Just posted on National Review Online, one hour after our posting of James Lewis's AT article today, the estimable Michael Ledeen explores the forged Niger documents in an imagined dialogue with James Angleton and concludes (with the help of his imaginary mentor) that these documents were forged by the French in 2000 when they considered that Clinton might invade Iraq and were recycled to embarrass this Administration.
Here's a sample:
Look at page 76 of the Silberman—Robb Report. CIA had received three reports from "a liaison intelligence service" in late '01 and early 2002. "One of these reports explained that...during meetings on July 5—6, 2000, Niger and Iraq had signed an agreement for the sale of 500 tons of uranium." And the "liaison service" provided a "verbatim text" of the agreement. Got that? Not the document, but a text. They were keeping the documents to themselves, and they wouldn't tell us the source, because, they said, they were afraid of leaks.
ML [Michale Ledeen]: Right, that text is supposed to be the text of one of the forged documents.
JJA [James Jesus Angleton, fantasy voice of the late former master spy]: Silberman—Robb doesn't say that, actually, although that's probably true. Everyone has assumed that the "liaison service" was Italian, but since the Italians did not have those documents in early 2002—nobody except the French and Rocco, the French agent, had them at that time—it wasn't them.
ML: So they weren't the "liaison service." It was...the FRENCH???
JJA: Voila! Or should I say, Ecco!?
ML: In fact, the New York Times on Saturday quotes the head of the Italian service accusing the French of being behind Rocco and the documents.
JJA: Yeah, and what do the French say? They say the guy's remarks are "scandalous," but they don't deny it. Hah! God, I wish they let us have cigarettes here, I'd blow some smoke rings....
Clarice Feldman 11 07 05