The Story that Didn't
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Wednesday 22 September 2004
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Here's the piece that '60 Minutes' killed for its report on the Bush Guard documents.
In its rush to air its now discredited story about President George W. Bush's National Guard service, CBS bumped another sensitive piece slated for the same ''60 Minutes'' broadcast: a half-hour segment about how the U.S. government was snookered by forged documents purporting to show Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium from Niger.
The journalistic juggling at CBS provides an ironic counterpoint to the furor over apparently bogus documents involving Bush's National Guard service. One unexpected consequence of the network's decision was to wipe out a chance-at least for the moment-for greater public scrutiny of a more consequential forgery that played a role in building the Bush administration's case to invade Iraq.
A team of "60 Minutes" correspondents and consulting reporters spent more than six months investigating the Niger uranium documents fraud, CBS sources tell Newsweek. The group landed the first ever on-camera interview with Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist who first obtained the phony documents, as well as her elusive source, Rocco Martino, a mysterious Roman businessman with longstanding ties to European intelligence agencies.
"This is like living in a Kafka novel," said Joshua Micah Marshall, a Washington Monthly contributing writer and a Web blogger who had been collaborating with "60 Minutes" producers on the uranium story. "Here we had a very important, well-reported story about forged documents that helped lead the country to war. And then it gets bumped by another story that relied on forged documents."
CBS Cancels '60 Minutes' Story on Rationale for War
The Associated Press
Saturday 25 September 2004