Craig Unger over at Vanity Fair has written an amazing article on the successful lies and "black ops" that led to the Iraq War. The article details the labyrinthine web of connections through elements of Italy's intelligence community all the way to the White House. Sample text:
For more than two years it has been widely reported that the U.S. invaded Iraq because of intelligence failures. But in fact it is far more likely that the Iraq war started because of an extraordinary intelligence success—specifically, an astoundingly effective campaign of disinformation, or black propaganda, which led the White House, the Pentagon, Britain's M.I.6 intelligence service, and thousands of outlets in the American media to promote the falsehood that Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program posed a grave risk to the United States.
The Bush administration made other false charges about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.)—that Iraq had acquired aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges, that Saddam was in league with al-Qaeda, that he had mobile weapons labs, and so forth. But the Niger claim, unlike other allegations, can't be dismissed as an innocent error or blamed on ambiguous data. "This wasn't an accident," says Milt Bearden, a 30-year C.I.A. veteran who was a station chief in Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, and Germany, and the head of the Soviet–East European division. "This wasn't 15 monkeys in a room with typewriters."
Link via Glenn Greenwald's excellent Unclaimed Territory blog, which pointed me to journalist David Neiwert's superb post on his Orcinus blog. Neiwert sums up the Vanity Fair article better than I do; it's a good place to start.