Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 20, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

FORGED DOCUMENTS UPDATE....So who was it that forged those Nigerien documents that started this whole mess? It's a bit of a sideshow, to be sure, but today we get a step closer to the answer. Apparently they came from an Italian journalist named Elisabetta Burba, although her ultimate source is still unclear:

Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily, quoted Elisabetta Burba as saying her source "in the past proved to be reliable." Burba, who writes for the weekly Panorama, refused to reveal her source.

"I realized that this could be a worldwide scoop, but that's exactly why I was very worried," Burba was quoted as saying. "If it turned out to be a hoax and I published it, I would have ended my career."

....Corriere della Sera quoted the journalist as saying she went to Niger to try to check out the authenticity of the documents. Burba told the paper that she was suspicious because the documents spoke of such a large amount of uranium 500 tons and were short on details on how it would be transported and arrangements for final delivery.

On her return, she said, she told Panorama's top editor that "the story seemed fake to me." After discussions at the magazine, which is owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Burba brought the documents to the U.S. Embassy.

"I went by myself and give them the dossier. No one said anything more to me, and in any case the decision not to publish it was already taken with no further way to check out the reliability of those papers, we chose not to risk" it, she said.

I suppose Burba will talk eventually, or else someone else will ferret out the truth. Still, it gives you pause for thought that an Italian journalist who very much wanted to believe the documents nonetheless quickly concluded that they were fakes, while the CIA apparently didn't figure it out for several months and even then not until the IAEA told them.

This does not give one tremendous confidence in the analytic powers of our intelligence services, does it?

Kevin Drum 11:27 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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