized the meeting: Michael Ledeen.
But back to Ghorbanifar. A quick look in the Wikipedia shows us that:
Ghorbanifar's suspected duplicity during the Iran-Contra deal led CIA Director William Casey to order three separate lie-detector tests, all of which he failed. Iranian officials also suspected Ghorbanifar of passing them forged American documents. The CIA issued a "burn notice" (or "Fabricator Notice") on Ghorbanifar in 1984, meaning he was regarded as an unreliable source of intelligence. A 1987 congressional report on Iran-Contra cites the CIA warning that Ghorbanifar "should be regarded as an intelligence fabricator and a nuisance" who was known to spread false information to advance his own interests.
In case you missed it, let me repeat: Iranian officials also suspected Ghorbanifar of passing them forged American documents.
Our road now takes us from Paris to Genoa, to the doors of an organization known as Propaganda Due (P2).
On July 4, 2005 the news broke that the Genoan police had arrested two leaders of a Neo-Fascist, unofficial, self-proclaimed "anti-terrorist" network operating parallel to SISMI in Italy. The group recruited police and intelligence agents to their cause. Saya and Sindoca created the Department of Strategic Anti-Terrorism Studies (DSSA), which reportedly had ties to the Bush administration as well as Isreal. One of the two leaders - Gaetano Saya - affirms he is a member of P-2 (Propaganda Due) on the DSSA website. A website which also
The evil which has descended upon us finds in men like George Bush in America and Gaetano Saya in Italy an impregnable bulwark: God-fearing men, harded and pure individuals who, enlightend by God, have descended into the valley of the shadow of death to defend the Judeo-Christian faith and the West. The righteousness which these men represent will defeat the anti-Christ. God is on their side.
The P-2 Lodge, a hotbed of fascism, reportedly maintained close links with Michael Ledeen. A number of SISMI agents and assets have been tied to the group, including Francesco Pazienza, a SISMI agent, and Rocco Martino. In 1981, a raid on the home of Licio Gelli uncovered documents listing all the names of the members of P2.
Italy's current Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi was on that list.
The road then takes us to Milan.
The mounting evidence has caused prosecutors in Genoa and Milan to suspect that the neo-Fascist intelligence group may have been involved in the kidnaping of Imam Abu Omar (Moustapha Hassan Nasr) from a street in Milan in 2003. Michael Scheuer told Italy's La Repubblica that the kidnaping of Abu Omar was authorized by SISMI chief Nicolo Pollari. Saya's website seems to indicate that SISMI Chief Nicolo Pollari was affiliated with his organization.
On June 24th, 2005 an Italian judge ordered the arrests of 13 people that an Italian newpaper reported were all American CIA agents, in the purported abduction of Abu Omar.
The judge proclaims that "Wanted for coordinating the kidnaping: Robert Seldon Lady."
Go to the following pdf, click on Italy and scroll down to the Milan station to see Lady was a member of the CIA's Milan station:
Robert Seldon Lady was a Honduran-born CIA agent once in charge of a covert American unit in Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua tasked with infiltrating anti-American groups and turning them over. Italian authorities believe Lady was involved in the initial interrogation of Abu Omar in Egypt. Lady is also accused of trying to influence the investigation. Italian agents went to Lady's home with an arrest warrant. He had fled the country.
So, like Ghorbanifar, Lady seems to have followed the road from Iran-Contra to Italy.
The road that leads us now to Rome and the Niger Embassy.
Enter Rocco Martino. A known felon in Italy, he was an on again off again member of SISMI. At one point he had worked as a consultant for the division within Fort Braschi that was keeping track of weapons of mass destruction.
In early 2000, Rocco Martino, who, as I noted above, was tied to P-2, went back on the SISMI payroll. He was then directed by a SISMI agent to contact a SISMI source, a "lady" who worked at the Niger Embassy in Rome, could provide Martino with information in exchange for which Martino pays the Nigerien "lady" 500 euros/month.
On January 2nd, 2001, police discover that the Nigerien Embassy has been broken into and documents and files were stolen. Italian investigators now believe that the breakin is related to the Niger forgeries.
Then in October 2001, the following occured as described by Joshua Marshall :
You'll remember that most of the papers in the bundle of Niger-uranium documents that arrived at the US Embassy in Rome were actually authentic. It was only a subset of the documents --- those specifically related to the alleged Niger-Iraq transactions and a couple others --- that were bogus.
In late 2001, the SISMI officer[the one who put Martino in contact with the "lady"] brought the Niger Embassy employee a packet of documents --- those later identified as forgeries --- and instructed her to slip them in with the other documents she was providing to the `security consultant' [Rocco Martino] on an on-going basis. She mixed those documents in with authentic documents which she had access to in the course of her work at the embassy. She then passed those documents --- again, a mix of authentic and forged ones --- to the `security consultant'[Rocco Martino].
This was the story that was fed to Joshua Marshall. However, now that the light has been exposed upon the parallel clandestine organization operating within SISMI, an organization that Rocco Martino was a member of, one has to ask themselves if any "lady" from the Nigerien Embassy was ever involved.
If she ever really existed, why haven't investigators already discovered the identity of this "lady"? You'd think, at the least, there'd have been an internal investigation at the Nigerien Embassy to find out who was leaking documents. There couldn't have been that many Nigerien women working in the Embassy. It seems especially unlikely that SISMI doesn't know the identity of the "lady" since the Niger embassy in Rome has been a key listening post for Italian military intelligence since 1983 in addition to the fact it was a SISMI agent that
first sent Martino to the Nigerian Embassy.
Then again, the FBI hasn't questioned Martino either, even after they were informed he was coming to America .
And here's what one analyst said about the forged documents:
the thing that stood out immediately about the documents was that a companion document - a document included with the Niger documents that did not relate to uranium - mentioned some type of military campaign against major world powers. The members of the alleged military campaign included both Iraq and Iran, and was, according to the documents, being orchestrated through the Nigerien Embassy in Rome.
Iraq and Iran, allied, taking on the world in a plan orchestrated through the Nigerien Embassy in Rome?
But it is important here to note the linkage being made by the fabricator of this forgery. This person wants to link Iran with Iraq. He wants us to believe that these two nations are a
threat. More on that later.
Here are the Nigerian forgeries .
So let's sum up what we know so far:
Rocco Martino, Michael Ledeen, Francesco Pazienza, Silvio Berlusconi and Nicolo Pollari are all members of P-2. P-2 is found out to have been running a parallel intelligence network that recruited SISMI agents. Pollari authorized the abduction of Abu Omar. The abduction was allegedly coordinated by Robert Lady. An unknown SISMI agent contacts Martino and puts him in touch with a "lady" who can get him documents about Niger. The Niger Embassy is broken into. The unknown SISMI agent gives the "lady" real Niger documents along with the forgeries. This "lady" gives them to Martino.
And now the road takes us to the office of Panorama.
Panorama is owned by Silvio Berlusconi.
Elisabetta Burba, a journalist for Panorama, receives a telephone call from Rocco Martoni telling her about the Niger documents, offering to sell them to here for ten thousand dollars. She meets with him and he gives her photocopies. She asks how they could be authenticated and he shows her a photocopy of the codebook from the Niger Embassy.
Italian authorities believe the codebook was obtained in the breakin of the Niger Embassy in 2001.
Burba shows the documents to her boss and requests to arrange a visit to Niger. Her boss, editor-in-chief Carlo Rossella, who is known to have ties with the Berlusconi government, insists that she first turn copies over to the U.S. Embassy,, which she did on October 9th. Burba's trip to Niger proved that the documents were fake and even that the companies allegedly
involved were too small to make a transaction of that size. Something the French would have known had they been behind the forgeries.
Martoni was never paid. The article was never published.
The New Yorker published an account of what happened next:
Two former C.I.A. officials provided slightly different accounts of what happened next. "The Embassy was alerted that the papers were coming," the first former official told me, "and it passed them directly to Washington without even vetting them inside the Embassy." Once the documents were in Washington, they were forwarded by the C.I.A. to the Pentagon,
he said. "Everybody knew at every step of the way that they were false--until they got to the Pentagon, where they were believed."
Who would have alerted the Embassy that the papers were coming? The entire statement presupposes that the Embassy knew what papers were coming.
But now, the long and winding road leads us at last to Washington DC and the FBI investigation into the AIPAC spy ring. Here we find the usual suspects.
Keyser Soze aka Michael Ledeen.
Michael Ledeen was one of the founders of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). He holds the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a think tank for AIPAC. He is co-founder of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran. As far back as 1980, the CIA allegedly listed Ledeen as an agent of influence of Israel. Ledeen is the main foreign policy advisor to Karl Rove. Ledeens main obsession seems to be to overthrow Iran.
In 1972 he published the book Universal Fascism, in which he expounds upon "the rightness of the fascist cause." In Universal Fascism, Ledeen first builds his case that fascism was the "20th Century Revolution" and that "people yearn for the real thing - revolution". It's the blueprint for a fascist revolution.
In 1980 he collaborated with Francesco Pazienza of SISMI and P-2 in the "BillyGate" affair. This is the same Pazienze who was recently found out to belong to the parallel intelligence agency in Italy. In 1985 Pazienza was found guilty of political manipulation, forgery, and the protection of terrorists. Ledeen is identified in court documents as an agent of SISMI.
The Pentagon downgraded Ledeen's security clearances from Top Secret-SCI to Secret in the mid-1980s, after the FBI began a probe of Ledeen for passing classified materials to a foreign country, believed to be Israel.
In 2001, Ledeen was hired by Feith to work on contract for the Office of Special Plans.
It was Ledeen who got Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard his job in the Navy.
It was Ledeen who insisted on using Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Mossad double agent, in the Iran-Contra affair.
It was Ledeen who organized the meeting between Rhodes, Franklin and Ghorbanifar on Dec. 1, 2001 in Rome.
On Dec. 12, 2001, U.S. Amb. Sembler has a private dinner with Ledeen and the Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino. Ledeen and Martino begin discussing the previous meeting with Ghorbanifar which they had both attended. Sembler, deeply concerned that a secret meeting had occured with the recipient of two CIA "burn notices", informed the CIA which in turn informed the White House, specifically Stephen Hadley. Hadley told Ledeen and Co. to back off of Ghorbanifar. But that order was ignored and communication between Ghorbanifar and Rhode continued up to their second face to face in June 2003.
Rhode also met with AIPAC lobbyists, Ahmed Chalabi, Israeli agents and SISMI during this time.
Rhode is a member of the Office of Special Plans. He fervently pushes for the invasion of Iran. He's the main liason between the White House and Ahmed Chalabi. He is a 20 year Middle East expert. He has close ties to Michael Ledeen.
"According to one former senior U.S. intelligence official who maintained excellent contacts with serving U.S. intelligence
officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, "Rhode practically lived out of (Ahmad) Chalab's office." This same source quoted the intelligence official with the CPA as saying, "Rhode was observed by CIA operatives as being constantly on his cell phone to Israel," and that the information that the intelligence officials overheard him passing to Israel was "mind-boggling," this source said. It dealt with U.S. plans, military deployments, political projects, discussion of Iraq assets, and a host of other sensitive topics, the former senior U.S. intelligence official said." FBI probes DOD office - (United Press International)
Larry Franklin, a Col. in the US Air Force, is considered the Pentagons top Iran analyst. He attended the meeting in Rome with Ghorbanifar. He works for the Office of Special Plans and is a fervent believer in the need to invade Iran. He is now under arrest for allegedly giving state secrets to Isreal through AIPAC.
FBI investigators indicate that they are looking for more than one person. Michael Ledeen and Harold Rhode have to be considered primary suspects.
This flowchart shows how the Office of Special Plans was organized.
Note that many members are also affiliated with AEI and therefore, by extension, with AIPAC. Their names are Wurmser, Rubin, Cheney, Perle and Gingrich. That's in addition, of course, to Keyser Soze, er Michael Ledeen.
One need only look at what espionage operation risked being exposed by Wilson revealing the Niger Yellowcake forgeries to realize why Rove would go so far as to 'out' Valerie Plame to discredit Joe Wilson.
Which takes us down the road to the desk of Bob Novak.
Bob Novaks greatest harm to national security didn't come from outing Valerie Plame and her front company. His greatest harm came when he made the following statement in his July 14, 2003 article:
Wilson's mission was created after an early 2002 report by the Italian intelligence service about attempted uranium purchases from Niger, derived from forged documents prepared by what the CIA calls a "con man." This misinformation, peddled by Italian journalists, spread through the U.S. government. The White House, State Department and Pentagon, and not just Vice President Dick Cheney, asked the CIA to look into it.
Up until that time, the name of the country involved was classified. Check out EmptyWheels great diary.
How could Novak have known SISMI was involved? Either someone with clearance told him, or a conspirator to the forgeries told him.
Who would those conspirators be? Those with links to P-2 and the parallel Italian intelligence network. I think I've pretty much spelled out who's on that list.
So did Manucher Ghorbanifar make the forgeries? Or was it Francesco Pazienza? The signs along the road would point to Ghorbanifar. Remember that the second forgery had the outlandish claim that Iraq and Iran were planning to take on the worlds major powers? Ghorbanifars self interest is the "liberation" of Iran. Isreal wants Iraq and Iran invaded. So does Ledeen, he's done nothing but rant about just that for years. So does Rhodes. So does Franklin. The invasion of Iran is already being planned by the White House.
No, Pazienza was most likely the SISMI agent that put Martino in touch with the "lady" who in turn passed Ghorbanifars forgeries along with the stolen Niger documents onto him.
So why hasn't the FBI questioned Rocco Martoni or the alleged "lady" at the Niger Embassy?
The answers to those questions probably lie somewhere down the road with the trial of Larry Franklin and the investigation into Valerie Plame.
Daily Kos: Niger Yellowcake and The Man Who Forged Too Much
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Niger Yellowcake and The Man Who Forged Too Much