Berlusconi government lying, but how much?
As the AP reports, the Italian government is "categorically" denying any complicity in the Niger fraud. The Italians, says the AP, deny any "direct or indirect involvement in the packaging and delivery of the 'false dossier on Niger's uranium'."
I strongly suspect that this is a complete lie.
But it is certainly what we might call a de facto lie, an intentional deception which may be technically accurate because of the specific and misleading phrasing employed.
Allow me to explain.
It is more or less an open secret, at least known fairly widely within the US government, that the Niger uranium ball was started rolling in late 2001 by the Italians. It began when they sent their reports about an illicit uranium traffic between Iraq and Niger to the CIA. Those are the reports that got Cheney's attention and eventually lead to Wilson's dispatch to Niger.
Those reports were partial text transcriptions of what would later be revealed as the Niger forgeries.
Set aside for the moment whether Pollari, Castellaneta and others in Mr. Berlusconi's government connived later to get the documents themselves into the hands of the White House or publicize them by leaking them to a Berlusconi-owned magazine. The denial above is only true if we make a distinction between facsimiles (i.e., photocopies) of the documents and text transcriptions of the phony documents. One way or another, what some of web folks lightheartedly call the 'yellowcake road' leads right to Rome. And the Berlusconi government is refusing to come clean.