Two years ago Seymour Hersh ,in a usual anti—Bush article, offered up this interesting nugget about the "forged documents" which I think are the true target of the Wilson/Plame investigation. I give his report no particular credence but thought it might be of interest to readers:
Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, 'Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.' He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.
'The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,' the former officer said. 'They said, 'O.K, we're going to put the bite on these guys.' ' [emphasis added] My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. 'Everyone was bragging about it—'Here's what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.' ' These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.
'They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,' my source said. 'They thought it'd be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.' The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. 'It got out of control.'
Like all large institutions, C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, is full of water—cooler gossip, and a retired clandestine officer told me this summer that the story about a former operations officer faking the documents is making the rounds. 'What's telling,' he added, 'is that the story, whether it's true or not, is believed'
Clarice Feldman 10 14 05