Oh, this should be good. Just in from AP:
President Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebutHELLO MAINSTREAM MEDIA??!?!!! HAS THIS GOT YOUR ATTENTION YET??!?!?!
Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Vice President
Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, be the one to disseminate the information, an attorney knowledgeable about the case said Saturday.
Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House. The vice president chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide, the lawyer said.
What's especially interesting about this story is that it virtually confirms what Libby is now alleging: that he got his orders from Cheney. This story broke just minutes before a WaPo story indicating that Fitzgerald's paperwork has all the arrows pointing at Cheney. Now here's Cheney's lawyers pointing the finger at Bush.
Meanwhile Josh Marshall reports on a possible red herring from Italy:
According to Nato sources who spoke under condition of anonymity with the SUNDAY TIMES, an Italian investigation has fingered two employees of an embassy in Italy with forging the documents.Marshall suspects this could be a Berlusconi coverup.
Look closely. If this is an accurate representation of what the story will contain, it is about an Italian government investigation. That's all you need to know.However, it could also be an explosive piece of anti-Berlusconi electioneering, with informed sources realising that Berlusconi's pro-bush government is as good as toast (hard for outsiders to say, since Italian law prohibits polling for a lengthy period - one month, I think - ahead of the polls).
The Italian intelligence services were centrally involved in the clandestine distribution of the forgeries and in all likelihood the creation of the forgeries themselves. Everything the Italian government has done since then has been to impede any outside investigation into their role.
Marshall also hints that two US papers could be set to reveal more on this important issue: the source of the forged Niger uranium documents that Bush quotes in his State of the Union speech.
I am betting that Michael Ledeen is at the bottom of it, which would nicely tie in the whole Zionist, pro-Israel, AIPAC, neo-conservative agenda with the looming downfall of the Bush White House.
UPDATE: The Times story comes out and Marshall is proved right:
The claim actually isn't a new one. It's been rattling around Italy for at least a year, and reported in a few Italian publications aligned with the current government. The basic argument is that the Niger forgeries were the work of two employees at the Nigerien embassy in Rome, the consul, Adam Maiga Zakariaou and Laura Montini, his assistant. And the motive was money...
Now, remember, this version of events is the work of an Italian government 'investigation'. And all evidence suggests that the Italian government has very dirty hands in this whole affair, acting at least as the purveyor of the forgeries and possibly their creator as well.
There are a slew of holes in this story; and you don't need to be too deep into the arcana of the story to see them... [read Marshall's post for the details].
Once you add that fact to the mix you realize the story in the Times just doesn't add up.
This is the cover story concocted by the Italian government. It wasn't a very good one eighteen months ago and it's no better now.