Who Is Going to Ask Berlusconi About Forged Niger Documents?

When the Italian Prime Minister visits the White House tomorrow, who will be asking about the white elephant in the room? Which reporter will ask about Italy's unique contribution to the rush to war?

In the report that my Judiciary Committee staff completed late last year, The Constitution in Crisis, we found that, "shortly after September 11, 2001, U.S. and British governments received, at the behest of the Italian Premier, information from Italy's Military and Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) suggesting that an Iraqi Ambassador had sought to acquire uranium from Niger."

It was also reported by the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that General Pollari, chief of SISMI, had knowingly provided the United States and Britain with forged documents. The New York Times reported that "General Pollari had acted at the behest of Mr. Berlusconi, who was said to be eager to help President Bush in the search for weapons in Iraq." So flimsy was this evidence that Jacques Baute, Deputy Director of the International Atomic Energy Administration, found that a 2-hour search on could turn up enough information to discredit these "clumsy forgeries."

There are few issues involving our two countries that are more deserving of press scrutiny than this forgery that led us to war. Let's hope that tomorrow the White House press corps isn't afraid to pursue this critical issue.