The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Burba/Berlusconi role in Iraq war?

Roman scandal
Bogus evidence from a bogus reporter
By Michael Young

It was with perverse pleasure that I learned over the weekend that an
Italian journalist named Elisabetta Burba had admitted to turning over
counterfeit documents to the US embassy in Rome last year suggesting that
Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Niger.

It was based on these that President George W. Bush made his faulty
allegation in his 2003 State of the Union address about Iraq's nuclear
weapons capability.

According to wire reports, Burba, who works for the Silvio Berlusconi-owned
magazine Panorama, received the documents from a source who "in the past
proved to be reliable," and whose identity Burba did not disclose.

She told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published
Saturday: "I realized that this could be a worldwide scoop, but that's
exactly why I was very worried."

Burba went on to tell the newspaper that she traveled to Niger to verify the
authenticity of the documents. She said she "was suspicious because the
documents spoke of such a large amount of uranium—500 tons—and were short on
details on how the uranium would be transported and arrangements for final
delivery." Upon returning from her trip, Burba declared that the documents
were probably fake, approving Panorama's decision not to publish them.

BUT THEN WHAT DID THE "WORRIED" BURBA DO? Under normal circumstances she
could have published a story on the documents, asking who was behind the
forgeries; or she could have put the papers through a shredder. Burba did
neither. She took the documents to the US embassy where they were shown to
the CIA, sent to the State Department in Washington, and later used as
evidence for President Bush's claim.

Despite the fact that she and Panorama considered the Niger documents
forgeries, Burba still handed them over to the Americans and then avoided
mentioning the story when Bush made use of her material.


More bluntly, Burba provided forgeries to the Americans, kept quiet later on
when she knew the Bush administration was using the documents to
substantiate a falsehood, and is today trying to cover up the whole thing by
claiming that she always doubted the Niger documents were real anyway.
That's not shoddy journalism; that's Nixonian deceptiveness.

Observers will surely bring up the Berlusconi link to ask whether Panorama
was doing the bidding of the Italian prime minister, its owner, when it gave
the US administration evidence it was happy to later manipulate. Up to now
there is no evidence of this. However, Burba's behavior hardly enhances the
magazine's credibility or an impression that it is politically independent.


Michael Young a Reason contributing editor, writes from Lebanon. This story
originally appeared in the Beirut Daily Star. His weblog can be read at

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]