July 15? The most sophisticated intelligence operation in the world was fooled by a low-level diplomat from Africa, intelligence sources told ABCNEWS.
For nearly a week, the Bush administration has been trying to explain how it came to pass that President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, erroneously claimed that Saddam Hussein was trying to get uranium in Africa.
The president said Monday the main thrust of his case for the Iraq war is, and was, accurate. "The speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence," he said. "And I am absolutely convinced today, like I was convinced when I gave the speeches, that Saddam Hussein developed a program of weapons of mass destruction."
President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein's seeking uranium from Africa was just one part of his case for war, albeit a very important one.
However, the intelligence debacle grew out of a scam when an underpaid African diplomat who was stationed in Rome created bogus documents, which he then sold to the Italian secret service, sources said.
The Italians officially deny the sale, but intelligence sources told ABCNEWS the fake documents were produced in late 2001 in Rome, in a building that houses the tiny embassy of Niger.