Noted Without Comment

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Joshua Micah Marshall reveals some details of that big story on Iraq and Niger that he's been promising for the last couple of months.

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  1. Well, I hope their article answers the question, “Why?”

  2. “The ?security consultant? is a small-time information peddler who buys and sells information in the netherworld of diplomatic, intelligence and media circles in Rome.”

    Nice work if you can get it.

    I believe it was Atrios who compared neocon Iraq hawks to college kids who went to Vegas and got scammed out of their money their first night in town.

  3. the smirking disdain for idealism with which cynics often reward themselves

    another blogger to be safely ignored

  4. So the “big story” is about the forged documents and where they came from? That doesn’t sound especially relevant.

    Then there’s this line:

    Contrary to arguments that there was lots of independent evidence of uranium sales between Iraq and Niger, US government sources have told us that almost all of the important evidence derived from the phony documents.

    That’s an awfully oblique way of saying “some of the important evidence of the Iraq-Niger link was derived from sources unrelated to the forged documents”.

    So, basicaly, Josh’s “big story” is: there were forged documents showing an Iraq-Niger link, but the United States government also had unrelated sources of information supporting the link.

    Which, amusingly, is the Bush administration’s official position.

  5. Wilson Lied! Micah Cried!

    And Joe, you may as well put the next two sentences, “His clients include foreign intelligence services and also the Italian media. He is himself a former member of SISMI.”

    If Atrios compared neocons to college kids in Vegas, it MUST be true. Hero worship wears kind of like sports jerseys on fans, it’s cute on kids and just weird on adults.

  6. reminds me of the time i pissed on the front gate of the US embassy in Rome after a party while the guards were breaking up a drunken fight LOL

  7. Uh, Dan. You say this: “So, basicaly, Josh’s “big story” is: there were forged documents showing an Iraq-Niger link, but the United States government also had unrelated sources of information supporting the link.”

    Josh Marshall implies that those unrelated sources relied strictly on the forgeries for their information.

  8. The only reason Marshall has been following this “case” so closely is because he’s essentially staked his reputation on discrediting those 17 words in that infamous State of the Union Address. I’ve followed Josh’s “reporting” on this story, and even emailed him a few times, and all I can tell is that he is one seriously wacked one-track minded individual.

  9. Josh Marshall implies that those unrelated sources relied strictly on the forgeries for their information

    Well, I’ve re-read the article twice, and I don’t see where Marshall is implying that. If implied, it certainly isn’t supported. Are you referring to this line?:

    Specifically, it came from summaries of the documents Italian intelligence was distributing to other western intelligence agencies — including those of the US, Britain and France — in late 2001 and 2002.

    The “it” in that sentence refers to the the phrase “almost all of the important evidence evidence”. Which means, in turn, that even if Josh’s anonymous sources are in possession of all the facts and telling him the complete truth (odds of that: low), then it is *still* the case that at least some of the important evidence didn’t come from those documents.

    Also recall that the US Government’s “Africa” claim addressed a pattern of Iraqi uranium-purchasing attempts in several African nations. It’s impossible to see how the US and British governments’ conclusion that Hussein had sought uranium from the Congo could have depended on a forged document that deals solely with Niger. So what we are left with is a thus-far unrefuted claim that Iraq sought uranium from the Congo, a thus-far unrefuted claim that Iraq sought uranium from Somalia, and some evidence that he sought uranium from Niger.

    Marshall is making a big deal out of, basically, an argument over what percentage of the evidence was forged. It’s a cute rhetorical trick, and very “Josh”, but it’s not honest. The strength of an analysis is not based on the percentage of the evidence that is valid, but the on the quality of the valid evidence. For example, if I have a videotape of some guy murdering his wife, and a murder weapon with his fingerprints on it, and an eyewitness who saw him do it, and 997 pathalogical liars all falsely claiming they saw him do it, then it would be accurate to say “99.7% of my case is fraud and lies”. But it would also be fair to say that I have a rock-solid case for saying that the guy killed his wife.

  10. I don’t care what you people say. Marshall isn’t toast. Despite the loss of Denver 2nd rounder Darius Watts, they’ve still got WR Josh Davis and their QB (no Leftwich, but no slouch). In fact, they look set to flat-out run the MAC this year, keep up that high-flying passing tradition, and maybe give a few big schools a trap game (that means you, Miami!).

    Oh, wait, you mean the Talking Points guy.

    Yeah, unless you’re named Randy Moss, you ought not be reaching that hard.

    Forget that chin-humping dork. He’s done.

  11. Hey Jesse, did you read Marshall’s
    latest revelations?

    Bush lied.

    If he had anything, anything at all of substance, he’d be putting up real news here. Instead, lame cliches to rally the faithful, given the man hasn’t spoken to a real human being in his lifetime.

    Fork, baby. Fork.

    Alterman’s next.

  12. You’ve framed the question in such a way that the government’s claims are to be assumed true unless proven untrue

    Since the issue at hand is Josh Marshall’s repeated insistance that Bush has lied, the burden rests on him to show that the the government’s claims are untrue. That is what I meant by “unrefuted”; the government has claimed that Iraq sought uranium from the Congo, and Marshall has offered nothing to refute that claim. So even when he finishes his big Niger story, he’ll still have nothing.

    That’s never a good idea, especially when questions of war and peace lie in the balance

    I don’t consider this a question of war and peace, since (a) I consider Iraq a part of the war on terrorism, which we were already in and (b) the “uranium from Africa” claim was irrelevant to my support for the invasion of Iraq.

    The burden of proof is not on those of us who wish to live in peace, but on those who wish to begin a war

    What an amusing thing to believe.

  13. I understand that some people are desperate, for ideological reasons, to discount this story before they’ve read it. I also realize that many of these people prefer attacking the messenger to examining his message, again for ideological reasons. (Otherwise they wouldn’t write off Marshall while giving a pass to, say, Stephen Hayes, who has “staked his reputation” on a story far more tenuous than Marshall’s.)

    But this Talking Points post is a teaser for a coming article in which — I hope — the argument and evidence for Marshall’s assertions will be a lot clearer. Until I see that argument and evidence, I’m going to withhold judgement. Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s wrong. Maybe he’s part right and part wrong. I’m just glad to finally know what that long-promised counternarrative to the Financial Times account is.

    Oops — did I just express an opinion? So much for “noted without comment”…

  14. “what we are left with is a thus-far unrefuted claim that Iraq sought uranium from the Congo, a thus-far unrefuted claim that Iraq sought uranium from Somalia”

    You’ve framed the question in such a way that the government’s claims are to be assumed true unless proven untrue. That’s never a good idea, especially when questions of war and peace lie in the balance. The burden of proof is not on those of us who wish to live in peace, but on those who wish to begin a war.

  15. Dan, ever since the Financial Times ran its article, Marshall has been saying that as far as he can tell (based on the Senate Report and the Butler? Report) the brits relied on the info from the forgeries as well. Therefore the other sources that our government keeps refering to, are based on the forgeries. That’s all I was saying. And we’ll all just have to wait and see.

  16. Jesse Walker,

    that has been Marshall’s shtick – “I am going to reveal something big in the future; it will blow everything away” – for a long time.

    hope you don’t grow old waiting for his next revelation:-)
    (other than the normal growth, that you will experience anyway … darn, this is not coming out good:-)

  17. Hasn’t Marshall moved the goal posts just a bit? Anyone who’s been reading TPM over the last couple of years knows that Marshall has been insinuating that the evil Neo-con operators at OSI were behind all sorts of disinformation in service of their nefarious goal of getting the US to invade Iraq on behalf of corporate and umhh, “Likudnik” interests. (Who can forget his trumpeting the Chalabi brother – Zell (Israeli)- Feith connection? or his suggestion that Feith was the “James Bond” who visited Abu Graib at the time of the torture?) What happened to the months of teasers insinuating that the Niger forgeries were some kind of neo-con/OSI/Shabak operation? Now, his triumph is revealing that some two-bit Italian info peddler is behind it all? Gee, I thought that Josh was going to bring down Rumsfeld and Wolfy. This is it?

  18. I don’t see what Marshal’s story adds to the Senate Intellegence Committees report (PDF)

    Everybody who saw the original documents recognized them instantly as probable forgeries. The breakdown occurred when they were copied or summarized without being properly flagged as dubious. Those working from secondary sources did not realize the providence of the information was strongly suspect.

    In any case, the forged documents where definitely not the major basis of uranium in Africa story. The NSC submitted a draft Presidential speech with comments about uranium from Africa on Oct 4 2002 (page 54). The forgeries where not delivered to the US embassy in Rome until Oct 9 (page 57). The improperly flagged documents certainly contaminated the analysis but they weren’t the starting point for it nor it’s major prop.

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