Buried in this new Business Week article by Eamon Javers and Dawn Kopecki is a startling revelation: MZM Inc., the company once owned by admitted felon Mitchell Wade, worked on assessing Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities during the runup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
"[B]efore the invasion of Iraq," the duo writes, "[MZM's business] included helping with [the] controversial analysis of Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities."
Wade, of course, has confessed to bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) with over a million dollars in money, gifts and favors.
Others, including Warandpiece.com's Laura Rozen, have long suspected Wade's MZM to have played a role in throwing the calls on Saddam's nuclear programs. It's been known for some time that MZM provided contract employees to the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), which handled much of the Pentagon's pre-war WMD analysis. But Javers and Kopecki are the first to report that those MZMers were involved in the center's (mis)interpretation of the pre-war Iraq nuke intel.
The two note that while the White House's WMD Commission directed heavy criticism at the NGIC for "misscharacterizing" Saddam's nuclear program, it didn't fault MZM directly. (Of course, as we reported earlier, MZM had at least three staffers on the commission's staff.)
While the White House's own panel didn't fault MZM, an earlier Senate study had found that an unnamed contractor was directly involved in blowing the nuke call. See Rozen's post from last December for details.
There's a kicker to all this, of course. Despite having a hand in one of the biggest intelligence failures in recent history, folks in the intel community seem to think MZM has just done great work for them. Before the company was bought last August, the new owner, Veritas, hired former CIA General Counsel Jeffrey Smith to do due diligence on MZM, and according to his interviews, MZM did top-shelf work. "Smith. . . reported back that the half-dozen intelligence agencies he approached thought highly of MZM."
It's a piece well worth reading.
Update: Rozen has more details about NGIC and WMD intelligence.