As Eric Lichtblau explains, there is not a lot of news here; the memo was described thusly in the 2004 SSCI report:
(U) On March 1, 2002, INR published an intelligence assessment, Niger: Sale of Uranium to Iraq Is Unlikely. The INR analyst who drafted the assessment told Committee staff that he had been told that the piece was in response to interest from the Vice President's office in the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal. The assessment reiterated INR's view that France controlled the uranium industry and "would take action to block a sale of the kind alleged in a CIA report of questionable credibility from a foreign government service." The assessment added that "some officials may have conspired for individual gain to arrange a uranium sale," but considered President Tandja's government unlikely to risk relations with the U.S. and other key aid donors. In a written response to a question from Committee staff on this matter, the Department of State said the assessment was distributed through the routine distribution process in which intelligence documents are delivered to the White House situation room, but State did not provide the assessment directly to the Vice President in a special delivery.
Ambassador Joe Wilson manages to overcome his publicity shyness long enough to deliver the following quip to the Times:
Mr. Wilson said in an interview that he did not remember ever seeing the memo but that its analysis should raise further questions about why the White House remained convinced for so long that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa.
"All the people understood that there was documentary evidence" suggesting that the intelligence about the sale was faulty, he said.
"All the people"? Perhaps the Ambassador could check whether his wife is available to explain the CIA position, which, per the SSCI report, was at odds with that of the INR:
Throughout the time the Niger reports were being disseminated, the CIA Iraq nuclear analyst said he had discussed the issue with his INR colleague and was aware that INR disagreed with the CIA's position. He said they discussed Niger's uranium production rates and whether Niger could have been diverting any yellowcake. He said that he and his INR counterpart essentially "agreed to disagree" about whether Niger could supply uranium to Iraq.
The CIA analyst said he assessed at the time that the intelligence showed both that Iraq may have been trying to procure uranium in Africa and that it was possible Niger could supply it. He said his assessment was bolstered by several other intelligence reports on Iraqi interest in uranium from other countries in Africa.
Oh, well. This article does remind me of another point I belabored relating to Mr. Wilson and the outing of his wife - the INR had been at loggerheads with the CIA about Saddam's nuclear capabilities in the run-up to the war. In addition to any normal sense of "we were right, they were wrong" that might have prompted a bit of chest-thumping at the INR in June of 2003, the senior officials at State had other reasons for pique - the INR dissent to the CIA / DIA position was mis-placed in the wrong section of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, and Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations, with George Tenet famously in attendance, did not exactly hold up well to subsequent discoveries.
So might some senior State Dept. folks have been inclined to take a few shots at the CIA as the Niger-uranium story unfolded in June and July of 2003?
Per the SSCI, the CIA initiated the Wilson trip and the INR thought it would be an inconclusive waste of time. Might folks at State have belittled the Wilson trip to Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus, Nick Kristof, Andrea Mitchell, or other reporters? Might they have also mentioned that the time-waster was set up by the wife of the guy who brought back the report the CIA was using to promote their position?
I continue to believe it is highly likely. But someone would have to ask these reporters (and get an answer) for the public to find out.
MORE: The Financial Times had a boost for the CIA side - per their account, Libya had more uranium than was accounted for in Niger's official records; black market production at closed mines is the theory on offer. That said, I cannot find the IAEA report to which this June 2004 article refers.