The Italian Letter
How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq
Timely and revealing, The Italian Letter provides explosive, historic insights for a greater understanding of the Iraq War and how the United States got there.
More than a decade after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this investigative report on the Bush administration's march toward war is more relevant than ever. Timely and revealing, The Italian Letter provides explosive, historic insights for a greater understanding of the Iraq War and how the United States got there. This exclusive edition is updated to reflect the most recent developments.
The so-called Italian letter is a package of allegedly forged documents that seem to be based on articles stolen from the Nigerian embassy in Rome in 2001. The document was nonetheless adopted by the Bush administration as a basis for going to war with Iraq, even though the letter has been widely dismissed by a variety of key players in the U.S. Intelligence Community years before President Bush cited it in his 2003 State of the Union speech.
There are few true stories with as much drama, intrigue, and mystery as that of the Italian Letter. Known all along by many in the U.S. intelligence community to have been a forgery, the Bush administration adopted the Italian Letter as a basis for going to war, making it the justification behind the rally for war.
With unparalleled reporting skills and harrowing analysis, the authors, Eisner, a veteran editor with the Washington Post and Newsday, and Royce, a legendary, Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter in Washington—have produced a groundbreaking, riveting work.
The Italian Letter takes readers from Italy, to Niger, to Iraq and into the Washington offices of the National Security Agency, The Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and inside the White House itself, demonstrating that this was not a case of finding out too late that certain intelligence information was faulty. Rather, with calculation and single-minded purpose, the Bush administration used information it knew was questionable to convince Congress and the American public that Saddam Hussein was seeking materials to make a nuclear bomb.
The book, wrote Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, 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.”
Co-author Knut Royce, a legendary investigative reporter, was a major contributor to three Pulitzer Prize–winning stories in three different decades at Newsday and also served as as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Integrity. 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.
“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, veteran investigative journalist, winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer and Polk award, author of Chain of Command: The Road form 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
“The Italian Letter is my choice for a brilliantly researched, jaw-dropping book that ought to be on every politician’s reading list this week.”
—Laurie Garrett, author, journalist, winner of the Pulitzer and Polk prizes
“This book is a much-needed and thorough investigation of this important subject by two well-known and well-thought-of journalists.”
—W. Patrick Lang, retired army colonel and former Defense intelligence officer; former senior adviser to Dick Cheney
The Italian Letter “focuses principally on President Bush’s infamous 16 words in his January 2003 State of the Union address and how those words, clearly fallacious, were derived and then managed to stay in the speech. But the book conveys much more—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, 2002–03