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Ian Masters Interview

From Ian Masters Interview

April 3rd, 2005

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Statement from Dr. Michael Ledeen:

From Ian Masters Archives

I have absolutely no connection to the Niger documents, have never even seen them. I did not work on them, never handled them, know virtually nothing about them, don't think I ever wrote or said anything about the subject. I have left a voice mail for Cannistraro suggesting he should apologize and retract right away. I think you should get back to him and ask him if he didn't just make it up, or was repeating gossip. There can be no credible evidence for the claim, and you will not wish to be associated with it, I'm sure.

And you should also notice that you and Cannistraro have misspelled the acronym for the Italian Military Intelligence Service. It's SISMI not SISME. A good Italian like Cannistraro should at least know that!

Michael Ledeen



Interview with Ian Masters


Vincent Cannistraro, a senior and experienced former CIA official, spoke with Ian Masters about the recent Bush-authorized Silberman-Robb Commission report which places blame for "intelligence failures" on the nation's intelligence services, particularly the CIA. Some newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, have printed some sharply contrary accounts, however, which stated that intelligence officers actively tried to warn top officials that their primary source for WMD information and the Iraqi threat information was extremely dubious. This source, code-named "Curveball," (who is related to the now-disgraced Iraqi National Congress head, Ahmed Chalabi) was considered by many in the CIA to be unreliable at best and mentally ill at worst. The charge has been made, by counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke and others, that the Bush administration demanded that intelligence be provided to suit their prior intention to strike Iraq. Former CIA Director George Tenet, to whom Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom--the nation's top civilian medal (after what has been called by many the "worst intelligence failure in American history")--has strenuously disputed the reports that said "warnings" were given by intelligence officers to top officials. To sort out the reality from the hype, Ian Masters interviewed an intelligence expert whose long experience and authority in clandestine operations of the CIA is likely unexcelled--Vincent Cannistraro. In the course of this interview, Cannistraro makes the powerful charge that the famous forged Niger documents, cited by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address in January 2003, as proof of Saddam's nuclear intentions, and used in part as justification for the subsequent invasion of Iraq, were not forged in Italy as had been previously suspected, but were fabricated in the United States. When asked by Ian Masters if he would state the person or persons who actually perpetrated the forgery, Cannistraro declined. Masters presses, proffering "If I were to say the name 'Michael Ledeen' to you, what would you say?" Canistraro responds with "you're very close." Dr. Ledeen is a well-known Washington national security operative, having been fired from the Reagan National Security Council and as a figure in the Iran-Contra scandal. Described by the BBC as an "ultra neo-conservative," he enjoys close ties to the Vice President's office and in the Pentagon. He has extensive connections in Italy. Further background: The Niger forgery, described as "obvious" and "amateurish" by Mohammed al-Baradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was revealed as a forgery by an investigation conducted by the IAEA. The forged Niger documents emerged originally in Italy, passed to a reporter at the Italian Panorama magazine (owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) by an Italian arms-dealer and businessman, with ties to Iran-Contra figure Manucer Gorbanifar. Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who, at the behest of Vice President Cheney, investigated the alleged Iraq-Niger tie implied in the documents--prior to the January State of the Union address, concluded that their contents were false (although he did not state that they were forgeries). After Wilson saw that Bush had used the false information contained in the documents in the 2003 State of the Union, he wrote an Op-Ed, published in the New York Times, stating that Bush's SOTU Niger allegations were non-credible. Later, apparently in retaliation, Wilson's wife Valerie Plame, who was operating as a CIA agent working in anti-nuclear-proliferation efforts, had her agent-cover blown by journalist Robert Novak. Novak publicly reported information given to him by "someone in the White House," which made Plame's career in which she was working to stop the spread of nuclear weapons untenable, as well as compromising the personal safety and security of her and others with whom she worked. An investigation of the Plame matter continues, conducted by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, with no conclusion yet announced. At this point, no civil suit have been filed in the case. The "pre-emptive" Iraq war continues apace with its historic consequences, justified initially in part, by documents forged in the United States, according to Cannistraro.



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