Linda Rozen writes:
The investigative reporting team at Italy's La Repubblica has an explosive story out today, on the Italian angle on the Nigergate mysteries. In it they report that Nicolo Pollari, the chief of Italian military intelligence Sismi, met with then deputy national security advisor Stephen Hadley in September 2002 -- just as the White House was assembling the evidence it would use to convince the American public and Congress of the need for war, in large part, the White House claimed, to prevent Saddam from reconstituting his nuclear arsenal. The meeting could help explain why despite numerous attempts by the CIA to get the White House to take out the Niger yellowcake claims from its speeches, the claims made their way back into Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech. The unusual meeting may also help explain the seemingly hysterical overreaction of the White House to Joseph Wilson's pushback on the Niger yellowcake claims, several months later. I'm reporting on the case over at The American Prospect and Tapped.Rozen later updated that a National Security Council spokesman confirmed that Pollari and Hadley did meet in Italy on September 9, 2002, though what they met about was unconfirmed to Rozen.
According to Joseph Wilson's book, The Politics of Truth (pg. 352), Hadley was
"'one of those responsible for vetting Bush's State of the Union address. On July 22 , Hadley acknowledged that he should have deleted the reference [the "16 words" in the SOTU address] to Iraq's attempts to buy uranium, because months earlier, in two memos and a phone call from Tenet himself, the CIA had warned him that the claim was weak. All three of those warnings had been issued before the president's Cincinnati speech in early October. Hadley clamed that he had evidently failed to recall them three months later, in January. "The high standards the president set were not met." Hadley admitted.'"Rozen writes in her piece today that:
Yet if anyone knew who was actually responsible for the White House's trumpeting of the Niger claims, it would seem from the Repubblica report that Hadley did. He also knew that the CIA, which had initially rejected the Italian claims, was not to blame. Hadley's meeting with Pollari, at precisely the time when the Niger forgeries came into the possession of the U.S. government, may explain the seemingly hysterical White House overreaction to Wilson's article almost a year later.Hmmm. The plot thickens. We'll have to wait and see what Patrick Fitzgerald says, as rumor has it that sealed indictments are coming down on Wednesday. Steve Clemons notes:
An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN:We'll see, now won't we? I tend to err on the side of caution. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end. 2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.
3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.
4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.