Paul KerrDepartment of Ass-Clownery

I recently ran across this December article

from La Repubblica which contains an interesting piece of information RE: the Iraq/Niger/uranium thing. [Translation and original link via the Leftcoaster.]

Members of the “Iraq really was uranium shopping” crowd, such as Christopher Hitchens, frequently argue
(yes, present tense) that Niger has nothing else that Iraq would want. Therefore, these geniuses deduce, there was no other plausible reason for Iraqi officials to visit that country.

[Check out more evidence of Hitchens’ penchant for being both obnoxious and spectacularly wrong on this subject.]

Enter former senior French intelligence official Alain Chouet, who
told La Repubblica that

With a deep knowledge of Niger and of all the issues connected to yellowcake. My men stayed in Africa for a couple of weeks and, once back, they told me a very simple thing: ‘the American information on uranium is all bullshit’. When I read their report, I did not doubt their work nor, if you let me say so, my mind. I know Niger well but I can say that I have known Baghdad and Saddam even better. And I know that if Saddam had wanted to purchase yellowcake (which he already owned in great quantities) from Niger he would have never asked an Ambassador to open negotiations. Saddam did not trust anybody in his Foreign Office. He certainly didn’t trust his ambassadors around the world. For such a task he would have sent one of his sons. On the other hand, we knew the reason of the journey of Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See, Wissam Al Zahawie. He had to identify an African country ready to accept the storage of the regime’s hazardous toxic waste, in exchange for money. In fact Namibia, which had been used as a dumping ground by Iraq, had told Baghdad they couldn’t go on contaminating their soil. I told the CIA the results of our mission in Niger. The Americans seemed very disappointed for what they had to hear. [emphasis mine]



  1. Arrigo (History)

    It wouldn’t hurt for you to mention that Pollari, director of Sismi, is in a spot of bother at the moment over the CIA “extraordinary rendition” on Italian soil of Abu Omar.

    The whole “affair” is currently exploding and is placing the credibility of Sismi on even shakier grounds than it was before (ask any Italian about their secret services but be prepared for hour-long discussions).

    An interesting note about their extraordinary abilities is that the police simply tapped their mobile phones to figure out that they were involved in the Abu Omar story. How eminently competent.

  2. Arrigo (History)

    You missed another “goodie” from the article.

    Quoting Alain Chouet:

    “Vi racconto una cosa. Nei miei due anni di comando alla Dgse mi è capitato di incontrare George Tenet, l’allora direttore della Cia. Ho partecipato a riunioni tra Parigi e Washington. Bene, se io dicevo che una determinata cosa era “possibile”, quella parola, nella bocca di Tenet diventava “probabile””.


    “Let me tell you something. In my two years as director of the Dgse I did happen to meet George Tenet, then director of the CIA. I took part in meetings between Paris and Washington. Well, if I said that something was “possible” then that word in Tenet’s mouth became “probable””.

    Sweet assessment of “sexing up of intelligence”.

  3. j house (History)

    The Iraq-Niger uranium issue question has always been a red herring.There was enough yellowcake at Al Tawaitha already (under IAEA (control’) to construct many, many bombs, so it is irrelevant. The fact that Iraq already had so much yellowcake to begin with begs the question…for what purpose but to one day make nuclear weapons?
    Please convince skeptics this was all for peaceful purposes. The Duelfer report clearly articulated Saddam’s long-term objectives and a nuclear capability was a long sought after goal.
    Does anyone believe that Saddam would have done nothing as Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons?

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