Niger Forgeries Surface In Italian Paper

Guardian Unlimited reports;

Forged documents on which the British and US governments allegedly based their case that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger were so crudely drafted that it is unlikely they would have stood up to more than a few hours’ – or minutes’ – scrutiny by any specialist, it emerged yesterday.

The letters and paperwork, which surfaced in Italy’s left of centre daily La Repubblica, reveal how amateurish the forgeries were. Although they amount to only eight pages, they contain more than a dozen easily checkable errors.

A logo, supposedly the national symbol of Niger, is badly drawn and minus much of the detail normally used in government documents.

The Other Bush Lie

The claim has been refuted every time it’s appeared in the news.

Most recently Jim Lobe revisited the charge here.

Another story seized on by the hawks appeared in the New Yorker in spring 2002. The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, had traveled to northern Iraq, where he was given access to prisoners from Ansar al-Islam, a small group of Islamist guerrillas around Halabja. On the basis of one interview with a former drug-runner, Goldberg made Ansar appear to be a part of al Qaeda with close ties to Saddam’s intelligence services. Ansar soon became the key link, not only to al Qaeda but to chemical warfare as well. The group was said to be developing poisons – in other words, weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Woolsey called the story proof positive; Cheney called it “devastating.”

It was indeed a great story, but nothing has since turned up to sustain its key elements. What evidence has emerged about Ansar’s external links suggests the group may have been far more closely tied to an Iranian security faction than to Baghdad. Its headquarters were obliterated in the opening stages of the war, and no traces of poisons turned up in the debris. The man reported to be the link between the group and Saddam is nowhere to be found. While the CIA was excoriated by Woolsey, Perle and others for not taking Goldberg’s account more seriously, the Ansar lead appears to have collapsed on its own.

Yet General John Abizaid, in a Pentagon press briefing yesterday, kept the al Qaeda/Iraq link alive when responding to questions about the current opposition.

Q: Who are they? And who’s supporting them?

Abizaid: Ansar al-Islam, which is a terrorist group that we hit very hard in the very opening stages in the war up in the area of northern Iraq and northeast of Sulimaniyah, is coming back. We don’t know exactly how they’re infiltrating. There’s some impression that they could be infiltrating through Iran. There’s also possibility that there were people that instead of moving away from the center of Iraq after they were hit, moved down into Baghdad. So it’s clear that Ansar al-Islam is reforming and is presenting a threat to us.

And then it’s unclear, but it’s troubling that al Qaeda either look-alikes or al Qaeda people are making an opportunity to move against us.

And then I think you all know about the terrorist camp we hit several weeks ago at Ar Rahwah, and that was not necessarily a group that I could describe to you. But it did have external support in a way that’s similar to what we’ve seen in al Qaeda.

Q: Do you put any credence then in this recent claim, I believe last weekend, in a taped message that al Qaeda is in fact responsible for some of these attacks against American forces?

Abizaid: I don’t know that I would say that Osama bin Laden has made an order that has been conveyed to people that has caused them to move into Iraq to kill us, but I do know that there are those that would sympathize with him that have moved into Iraq and are trying to kill us.

Responding to a question on low troop morale and whether those who’ve been quoted criticising the administration would be punished Abizaid stated;

Look, it — none of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of Defense or the president of the United States. We’re not free to do that. It’s our professional code. Whatever action may be taken, whether it’s a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up the commanders on the scene, and it’s not for me to comment. I’m too far removed from the chain of command.

Unfortunately no mention was made of the information found in Tim Reid’s Times Online article yesterday, describing an e-mail sent to wives of troops in the US 3rd Infantry Division from the office of Ft. Stewart, Georgia’s rear detachment commander;

It warned wives not to write to politicians “or speak to the media in a negative manner” about the postponement, otherwise they risked “tarnishing the image” of their husbands.

The women stated they receive daily e-mails from husbands who are physically and emotionally spent, some near suicidal and intend to “organise a protest march near the base and run a mass letter-writing campaign to Capitol Hill.”

Rumsfeld and Abizaid remain vague about when these troops will be coming home.

Until the Bush administration decides the UN should be granted a greater role in the administration of occupied Iraq, reinforcements will be difficult to come by.

No amount of censorship will obscure that fact.

Update: The LA Times reports the administration is in the preliminary stages of granting the UN a greater role.

Abdelaziz Al Hakim

Jeanne at Body and Soul has asked for more information on Abdelaziz Al Hakim, a Shiite now sitting on the new Iraqi Governing Council.

Via Juan Cole;

Abdelaziz Al Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (and head of the paramilitary Badr Corps)

More on the Badr Corps from FAS;

It started as a brigade and developed into a division and then into a corps. The Badr Corps consist of thousands of former Iraqi officers and soldiers who defected from the Iraqi army, Iraqi refugees and POWs. A mutual agreement has been signed by SCIRI with The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Jalal Talabani to work against Saddam’s regime. A similar agreement was signed with the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) headed by Masood Barzani several years ago.

As for connections to Chalabi’s INC I’d guess they go as deeply as either side finds beneficial to their respective ambitions.

Jeanne described Chalabi as…well you read it…and I completely agree.

It could be the reason this loose cannon who can’t be trusted is now sitting on the council. He doesn’t fit the Bush & Co. profile of usual suspects tapped to fill these kinds of positions. Not pliable enough.

‘One picture is worth a thousand words.’

Isn’t It Time?

Thomas Paine Cronin speaking at a July 4th demonstration near Independence Hall in Philadelphia;

It’s time we stopped allowing ourselves to be intimidated by the Ashcrofts and the Rush Limbaughs out there. It’s time we blew the dust off the Constitution.

It’s going to take millions of marching feet — marching in the street and, next year, to the polls — to put Mr. Bush and his dog-eat-dog vision of America where they belong. In the dog house.

Mark Morford writing for the SF Gate;

And the lies, the flagrant GOP bitch slappings of the American public, the maniacal jabs straight in eye of truth with the icepick of utter BS, have just reached some sort of critical mass, some sort of saturation point of absurdity and pain and ridiculousness and you just have to stand up and applaud.

Really. It’s almost as if you should cheer the invidiousness, it is so spectacular, unprecedented, the tower of lies reaching the point where you, Jaded and Benumbed American Citizen, are forced to either recoil and ignore and deny, succumb and scream and laugh, or, like Bush himself, just sort of stand there, wide eyed, dumfounded, blinking hard, looking more blank and confused than ever, as the unified BushCo front begins to gloriously unravel.

I marched on Washington in January to protest the pre-emptive strike on Iraq and I’m ready to march again.

Our elected officials need to be shown how important it is they follow through on any and all demands for full and immediate accountability.

The world could use a reminder not all Americans are passive dolts.

Or are we? Will we sit back and allow the media to recycle and rebury all of these facts, just as they did when they first surfaced?

Isn’t it time?

Invisiblogs

The Village Voice this week profiles a blogger who claims to be a member of the Hasidic community. He chooses to publish anonymously as he fears retaliation for his often critical comments.

The article then goes on to inform of an application named Invisiblog. The article mentions it won’t be available until August but I visited the site and it appears to be accepting new ‘customers’.

What it offers is enhanced security. The administrators claim you can set-up a site and even they won’t know who you are as they employ “the Mixmaster anonymous remailer network, which uses encryption and ‘mixnet’ techniques to hide the source of an emailassign.”

They don’t claim to be censor-proof;

If we receive a court order, DMCA notice etc, we’ll comply with our legal obligations. Likewise if we receive a demand from our hosting provider or if there is some kind of denial-of-service attack on our server.

And there are posting problems as well;

Mixmaster is sometimes slow and not always reliable. It’s normal for messages to take a few hours to arrive, sometimes as long as a day. Sometimes they never arrive at all. That’s not our fault, and there’s nothing we can do to fix it.

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