Thursday, November 03, 2005

Stephen Hadley on the Forged Documents

Excerpts From Stephen Hadley’s Press Briefing, 11/2/05

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

HADLEY: Can you limit it to one follow-up, because I want to try and get — I’d like to get through everybody if I could. It would be a first.

QUESTION: On September 9th, 2002, you met in Washington with Niccolo Polari, the head of the Italian intelligence agency SISMI. According to the Italian daily, La Repubblica, Mr. Polari came to the meeting to discuss and alleged attempt by Iraq to purchase uranium from Niger.
Is that claim false?

HADLEY: We’ve looked at this issue. We have both looked at our documentary record. I have searched my own recollection. We have also talked to other people on the NSC staff at the time who might have a recollection of that meeting.

I can tell you what that canvassing has unearthed. There was a meeting in Washington on that date. I did attend a meeting with him. It was, so far as we can tell from our records, about less than 15 minutes. It was a courtesy call.
Nobody participating in that meeting or asked about that meeting has any recollection of a discussion of natural uranium or any recollection of any documents being passed. And that’s also my recollection. I have very little recollection of the meeting, but I have no recollection there was any of that discussion or that there was any passing of documents — nor does anybody else who may have participated in that meeting. That’s where we are.

QUESTION: Can you say what you did discuss with Mr. Polari?

HADLEY: I told you, I have very little recollection of the meeting. And it was in the order of a courtesy call, getting to know a person who was going to be a colleague going forward.

And you can tell that from the relative briefness of the meeting. And I think what the Italian authorities have said is very consistent with what I just said.


QUESTION: Have you or any member of your staff met with Italian intelligence officials elsewhere, outside the White House or any other time when the question of Niger and uranium was discussed?

QUESTION: And if not, can you us how the fake documents came into the possession of the U.S.?

HADLEY: I would obviously in answering a question like that want to check records and all the rest. I can tell you my recollection. My recollection is no, not here, not anyplace else.

I asked that question on the documents to refresh my own recollection. My understanding is that they came to the State Department after the NIE of October 2002. But, again, I don’t want to mislead you. That’s the answer I got from a staff person a few minute ago to refresh my memory.

Suffice to say they didn’t come to me. They didn’t come to the NSC. And we can try and get a more precise answer.
But my understanding is that they came to the State Department. They were then shared with the CIA. And I think it’s pretty much in the public record as to what happened with respect to those documents.

QUESTION: Came via? How did they come to the State Department?

HADLEY: We can try and get you an answer on that. I mean, I think this is actually quite out in the public record, but let me see if we can get an answer for you on that.


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