THE ITALIAN LETTER Published by Rodale

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How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq By Peter Eisner and Knut Royce "It's the best account so far of one of the enduring mysteries of the Bush White House and its race to sell the Iraq war to the American public. It's not just about the 16 words. Everything that would go wrong is telegraphed in this incident." - Seymour Hersh, author of Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib The Italian Letter conveys "...the duplicity, subterfuge, propaganda, and outright lies that helped sell many Americans on the need to invade Iraq. Read the book and weep for our democracy." - Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2002-05



It was 3 a.m. in Italy on Jan. 29, 2003, when President Bush in Washington began reading his State of the Union address that included the now famous -- later retracted -- 16 words:

In a front page story reported in today's Washington Post author Peter Eisner says, "It was 3 a.m. in Italy on Jan. 29, 2003, when President Bush in Washington began reading his State of the Union address that included the now famous -- later retracted -- 16 words: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The uranium claim would become a crucial justification for the invasion of Iraq that began less than two months later. When occupying troops found no nuclear program, the 16 words and how they came to be in the speech became a focus for critics in Washington and foreign capitals to press the case that the White House manipulated facts to take the United States to war. Dozens of interviews with current and former intelligence officials and policymakers in the United States, Britain, France and Italy show that the Bush administration disregarded key information available at the time showing that the Iraq-Niger claim was highly questionable. In February 2002, the CIA received the verbatim text of one of the documents, filled with errors easily identifiable through a simple Internet search, the interviews show. Many low- and mid-level intelligence officials were already skeptical that Iraq was in pursuit of nuclear weapons." The excerpt is from THE ITALIAN LETTER by Peter Eisner and Knut Royce which Rodale Books published today.

Filled with headline-making discoveries and never-before told findings, THE ITALIAN LETTER: How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for the War in Iraq (April 3, 2007, Rodale, $24.95) offers the definitive examination of the facts behind the forged intelligence document used by the Bush administration as a basis for going to war with Iraq. Award-winning investigative journalists Peter Eisner and Knut Royce now provide the first book to uncover the details of the intelligence corruption that altered the course of contemporary history and the role of the United States in world politics.

The Italian letter, a fraudulent intelligence document that provided evidence that the African country of Niger was prepared to supply Iraq with 500 tons of uranium for nuclear weapons, first surfaced in Rome in a dossier of forged documents in the fall of 2001. It made its way to the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the White House, including Vice President Cheney and President Bush, and eventually the American public via the President's January 28, 2003 State of the Union address, where George Bush said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The Italian letter and the "16 words" derived from it became a critical vehicle that the Bush Administration used to convince Congress and America that Saddam Hussein was seeking materials to make a nuclear bomb.

Throughout their investigation, reporters Eisner and Royce sought out dozens of current and former intelligence officials, as well as policymakers in the United States, Britain, Italy and France, many of whom were willing to speak on the record about the conversations, documents and directives they witnessed or were privy to.

THE ITALIAN LETTER examines the following questions:

-- Why did the CIA forgo a simple Google search of the initial Italian letter "verbatim text,"which would have automatically discredited the forged document upon arrival?

-- How did knowingly false intelligence move so high up the political food chain?

-- Did Bush, Cheney or their aides knowingly use false information to lead the nation into war?

-- Why did the Bush administration order American intelligence to spy on U.N. inspectors who were unable to confirm U.S. claims that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program?

-- Why did the Bush White House alter the CIA vetting process, leading to inclusion of the "16 words"in the State of the Union address?

-- Why did a top CIA official, Alan Foley, promote the issue of Iraqi weapons, when he told friends in private that he doubted any would be found after the invasion?

-- Why to this day does Cheney still believe there are Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?

Like Barbara Tuchman's 1958 classic, The Zimmerman Telegram, about the decoded German wire that drew the United States into World War I, or Michael Gordon's recent bestseller Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, THE ITALIAN LETTER traces the road to war by following the scandal surrounding the initial pieces of intelligence.

As frustration over the increasing death toll in Iraq continues to grow, with no successful exit strategy in sight, this timely, page-turning narrative looks to answer these questions while providing important insights for a nation hungry for greater understanding of the Iraq War and the manipulated intelligence document behind it.


PETER EISNER is a veteran foreign correspondent, now an editor at the Washington Post. The Post's coverage of the 2004 Asian tsunami, which he coordinated, won an award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He is also author of The Freedom Line, a winner of the 2004 Christopher Award. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

KNUT ROYCE was a major contributor to three Pulitzer Prize-winning stories in three different decades as national security correspondent for Newsday's Washington bureau. He has won numerous journalism awards and was named by the Washingtonian as one of the two best investigative print reporters in the nation's capital. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

About Rodale Inc.

Rodale Inc., which was recognized by the trade publication Advertising Age as Publishing Company of the Year for 2006, is the authoritative source for trusted content in health, fitness and wellness around the world, reaching nearly 40 million people each month. The company publishes some of the best-known health and wellness lifestyle magazines, including Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health, Runner's World, Best Life, Bicycling, Backpacker, Mountain Bike and Organic Gardening, and is also the largest independent book publisher in America with a collection of international titles, including The South Beach Diet and The Abs Diet franchises, and most recently Al Gore's New York Times bestseller An Inconvenient Truth. Rodale's broad range of media platforms includes magazines, books, videos and extensive Web sites. The company is also a leader in direct-response marketing and has more than 26 million active customers in its database.


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