Now, about that FBI investigation into the origins of the Niger forgeries, discussed by Doug Jehl in his piece in today's Times.
(Apologies to longtime readers of the site who will be familiar with much of what follows.)
Jehl reports that a "counterespionage official said Wednesday that the inquiry into the documents ... had yielded some intriguing but unproved theories."
That's not a lot for an investigation that began two and a half years ago.
And, remember, the existence of the supposed FBI investigation was the basis on which Sen. Roberts' Senate intel committee agreed not to examine anything about the origins of the documents or how they came into American hands.
So how serious has that investigation been? And what is known by the two senators -- Roberts and Rockefeller -- who've been regularly briefed on it?
Consider this: As is now all over the papers in the US and Italy, the 'security consultant' who tried to peddle the forgeries to a reporter for the Italian magazine Panorama in October 2002 is a man named Rocco Martino. FBI sources continue to tell reporters that they have not been able to question Martino because they have not been able to secure the permission of the Italian government to speak with him.
Given the gravity of the case, it seems difficult to believe that the United States would tolerate Italy's non-cooperation. But what about when Martino came to the United States?
Martino travelled to the United States twice last year. He travelled under his own name and stayed in New York City where he provided interviews to me and two other journalists. By the time Martino made his second visit to the United States his name and his central role in the case had been reported in several Italian and two major British papers. Yet no effort was made to contact him or question him when he was in the US for several days.
Surely US law enforcement wouldn't need the permission of the Italian government to speak to Martino when he was on US soil.
How serious can an investigation be when there is no attempt to speak to the central person in the case?
Elisabetta Burba is the Italian journalist, who works for the Berlusconi-owned magazine Panorama, to whom Martino tried to sell the forgeries. She was interviewed by the FBI not long after Sen. Roberts agreed to co-sign Sen. Rockefeller's request for an FBI investigation in the spring of 2003. But she describes the interviews and follow-ups as cursory at best.
There are various other reasons to doubt that the Justice Department has made a serious effort to solve the mystery of the Niger forgeries. But the apparent lack of interest in even speaking to the man at the center of the scheme is a decent place to start.
As Chairman of the senate intel committee, Sen. Roberts is in a position to receive detailed briefings on the status of the investigation. And his spokespersons say he's received them. So what does he know? More reporting needed.