The Report Left Out in the Cold

Is the Iraq-Niger uranium controversy a French plot?

Two foreign intelligence services, thought to be those of France and Italy, supplied Britain with the information for its controversial claim that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had sought uranium from Africa, the Financial Times newspaper reported Monday.

Britain made the uranium claim in a dossier last September despite being told the US Central Intelligence Agency had “reservations” about its inclusion.

The paper said its information came from senior Whitehall sources.


And this:

The French secret service is believed to have refused to allow Britain’s MI6 to give the United States “credible” intelligence showing that Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger, U.S. intelligence sources said yesterday.

Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service had more than one “different and credible” piece of intelligence to show that Iraq was attempting to buy the ore, known as yellowcake, British officials insisted. But it was given to them by at least one and possibly two intelligence services and, under the rules governing cooperation, it could not be shared with anyone else without the originator’s permission.

U.S. intelligence sources believe the most likely source of the MI6 intelligence was the French secret service, the DGSE. Niger is a former French colony, and its uranium mines are run by a French company that comes under the control of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

What kind of play do you think this will get in the US media? Not that there’s some kind of newsroom cabal plotting to embarrass the Administration, but the story is of the complicated kind that makes for great spy novels, but lousy sound bites.


(Many thanks to Nelson Ascher for both links — he’s a treasure to bloggers looking for good material.)

UPDATE: Nick Kristof and Paul Krugman both take swipes at the story, which means half of the NYT op-ed page is screaming “Bush is a liar and a cheat and it was a fraudulent war!” Stay tuned.


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