OK, it's time to come clean.
I forged the documents claiming that Iraq was attempting to buy uranium from Niger.
What can I say? It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back in 2002, two things about the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq were becoming clear: 1) they were determined to do this regardless of whether they had a plausible cassus belli; and 2) they didn't have a plausible cassus belli.
Here's where my thinking perhaps led me astray. I figured in the long-term interest of preserving the rule of law, that it was better to create an illusion — OK, a lie — that the rules were being followed than to simply declare that the rules no longer applied.
This is actually a time-honored tradition. If a great power really wants to go to war but doesn't have a legitimate pretext for that war, the conventional approach has been to create such a pretext. Manufacture an incident.
Think of the Gulf of Tonkin or the sinking of The Maine. Sure, these were dishonest pieces of propaganda, but "hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." Better to be a hypocrite than a nihilist. Better to pretend to follow the rules, even while breaking them, than to declare oneself above the rule of law.
Once I realized that the Bush administration might not even bother to create a disingenuous facade of legitimacy, I took matters into my own hands. I forged the Niger documents.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more careful to get the details right. But I was kind of in a hurry. The clerk at Kinkos was looking at me funny, and Microsoft Paint kept crashing, and anyway I always get really nervous when I'm breaking national and international laws in order to create a false pretext for a war that's likely to get thousands of people killed and create an ongoing and perhaps insoluble new Gaza on the Tigris.
So, yeah, I wasn't sure that I had the dates or the officials' names right, but I figured that wouldn't really matter. And it didn't, did it?
I worried for a while that I might someday get in trouble over all this. But it turns out that no one — not the government who exploited my handiwork, nor the journalists who were conned by it — really seems interested in figuring out who created these hasty forgeries. The Brits have even convinced themselves that my forgeries had nothing to do with their conclusions, which were instead based on French and Italian summaries of my forgeries. Or something like that.
Looking back, I do wonder if maybe this wasn't such a hot idea. But for what it's worth, I take full responsibility. (In the Blair/Rumsfeld sense of "full responsibility" — the kind of full responsibility that doesn't entail any unpleasant consequences or actual accountability.)
I promise I won't do it again.