The AP story we noted earlier is now up on the web ...
Italian secret services warned the United States months before it invaded Iraq that a dossier about a purported Saddam Hussein effort to buy uranium in Africa was fake, a lawmaker said Thursday after a briefing by the nation's intelligence chief.
"At about the same time as the State of the Union address, they (Italy's SISMI secret services) said that the dossier doesn't correspond to the truth," Sen. Massimo Brutti told journalists after the parliamentary commission was briefed.
Brutti said the warning was given in January 2003, but he did not know whether it was made before or after President Bush's speech.
The United States and Britain used the claim that Saddam was seeking to buy uranium in Niger to bolster their case for the invasion, which started in March 2003. The intelligence supporting the claim later was deemed unreliable.
So that's the new story.
The problem is that this puts Italian intelligence in the odd, though not impossible, position of being both the purveyor and the debunker of the Niger uranium hoax.
Remember, the original reports about a Niger-Iraq uranium sale came in from Italy in late 2001 and early 2002. Those were the reports that caught Cheney's attention and subsequently sent Wilson on his trip. But, as we've noted here many times, those reports, which Wilson was briefed on before he left for Niger, were later determined to have been based on the forgeries.
If you don't want to take my word for it, listen to the conclusion which the president's own WMD commission came to ...
"The October 2002 NIE included the statement that Iraq was âtrying to procure uranium ore and yellowcakeâ and that âa foreign government serviceâ had reported that âNiger planned to send several tonsâ of yellowcake to Iraq. The statement about Niger was based primarily on three reports provided by a liaison intelligence service to CIA in late 2001 and early 2002 ... When it finally got around to reviewing the documents during the same time period, the CIA agreed that they were not authentic. Moreover, the CIA concluded that the original reporting was based on the forged documents and was thus itself unreliable." -- Robb-Silberman Commission Report, page 78.
If the Italians gave this warning to the US in January 2003, who'd the warning go to?
Something does not add up.