Deja Vu all over again
Here is my suspicion: the whole Niger story may have been crafted to shore up the backbones of fence-sitting lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. Pro-war boosters would go around into private meetings with the wafflers and flash this information before them and then say, "Do you want to vote no on this and then suffer the consequences if this report turns out to be true?" This eerily reminds me of the kind of arm-twisting that Tom Delay did prior to the impeachment vote in the House back in 1999. There were several stories about lawmakers being taken to a special room in the capital in which they were shown extremely nasty evidence against Clinton and then asked, "Do you want to vote no on impeachment and then have to explain your vote after this information comes out?" It appears to have worked both times. The mistake they made this time was in using the Niger story in the State of the Union speech. If they had just kept it as a behind the scenes arm twister they would be in a lot less trouble. Even after it turned out to be false no lawmaker would take them to task for it because they wouldn't want to admit that they might have been persuaded by questionable evidence. The whole thing would have been buried and no one would have been the wiser.