posted on Jul, 19 2003 @ 12:38 AM
Cheney Was Bush’s Triggerman in Escalating Intelligence Catfight
Vice President Dick Cheney was the true triggerman behind waging the imperialist war on Iraq.
Exclusive To American Free Press
By Gordon Thomas
Vice President Dick Cheney was the trigger which exploded the long-simmering war between the White House and the CIA’s embattled director, George
He ordered Tenet last January to insert the now notorious 16 words that there was “credible” British intelligence that Saddam had tried in 2001 to buy
uranium ore (yellowcake) from Niger, the impoverished West African nation.
Three months before, in October 2002, Tenet had personally intervened to stop President Bush from making such a claim in a speech asserting that
Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Tenet told Bush he could not support the claim. When Cheney told him last January about the “credible” British intelligence, Tenet repeated his
warning that the CIA could not endorse it. In what one account says was a “tense meeting,” Cheney bluntly overruled Tenet.
The vice president’s action cast a shadow over British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s visit to Washington.
Bush feels Britain’s intelligence services, MI6 and MI5, have not kept the CIA properly informed. Blair insists his spy agencies could not pass on
more information on the Niger yellowcake because, according to a London Foreign Office officer, “under the rules governing cooperation they have with
foreign intelligence services, our service could not share intelligence from those sources without the originator’s permission.” ...
...“We don’t believe for a moment that Tenet just fell on his own sword. What happened has all the hallmarks of Dick Cheney,” said an MI6 source close
to the agency’s director-general, Sir Richard Dearlove.
The reverberations have led to calls in London for Blair to resign—and efforts by former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer to bring closure to the
row on the eve of his own departure from the administration.
Clare Short, who resigned from Blair’s cabinet over Britain going to war “on a false pretense,” said Blair “should now resign before matters get
nastier for him. Trust in him and Bush is going down by the day.”
How all this happened is one of the most shocking stories to emerge in the post-Iraq war inquest.
ORIGINS OF NIGER SCANDAL
The complex story has simple roots. In November 2001, Italian secret service agents were approached by a West African diplomat. He said he had details
of a plot by the Iraqis to buy “hundreds of tons” of uranium ore from Niger. He produced supporting documents.
On the surface, the claim sounded credible. Iraq had already purchased 200 tons of yellowcake from Niger in 1986, the Italians told the CIA station in
Rome. The station chief sent a detailed report to Langley, including the documents the African diplomat had provided.
The material was sent to the State Department. The U.S. ambassador to Niger at the time, Barbro Owens-Kirk Patrick, was asked to assess all the
But while she was doing so, Cheney intervened. He told a senior diplomat, Joseph Wilson—who had first-hand knowledge of Niger—that he wanted him to go
there and investigate the claims.
By the time he arrived, Owens-Kirkpatrick had dismissed the documents as “crude forgeries”—and the African diplomat’s claims to the Italians as “pure
Wilson concurred. His own investigation showed that Niger’s security on yellowcake—introduced after Saddam’s previous purchase—was too rigorous for
any Iraqi attempt to purchase uranium ore to have gone undetected.
In March 2002, Wilson briefed Tenet. He passed on Wilson’s findings to his British counterpart, Sir Richard Dearlove of MI6. He informed the head of
MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, and John Scarlett, the former spy who now chairs Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee. His job is to know anything
that can be known about Saddam and his WMD.
On Sept. 24, 2002, Blair published his government’s dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It included the claim “Iraq has sought the supply
of significant amounts of uranium from Africa.”
It did not say when—let alone whether—this had been in the 1980s. Neither was Niger mentioned. But to Wilson it was “obvious this was the same story
as in the discredited documents.”
There the matter may have died as far as the White House went if Bush had not wanted to include the details in his October speech of last year.
Having headed him off, Tenet believed the bogus Niger connection was over. But then Cheney made his fateful visit to Langley last January to demand
that Tenet should allow the Niger story to form part of Bush’s State of the Union speech.
Tenet, say credible sources, was horrified. He reminded Cheney that both Owens-Kirkpatrick and Wilson had refuted any Niger connection.
Cheney was insistent. He said there was credible evidence from British intelligence. He cited the Blair report. He reminded Tenet of Saddam’s previous
acquisition of yellowcake in the 1980s.
Tenet had explained Niger had no capability to enrich uranium ore—the basic prerequisite to producing a nuclear bomb. He added that, after the first
gulf war ended, UN inspectors had destroyed Saddam’s essential equipment that could turn the ore into fissionable material.
The CIA was certain that Iraq had not been able to repair the equipment. Tenet also reminded Cheney he had personally intervened to stop Bush
including the “Niger story” in his speech three months before, in October 2002.
Cheney, according to one CIA source, “came close to critical mass.”
He told Tenet that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had now received “good intelligence” from London that Saddam had tried to buy uranium
ore from Niger in 2001. Therefore that would go into the State of the Union speech—and Tenet must accept the British intelligence.
“The clear implication from Cheney was that the Brits knew more than we did,” said the CIA source.
Bush, traveling back from his African trip, told reporters that Tenet had “cleared” the reference to Niger.
Rice went further: “If the CIA director had said take this out, it would have gone, without question.”
Tenet did say that. Cheney overruled him—once more citing the British “credible sources.” So who were they?
Intelligence sources believe there are two. The French secret service (DGSE) and Mossad.
Both have a strong presence in West Africa.
Niger is a former French colony.
Israel receives a substantial portion of its oil from adjoining Nigeria.
Niger’s uranium mines are run by a French company which is supervised by the French Atomic Energy Commission.
In London, MI6 insists the evidence from these sources remains “credible.”
British intel sources say that “a further factor in the refusal to share its information about Niger with the CIA is concern that the White House
would publish it—and lead to our sources being uncovered,” said a London source.
On his trip to London to meet Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was accompanied by Meir Dagan, head of Mossad. He met Sir Richard Dearlove
and Eliza Manningham-Buller.
High on their list was the Niger uranium claim. No one still knows if the French-Mossad intelligence is credible.
Did Mossad provide it as part of Israel’s own strategy to ramp-up the war against Iraq?
Did French intelligence refuse to allow the CIA to see its own intelligence because the Paris government was strongly opposed to the coming war with
Iraq—and would not wish to provide Washington with any support for military action?
At a recent meeting, Bush confronted Blair with these questions.
But there is little optimism that there will be resolution to a growing crisis which has already blighted the leadership of both men.
[Edited on 19-7-2003 by MaskedAvatar]