The Niger Uranium Coup By The Shadow Warriors


Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender, a book by Kenneth Timmerman, is chock full of facts on how various people within our State Department and Intelligence agencies undermined the war. As I did with The Looming Tower I am going to take excerpts from the book for the readers to check out and digest. The first one being about those sixteen words and the Niger deal. You know those words. Tenet wrote in his book, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA:

Later some would allege that this handful of words was critical to the decision that led the nation to war. Contemporaneous evidence doesn’t support that, but just try convincing people of that today.

But as Timmerman notes:

The real question is not whether the administration “lied” about the prewar intelligence. The Robb-Silberman Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, which delivered a 610-page report on the subject in March 2005, stated categorically that the CIA continued to believe in the authenticity of the Niger documents when Bush made the sppech, and that “no one in the Intelligence Community had asked that the line [the famous sixteen words] be removed.” The CIA continued to claim that it never actually looked at the documents until after the scandal broke, because they had other sources for the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

A later Senate Select intelligence committee report, issued May 25, 2007, revealed that “the Intelligence community used or cleared the Niger-Iraq uranium intelligence fifteen times before the President’s State of the Union address and four times after, saying in several papers that Iraq was “vigorously pursuing uranium from Africa” [emphasis in the original]. According to Richard Perle, Sire Richard Dearlove, who was head of British intelligence at the time, insisted over breakfast in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in early 2007 that he still stood by the original story. “Dearlove told me that the basis he used for the assessment that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger had nothing to do with the bogus documents,” Perle told me.

The real question was whether the Niger documents were a plant, and elaborate sting operation by the President’s enemies aimed at leading him into an error they would later claim he had known about all along.

It all started with a former Italian policeman named Rocco Martino whom the French intelligence codenamed Giacomo.

…he had worked for Egyptian intelligence and the Italian military, and in 1996 became a paid informer for the French Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieur (DGSE). In 1999, he provided his French intelligence clients with genuine documents that revealed how Niger planned to expand trade with Iraq, apparently through clandestine uranium sales.


The French continued to express interest in Niger, so Martino looked for more documents. Through an old contact at Italy’s military intelligence agency, Colonel Antonia Nucera, he hooked up with a sixty-year old Italian secretary at the Niger embassy. She was on the books of SISMI (Servizio per la Informazione e la Sicurezza Militare) as a paid informer, code-named La Signora.


“I limited myself to supplying Martino with copies of embassy documents in which there were traces of Niger agreements, in particular with Iraq,” she later told Rome judge Franco Ionta.

In 2001 there was a break-in to the Niger embassy and the place was ransacked. At the time they believed nothing of value had been stolen but soon after the breakin the fake Niger documents began to appear.

Some accounts say Martino forged them while others say SISMI did and had Martino peddle them.

“I began to have my suspicions about Rocco Martino after the theft in the embassy in 2001,” said La Signora. What tipped her off was Martino’s insistence on having a copy of a Niger-Iraq uranium contract that didn’t exit. “Martino always told me that if ever he got hold of an eventual contract between the two parties he would have gained a considerable sum from a certain intelligence company in Brussel to which he belonged.” Everyone understood she was referring to French intelligence, the DGSE.

In the summer of 2001 Martino handed the forged document to the DGSE after which the French told the US State Department that they had information that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger and the rest is history.

But all that is not the real story here. The real story is how people inside our own government conspired to keep the fact that these were forgeries a secret.

On October 15, 2001, the day Berlusconi finally met with Bush in the Oval Office, the new head of SISMI, Nicolo Pollari, briefed the CIA Rome station chief on the alleged Niger-Iraq uranium deal. Pollari knew he had to play his cards close to the vest, because signatures and named had been altered on the Niger documents. So rather then give the doctored documents to CIA station chief Jeff Castelli, he let him look through them and scribble a few hasty notes on their content.

Castelli’s report to Langley formed the basis for the first intelligence reports on the Niger deal which was picked up by Castelli’s division chief Tyler Drumheller who later put it into the daily Senior Executive Intelligence Brief on October 18, 2001.

Pollari went back to Castelli three days later with a page and a half note, explaining that the “information comes from a credible source,” a reference to the SISMI informant, La Signora.


Castelli forwarded three reports on three seperate occasions to Drumheller. After he retired from the Agency in February 2005, Drumheller became an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, and claimed that Castelli considered the Niger reports “bullshit.”

Neither Castelli nor Drumheller ever tried to expose them as forgeries, however. On the contrary: their reporting helped to validate the forged Niger documents, as the Robb-Silberman Commission investigating U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s WMD program later found.

It was an extraordinary accomplishment by the shadow warriors. They had taken fakes and laundered them through the system, all the while claiming their innocence.

Meanwhile, Rocco Martino went to London, where he delivered a copy of the Niger documents to MI6. British intelligence contributed its own reports to Washington based at least in part on the faked documents. These reports also flowed through the CIA’s European division chief, Tyler Drumheller. This created the illusion of multiple, independent reporting streams on the alleged deal. Bush ultimately relied on the British reports, summarized in a public dossier released by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office in September 2002, for the basis of the sixteen words on Iraq’s uranium procurement efforts that made its way into his State of the Union message in January 2003.

Later, the Director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), Greg Thielman, would tell reporters that he had seen through the scam from the start. Italian reporters asked him what SISMI’s role in the whole thing was:

“SISMI, like the CIA and the entire Anglo-Saxon intelligence community, is ready and willing to satisy the hawks in the U.S. administration.”

But Thielman’s description didn’t fit the likes of CIA officers Jeff Castelli or Tyler Drumheller, who opposed the “hawks of the U.S. administration.” It was another careful piece of subterfuge by the shadow warriors.

After leaving INR in September 2002, Thielman revealed his true colors, going to work for the Democratic staff of the Senate intelligence committee. By this point, [Carl] Levin was gearing up to spring his trap. And all the while this extraordinary intelligence coup against the President by CIA and State Department intelligence officers and their accomplices in Congress was being set in motion, no one pursued the very real contacts between Saddam’s nuclear advisor, Wissam al-Zahawie, and the Niger government.

More to come.

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Boy you got that shadow warriors thing right, the swamp has to be drained. How do we let this happen? The next President ( I hope Romney) has got to accept the resignations of all and revet, hiring back only AMERICANS. The traitors need to be weeded out stat.

You guys are sounding as bonkers as the 9/11 truthers. If as expected a Democrat wins the White House I do expect that there will be a wholesale house cleaning and that any who have loyalties to any country other than the USA will be forced out.

John’s referring to those same predictions that had Democrats taking the House in 2002, Democrats taking the House and Senate and WH in 2004, and Democrats who really did have a plan for a “New Direction In Iraq” in 2006. What he fails to realize-and will so coldly-is that it’s a Catch 22. If Democrats lose, then he’s been misled by the left yet again. If Democrats win, then they have their worst fear: Accountability and responsibility for their actions. If 2006 election results are the trend (and it seems to be) then a DNC sweep of the entire govt will only bring the same failed expectations for those who put them there. We constantly hear what liars, manipulators, secretive, conspiratorial people Republicans are, but there’s no questioning of what there is on the left. If there were, then the litany of lies for the past 7yrs would be as revealed. Nah, accountability and responsibility be damned.

I do expect that there will be a wholesale house cleaning and that any who have loyalties to any country other than the USA will be forced out

John, you do know what I am going to say next?

I wish President Bush HAD forced out people who have loyalties other than the USA out in 2001, but he just had to compromise and get along with the left. I also stated where I met a treasonous leftist from the DoS in Iraq more than once.

But our definition of loyalty to the USA may be different. Mine stems from my Oath of Service to the Constitution, I am not sure where your definition stems from, but I bet Intrade has odds on it.