More from la Repubblica

by Henry Farrell on October 26, 2005

_La Repubblica_ has another “story”: today on the role of Italian intelligence in feeding bogus evidence on Niger to Hadley and others in the US and elsewhere. There’s one key piece of new information. UK intelligence claimed to have evidence independent of the forged documents, which showed that Iraq had indeed been trying to obtain uranium in Niger. According to _La Repubblica_:

bq. This “evidence” has never been brought forward … “If it ever were brought forward,” said a source in Forte Braschi to _la Repubblica_, with a smile, “it would be discovered, with red faces, that it was Italian intelligence collected by SISMI at the end of the 1980’s, and shared with our friend Hamilton McMillan.”

As best as I can piece this together, the timeline that _La Repubblica_ is arguing for goes as follows. Italian intelligence collected [genuine] information that Hussein was trying to obtain raw uranium at the end of the 1980’s, before the First Gulf War. This information was stored by the branch of Italian intelligence dealing with weapon proliferation issues. When the invasion of Iraq was imminent, this information was brought out from the archives, and bundled together with fake documents in order to make the latter look more legitimate. This dossier was then circulated to UK and US intelligence. The latter didn’t bite at first, causing the director of Italian intelligence to use back channels to Hadley and to Wolfowitz via Ledeen. UK intelligence did bite, either then or later. UK intelligence later claimed that it had a source of intelligence independent from the faked documents saying that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium. However, according to _La Repubblica_ the ‘independent’ source was also from Italian intelligence, and related to efforts by Hussein’s regime to obtain uranium _in the 1980’s_. Hence, it was for all intents and purposes irrelevant to the question of whether Hussein was trying to obtain uranium in post-sanctions Iraq.

Again, this should be taken with a considerable pinch of salt, until and unless there’s independent confirmation. There’s clearly a backstory to this – someone in Italian intelligence with his own agenda is leaking like crazy. There’s a word in Italian – _dietrologia_ – for the science of shadowy manipulations in the background which never come to light – it’s a national pastime. But it raises some troubling issues – and not only for US politics. At key points, the _La Repubblica_ narrative contradicts the claims made in the Butler Report. What did UK intelligence ‘know’ about Niger, and when did they know it?

Small-World Affiliation Networks

by Kieran Healy on October 26, 2005

Speaking of “website gadgets”:, yesterday I tried out “Library Thing”:, a service that lets you catalog your books online. Think of it as “Flickr”: for your books. About 70 percent of the books in my office are already in a “Delicious Library”: catalog, which Library Thing can import, so I uploaded the lot. Like Delicious Library, the most obviously useful feature of a catalog is as yet unavailable — namely, the ability to do a full-text search on the books you own. Something like Amazon’s Search Inside. Maybe in the future there will be a way for applications like this to talk to Search Inside or “Google Print”:

In the meantime, Library Thing lets you explore an affiliation network. You’re tied to other users through ownership of the same books, and in your “profile”: you can see who overlap the most with. It turns out that the user I’m closest to none other than “Chris Brooke”:, of the Virtual Stoa. “He”: and I share 38 titles. This may partly be a size effect, as Chris has more than three times as many books cataloged as I do. But it may also index up our relative closeness in “Blau Space”: Further evidence of affinity in tastes comes from the fact that “Chris’s photo”: and “mine”: come from the “same source”:

Map of CT readers

by Eszter Hargittai on October 26, 2005

Some things I only post on my own blog thinking that they probably have limited appeal. However, now that this has been picked up by several others I’m thinking that perhaps it’s worth a CT mention.

Frappr uses Google Maps to present the locations of people who share some type of affiliation. Frappr maps can have whatever theme you choose. I created one for Crooked Timber readers. You can add your own location (with or without photo plus a short message). Despite what it may seem like at first, non-U.S. locations are supported as well.

So far I’m the only one on the map. I’m heading to bed now. It would be cool to have the map populated with all sorts of CT readers (and writers:) by the time I wake up.

UPDATE: Thanks for the many additions, keep on pushing those pins onto the map! A few logistical notes: If you’re not in the US then be sure to click on “Not in the US? Click Here” below the “Zipcode” field. You will then have to enter both city and country. (And yes, it does hte curious thing of assuming that your city is in a county with the same name even if it isn’t (e.g. Budapest, Budapest, Hungary), but so it is.) Although it looks like you are required to leave a Shoutout, try leaving some spaces or a hyphen if you’re not inspired to leave a message. That should work.