Sunday, September 05, 2004

The War in Iraq - Our Friends the French

London's Telegraph is running a story that purports that the French intelligence service was behind the forged documents indicating that Iraq was seeking "yellowcake" uranium from Niger. These documents were part of the evidence that British Intelligence relied on. These British claims were mentioned by President Bush in his State of the Union address and led to controversy when Joe Wilson claimed that he (and the White House) knew about the forgeries (this story, and Mr. Wilson in general, have since been discredited.
Italian diplomats say that France was behind forged documents which at first appeared to prove that Iraq was seeking "yellow-cake" uranium in Niger - evidence used by Britain and America to promote the case for last year's Gulf war.

They say that France's intelligence services used an Italian-born middle-man to circulate a mixture of genuine and bogus documents to "trap" the two leading proponents of war with Saddam into making unsupportable claims.

They have passed to The Sunday Telegraph a photograph which they claim shows the Italian go-between, sometimes known as "Giacomo" - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - meeting a senior French intelligence officer based in Brussels. "The French hoped that the bulk of the documents would be exposed as false, since many of them obviously were," an Italian official said.

"Their aim was to make the allies look ridiculous in order to undermine their case for war."

According to an account given to The Sunday Telegraph, France was driven by "a cold desire to protect their privileged, dominant trading relationship with Saddam, which in the case of war would have been at risk".

Via the Corner