Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney1 were either gullible, or duplicitous. Or perhaps both. No matter, they are war criminals now. How many civilian deaths resulted from this little fiction? 100,000? 1,000,000? more? Plus the lives of soldiers, and the near bankruptcy of the United States!
The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.
“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”
The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.
The careers of both men were seriously damaged by their use of Janabi’s claims, which he now says could have been – and were – discredited well before Powell’s landmark speech to the UN on 5 February 2003.
(click here to continue reading Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war | World news | The Guardian.)
The strange case of “Curveball” has become one of the most infamous episodes in the Bush administration’s case for war. Mr. Janabi’s claim about the mobile laboratories was featured prominently in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s address to the United Nations in February 2003, when he laid out the administration’s case that Mr. Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
The United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, and eventually determined that Iraq did not have any such weapons. It later became clear that the Bush administration had relied heavily on bogus information from unreliable exiles like Mr. Janabi.
Even before the invasion, there was strong evidence that Mr. Janabi was an unreliable source, evidence which critics now say the Bush White House and the C.I.A.’s top leadership ignored.
Mr. Janabi, who defected to Germany in the 1990s, met repeatedly with German intelligence officials beginning in 2000. They refused to allow C.I.A. officials to meet directly with him, instead providing the Americans only with reports of what he had said.
Eventually, though, the Germans grew doubtful of their informer and passed on their suspicions to American intelligence officials.
(click here to continue reading Iraq Bioweapons Claim a Lie, ‘Curveball’ Says – NYTimes.com.)
Each piece of evidence, whatever its source, was first subjected to rigorous cross-checking before inclusion in overall analyses. All sources of intelligence suffered from particular deficits: Iraq knew that its signals were monitored and thus limited its communications traffic; it also hid any WMD activity under roofs in military and civilian sites, thereby limiting the value of overhead reconnaissance. So, all evidence had to be tested by the simple method of seeking corroboration from other sources. This method was used across Whitehall, and in the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office in particular, and was the basis for the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments of the WMD threat, several of which I contributed to. In the years I worked on the subject (1997-2002), the picture produced by this method was very clear: there was no credible evidence of substantial stocks of WMD in Iraq.
And it was this method – clearly – that was abandoned in advance of the war. Instead of a careful cross-checking of evidence, reports that suited the story of an imminent Iraqi threat were picked out, polished and formed the basis of public claims like Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN security council, or the No 10 dossier. This was exactly how a false case for war was constructed: not by the deliberate creation of a falsehood, but by willfully and secretly manipulating the evidence to exaggerate the importance of reports like Curveball’s, and to ignore contradictory evidence. This was a subtle process, elaborated from report to report, in such a way that allowed officials themselves to believe that they were not deliberately lying – more editing, perhaps, or simplifying for public presentation.
(click here to continue reading Curveball and the manufacture of a lie | Carne Ross | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.)Footnotes:
- and their little hand puppet, George W. Bush [↩]