G. The Niger Documents
( )On October 9, 2002, an Italian journalist from the magazine Panorama provided U.S. Embassy Rome with copies of documents8 pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. The journalist had acquired the documents from a source who had requested 15,000 Euros in return for their publication, and wanted the embassy to authenticate the documents. Embassy officers provided copies of the documents to the CIA's because the embassy, which did collect the information, was sending copies of the documents back to the State Department headquaters.
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( ) Also on October 11, 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Rome reported to State Department headquarters that it had acquired photocopies of documents on a purported uranium deal between Iraq and Niger from an Italian journalist. The cable said that the embassy had passed the documents to the CIA's SENTENCE DELETED . The embassy faxed the documents to the State Department's Bureau of Nonproliferation (NP) on October 15, 2002, which passed a copy of the documents to INR.
(U) Immediately after receiving the documents, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst e-mailed IC colleagues offering to provide the documents at a previously planned meeting of the Nuclear Interdiction Action Group (NIAG) the following day. The analyst, apparently already suspicious of the validity of the documents noted in his e-mail, "you'll note that it bears a funky Emb. of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess)."
(U) The INR Iraq nuclear analyst told Committee staff that 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, which all struck the analyst as "completely implausible." Because the stamp on this document matched the stamp on the uranium document, the analyst thought that all of the documents were likely suspect. The analyst was unaware at the time of any formatting problems with the documents or inconsistencies with the names or dates.
(U) On October 16, 2002, INR made copies of the documents available at the NIAG meeting for attendees, including representatives from the CIA, DIA, DOE and NSA. Because the analyst who offered to provide the documents was on leave, the office's senior analyst provided the documents. She cannot recall how she made the documents available, but analysts from several agencies, including the DIA, NSA and DOE, did pick up copies at that meeting. None of the four CIA representatives recall picking up the documents, however, during the CIA Inspector General's investigation of this issue, copies of the documents were found in the DO's CPD vault. It appears that a CPD representative did pick up the documents at the NIAG meeting, but after returning to the office, filed them without any further distribution.
( ) The CIA told the Committee its analysts did not seek to obtain copies of the documents because they believed that the foreign government service reporting was verbatim text and did not think it would advance the story on the alleged uranium deal. One analyst noted that, at the time, the CIA was preparing its case DELETED on reconstitution and since the uranium reporting was not significant to their argument, getting the documents was not a priority.
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(U) On November 22, 2002, during a meeting with State Department officials, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for Nonproliferation said that France had information on an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger. He said that France had determined that no uranium had been shipped, but France believed the reporting was true that Iraq had made a procurement attempt for uranium from Niger.
( )On November 25, 2002, The Naval DELETED issued a very brief report (Alleged Storage of Uranium Destined for Iraq that a large quantity of uranium from Niger was being stored in a warehouse in Cotonou, Benin. The uranium was reportedly sold to Iraq by Niger's President. The report provided the name and telephone numbers for the individual, a West African businessman, who was responsible for coordinating the alleged uranium transaction and indicated that he was willing to provide information about the transaction. CIA's DO told Committee staff that the businessman has never been contacted and the DO has not made an effort to determine whether this individual had any useful information. The DO told Committee staff that they saw no reason to contact him and noted that "no one even thought to do that." The Defense Humint Service (DHS) and the Navy also told Committee staff that they did not try to contact the businessman. The Navy told the Committee that because they were not further tasked regarding their report, they did not pursue the matter further. The DHS told Committee staff that because the DHS examined the warehouse on December 17, 2002 and saw only what appeared to be bales of cotton in the warehouse, they did not see a reason to contact the businessman. The report on the DHS's findings was not published until February 10, 2003.
(U) On December 17, 2002, WINPAC analysts produced a paper, U.S. Analysis of Iraq's Declaration, 7 December 2002. The paper reviewed Iraq's "Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Disclosure" to the UN of its WMD programs and made only two points regarding the nuclear program - one noted Iraq's failure to explain its procurement of aluminum tubes the IC assessed could be used in a nuclear program, and the other noted that the declaration "does not acknowledge efforts to procure uranium from Niger, one of the points addressed in the U.K. Dossier." An e-mail from the INR Iraq nuclear analyst to a DOE analyst on December 23, 2002 indicated that the analyst was surprised that INR's well known alternative views on both the aluminum tubes and the uranium information were not included in the points before they were transmitted to the NSC. The DOE analyst commented in an e-mail response to INR that, "it is most disturbing that WINPAC is essentially directing foreign policy in this matter. There are some very strong points to be made in respect to Iraq's arrogant non-compliance with UN sanctions. However, when individuals attempt to convert those "strong statements" into the "knock out" punch, the Administration will ultimately look foolish - i.e. the tubes and Niger!"
8 ( ) The documents from the Italian journalist are those that were later passed to the IAEA and discovered to have been forged. In March 2003, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Rockefeller, requested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigate the source of the documents, ,the motivation of those responsible for the forgeries, and the extent to which the forgeries were part of a disinformation campaign. Because of the FBI's investigation into this matter, the Committee did not examine these issues.
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