Friday, March 07, 2003


Joe Conason tells us about it.

Excuse me, but did I hear correctly what Mohammed El-Baradei said this morning? According to Reuters, I did: The chairman of the International Atomic Energy Authority told the UN Security Council that the documentary evidence of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger in 1999 is "not authentic." Or to use a ruder term, the proof of this allegation provided by British intelligence last fall – and repeated by the US State Department last December -- was faked.

As El-Baradei continued his polite but thorough debunking of alarms about Iraqi nuclear capability spread by the Bush and Blair governments, he quickly passed over that little bombshell. (He dwelled longer on the question of those aluminum tubes and magnets supposedly intended for uranium enrichment centrifuges, stating again, with near-certainty after additional probing, that those items were obtained for other purposes.) What the IAEA apparently established is that letters or other documents purporting to show an Iraqi bid for uranium from Niger were forged. Among other things, he noted that handwriting on those documents had been checked by "outside" experts.

So much for the vaunted Iraqi bomb (a topic conspicuously omitted by President Bush from his war-preview press conference last night). Assuming that El-Baradei's accusation about the Niger uranium hoax is correct, what remains to be discovered is where the phony documents originated and why it was created. Like the plagiarized "intelligence report" put out by the British and cited by Secretary of State Powell at the UN last month, this is a matter for investigation by the appropriate committees of Parliament and Congress. Or it would be, if those honorable legislatures possessed the necessary independence for intelligence oversight.

My emphasis. Go to it Our Free and Independent Media!