Earning a few more chutzpah points (after extending a giant middle finger to Fitzgerald, not to mention the civilized portion of the planet's population, with the promotion of David "Torture Memo" Addington and John "Yeah Let's Get Wislon" Hannah to replace the two positions formerly filled by mini-me Libby) the Cheney administration decided it was time to wheel Stephen Hadley out of the wings to talk some fer'n policy. And, fortuitously, it did so just as two stories began to peek out of the water: (1) the Niger-forgeries caper and Mr. Hadley's eyeball-deep involvement therein; and (2) the Cheney Administration's Own Private Gulag Archipelago.
Without plumbing what Jack Shaefer aptly calls the "deep weeds" of the Niger forgery story (aka "The Italian Job"), suffice to say that Hadley's Sept. 9, 2002 meeting with Italian intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari is an awfully big co-ink-ee-dink, given (a) the Sept. 8, 2002 launch of the White House Iraq Group's grand bamboozlement campaign (aka Project Silver-Bullet-Smoking-Gun-Mushroom-Cloud), a major feature of which was the notion that Iraq was on the brink of fetching tons of yellowcake uranium, (b) the U.S.'s prior receipt, confirmed by even the Silberman whitewash report, of verbatim transcriptions of the Niger forgeries from Itallian intelligence sources, and (c) the subsequent transmission of the forgeries themselves from the U.S. Embassy in Rome to Washington (perhaps directly to the White House), by way of an Italian journalist working for Berlusconi's paper Panorama. (Confused yet? That's just the very tips of the weeds peeking out amid the pond scum.)
It looks as though there's just too much confirmation out there that Hadley had the meeting for there to be a denial. That's OK, Hadley was prepared with the greatest of talking points: I don't really remember much of anything that did occur at that meeting, but I do recall very clearly what didn't happen at that meeting--viz., that I didn't get no dodgy documents handed to me. (As Josh Marshall astutely points out, no-one was actually making the allegation that Pollari passed Hadley the docs at that point; we all know the documents came over later. There's a a way to describe a person who gives an impromptu denial of a damning allegation that hasn't been made. What is it? Oh, yeah: GUILTY.)
Continuing this theme, Hadley then goes on to field a question about the CIA "black sites" in which he says, basically, 'We're not saying those facilities exist, but we don't mistreat anyone in those facilities if they did exist, which we're not confirming, ok?"
This would be hilarious, except for the fact that our country has set up secret prisons around the globe and is doing unspeakable things to people in them.