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What's on the show Friday

Bon giorno, ragazzie!  It's time for the second installment of "The Italian Connection."

As usual, the MSM gets onto these things long after the bloggers have cracked the case, but better late than never.  Today, The New York Times reported that the source of the forged documents which were used as bogus evidence that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium in Niger was an Italian spy named Rocco Martino.

Martino was apparently a freelancer who bounced around between the French and Italians.  In a closed door session yesterday in Italian Parliament, the head of Italian intelligence said the Martino acted alone and was not in any official capacity.  In other words, Italy didn't give the U.S. the documents.

The FBI has now closed the investigation into the source of the documents, satisfied that Martino's their guy and that the Italians were in no way attempting to influence policy by providing bogus intel.

And yesterday an Italian lawmaker spoke to reporters, claiming that Italian officials had warned the United States that documents were bogus--before Bush made the infamous 2003 State of the Union Address in which he cited that bogus intelligence as a justification that Iraq was a threat to U.S. security.

While this is all fascinating, I have one question of my own, and then I'll share some great ones from the blogs.  This is significant news.  The source of the documents has been revealed--the answer to the million dollar question, in essence.  Why did The New York Times bury this on the bottom of page A24 today?  Makes you wonder.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has loads to say on the story.  He raises a good question:  If the Italians warned the U.S. in 2003, who did they warn?  Obviously that info didn't make it high enough soon enough, capice?

And a blogger at Centerfield says this is worse than Rathergate.  If Dan Rather lost his job over a bogus National Guard document, we should investigate the Hell out of this and find out who in the Bush administration handled those forgeries and helped to get them into the President's hands.

But not everyone is buying the Italian line today.  At War and Piece, some provocative points.  If the Italians had no official possession of these documents and Martino acted alone, then how could they warn the U.S. that the documents were forged?  It's tough to verify the authenticity of something you have never seen.  And the President never hung this intelligence on Italy in the first place.  He said it came from Britain. 

So where did the Brits get it?

Well, Juan Cole has been on this for over a year.  As a matter of fact, I found an entry on his blog from 2004 in which he said Martino was the source.  He also cited some European intelligence experts who believed that Martino sold the documents to the French.  The French deny the claim, but if that is true could they have passed it on to the British?  Boy for a fake document on an obscure topic those papers got some play.

And finally, if the Italians knew the intelligence on WMD procurement in Iraq was all bogus, why did Berlusconi offer support to the United States in the Iraq war?  This is certain to be a question in his upcoming April re-election bid.

Today on the show: 

We're going to take a look at dirty politics.  In New Jersey as the gubernatorial race heats up, Doug Forrester has solicited the help of Jon Corzine's ex-wife to bash his personal character in an attack ad.  Nice.  We'll also take a look at race in politics.  Black conservatives take a lot of heat from liberals.  In Maryland, for example, black Republican Michael Steele is running for Senate and has actually been pelted with Oreo's by hostile critics.  Again, nice.  What's wrong with people?

And speaking of race and politics, that funeral for Rosa Parks was a marathon clocking in at somewhere around 7 hours.  Why?  Because it seemed like everyone ever elected to office needed to give their two cents about that great lady.  Were politicians grandstanding, taking a moment which was meant to honor a modest woman and turning into a political opportunity?  We'll discuss.

Later, a new dress code has some NBA players hopping mad. 

Join us.

Talking Points Memo
War and Piece
Juan Cole