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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Rome Knew in 2003 that there were no weapons or so claim Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe D’Avanzo in La Republica

Last night I translated the prequel to this article. Today I felt like a fool to have wasted my time, but I can't resist that headline.

Roma sapeva dal 2003
che non c'erano armi
I servizi erano al corrente che l'Iraq non aveva super armi
In campo con l'intelligence così l'Italia entrò in guerra

This time, however, I took the precaution of reading the article before beginning to tranlsate it. As I should have guessed of the fifth article in a series, there is a lot less in the article than is promised by the headline. In this case, there is no source within the Italian state or the Bush administration who supports the claim of the headline writer. The only support for the headline in the actual article is the Bonini and D'Avanzo's observation that their anonymous source did *not* say that Italian intelligence knew there were no WMD "Quel che il "funzionario della presidenza del Consiglio" non dice né può dire è che la nostra intelligence e quindi il governo italiano (come l'Iraqi National Congress e quindi il Pentagono) sanno con certezza per lo meno dal gennaio 2003 e (con molte probabilità, dal dicembre del 2002) che, negli arsenali di Saddam Hussein, non ci sono armi di distruzione di massa."
I will translate that
"That which the functionary of the Prime ministers office doesn't say and is not allowed to say is that our intelligence agencies and therefore the Berlusconi government (like the INC and therefore the Pentagon) know with certainty at least by January 2003 (and probably by December 2002) that, in Sadams Hussein's arsenal, there are no Weapons of mass distruction."
In other words, Bonini and D'Avanzo claim that the Pentagon and the Italian government knew that there were no WMD but don't present any evidence to support that claim in this article (or the preceding 4).

Later they quote the General Fabio Mini author of "The War After the War" which was published in 2003. I think they are actually quoting from a book which is a year and a half old. Mini argues that coalition forces would have taken more precautions if the generals weren't sure that there were no WMD. As quoted, Mini doesn't claim to have access to any information available to the public, so his opinions are not news and weren't news when the book was published.
The headline is based on an unsupported claim of the reporters. The substance of the article is that, as reported in the previous article, SISMI actively participated in the invasion sending agents into Iraq. Therefore Italy's occassional claim to have been neutral is false. Bonini and D'Avanzo note that Berlusconi boasted about the Italian war efforts before he denied that they occured. They also note that such actions were not authorised by Parliament and are inconsistent with the nice clause in the Italian constitution which says roughly "Italy rejects war as a means to settle conflicts between countries".

Update: A possible explanation of the strong completely unsourced claim that Italy knew that the dossier was forged just appeared on the AP wire today
Italian secret services warned the United States months before it invaded Iraq that a dossier about a purported Saddam Hussein effort to buy uranium in Africa was fake, a lawmaker said Thursday after a briefing by the nation's intelligence chief.

via Josh Marshall who comments.

The nation's intelligence chief has been talking to Bonini and D'Avanzo. He might have made the same claim to them that he made to the parliamentary committee, but said it was on triple super secret background so they could repeat the claim but not source it at all. Thus I think the article I criticize above may illustrate a whole new level of off the recordness. Of course it is also possible, as I suspected yesterday, that Bonini and D'Avanzo are sure SISMI knew because the forgery was obvious and didn't feel the need for a source on, off, off off or off off off the record.

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