Roger L. Simon

What Did Joseph C. Wilson Know and When Did He Know It?

Remember Joseph C. Wilson? Probably if you’re a news junkie, but you can be excused if you don’t. While the Plame/Wilson Affair was all the rage in the NYT and LAT (particularly) when it seemed a huge (although somewhat inexplicable) embarrassment to the administration, it mostly vanished from the mainstream media when Wilson emerged as less than truthful and heroic — more of a sleazy lifetime vassal of the Saudis and their buddies in the State Department. That was it for his fifteen minutes. Oh, but he did manage to be photographed with his “secret agent” wife in Vanity Fair, not to mention publish a book filled with more lies than a National Guard document. Call it Rathergate, the Prequel.

But to refresh your memory, much of this brouhaha had to do with discrediting the Niger uranium forgeries supposedly used by our government to justify war in Iraq (although they weren’t). My friend Michael Ledeen was even accused of being the forger. (Serves him right for learning Italian.) But now the truth has been revealed. I wrote earlier on this blog that there were allegations these forgeries were made not by Ledeen, not by the now-notorious Bill Burkett (just kiddng – he certainly doesn’t know Italian), but by French Intelligence. Now, according to a court proceeding reported in the Telegraph, those allegations are evidently true.

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, “Giacomo”.

His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that – by commissioning “Giacomo” to procure and circulate documents – France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.

Obviously the intention of the French was to discredit the US and the UK and the entire enterprise for their purposes (making cash from dictators). But enough about them. How does this relate to Wilson whose mission was to investigate yellowcake in Niger? I’m not sure. I don’t have the facilities to investigate, but I’d wager there are plenty of dots to connect, a great story for the mainstream media – a tale of subterfuge worthy of the early LeCarré, with plenty of buried bodies to unearth. If I were an editor, I’d assign it. But then what do I know? I’m only a blogger.