I recently ran across this December article
from La Repubblica which contains an interesting piece of information RE: the Iraq/Niger/uranium thing. [Translation and original link via the Leftcoaster.]
Members of the “Iraq really was uranium shopping” crowd, such as Christopher Hitchens, frequently argue
(yes, present tense) that Niger has nothing else that Iraq would want. Therefore, these geniuses deduce, there was no other plausible reason for Iraqi officials to visit that country.
[Check out more evidence of Hitchens’ penchant for being both obnoxious and spectacularly wrong on this subject.]
Enter former senior French intelligence official Alain Chouet, who
told La Repubblica that
With a deep knowledge of Niger and of all the issues connected to yellowcake. My men stayed in Africa for a couple of weeks and, once back, they told me a very simple thing: ‘the American information on uranium is all bullshit’. When I read their report, I did not doubt their work nor, if you let me say so, my mind. I know Niger well but I can say that I have known Baghdad and Saddam even better. And I know that if Saddam had wanted to purchase yellowcake (which he already owned in great quantities) from Niger he would have never asked an Ambassador to open negotiations. Saddam did not trust anybody in his Foreign Office. He certainly didn’t trust his ambassadors around the world. For such a task he would have sent one of his sons. On the other hand, we knew the reason of the journey of Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See, Wissam Al Zahawie. He had to identify an African country ready to accept the storage of the regime’s hazardous toxic waste, in exchange for money. In fact Namibia, which had been used as a dumping ground by Iraq, had told Baghdad they couldn’t go on contaminating their soil. I told the CIA the results of our mission in Niger. The Americans seemed very disappointed for what they had to hear. [emphasis mine]