Don't Get Caught in the Crossfire
Via the eagle-eyed Laura Rozen, we find that Knight-Ridder's crack national security/intelligence agency team, Jonathan Landay and Walter Strobel, have once more landed a dynamite story. Last October when it was clear that the CIA was not happy with the Bush administration's cowardly attempt to blame them for the Intelligence failures (aka: deliberate lies) as well as their traitorous exposure of a deep cover CIA agent, we knew that the administration was taking on a formidable enemy.
Today, in another round of this deadly serious game, a senior U.S. official has exposed exactly who was responsible for arranging a meeting with one of the Iraq defectors supplied by the Iraq National Congress (INC). The senior official provided Landay and Strobel this information by reading to them from a classified Defense Department document. This secret document disclosed that former CIA director, James Woolsey, arranged to have Maj. Mohammed Harith talk with the Department of Defense about Saddam's biological weapons program and noted that Harith was seen to corroborate Curve Ball's explosive charges about Saddam having mobile bio-weapons laboratories.
The report said that on Feb. 11, 2002, Woolsey telephoned Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells about the defector and told him how to contact the man, who'd been produced by an Iraqi exile group eager to oust Saddam. Wells said he passed the information to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Woolsey's previously undisclosed role in the case of Maj. Mohammad Harith casts new light on how prominent invasion advocates outside the government used their ties to senior officials in the Bush administration to help make the case for war.
...Francis Brooke, Washington representative of the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group that produced Harith and other defectors, said intermediaries such as Woolsey and former Pentagon official Richard Perle, another leading war advocate, contacted the Bush administration multiple times on the INC's behalf.
...Wells confirmed details of the report in an e-mail to Knight Ridder.
...In a March 2002 interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes," Harith claimed that he'd purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks for conversion into biological warfare laboratories. In a videotaped interview with INC officials, reported two weeks later by the Sunday Times of London, he said the vehicles were disguised as milk and yogurt trucks.
Just last week, the administration cheered the Senate Intelligence report because it placed the blame for the faulty intelligence on the Intelligence services, and in particular, faulted the CIA for their role in giving the President bad intelligence. The report concluded that the bad intelligence convinced the President that Saddam was an imminent threat and the US had to take him out immediately before he could strike out at the US. (Remember, the war was justified in order to stop an imminent threat and the Bush administration said it was a preemptive war, not a preventive war.)
Newsweek recently reported that the charge about Saddam's mobile biological weapons lab was given by one person (Curve Ball) who was thought to be extremely unreliable and even showed up hungover at the one meeting where he was debriefed. The case officer that debriefed this defector was so worried about the credibility of the claim that when he read Colin Powell's speech and saw that it included information from that defector, he was compelled to write an email to his superiors to try to remove that charge from Powell's speech.
"After reading Powell's speech," the Pentagon intel analyst, naturally, panicked.
He wrote an urgent email to a top CIA official warning that there were even questions about whether Curve Ball "was who he said he was." Could Powell really rely on such an informant as the "backbone" for the U.S. government's claims that Iraq had a continuing biological-weapons program? The CIA official quickly responded: "Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say," he wrote. "The Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interestd in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about."
So Maj. Harith was conveniently hooked up with the DIA after Curve Ball made his charges and then Harith's statement was used to back up the explosive charges made by Curve Ball. Yet, isn't it more likely that Curve Ball was supplied by the INC in order to back up Maj. Harith's claims which were basically the same charges about Saddam's biological weapons programs that he had been selling since his appearance on 60 minutes in March 2002?
Humm.... Harith was exposed as a liar and "fabricator", but after someone in the DIA talked with Curve Ball, Harith's information is considered credible by the DIA.
Here's Slate's take on Harith who was selling his charges about Saddam in 2002:
I write "similar defector," but it's clear that [the March 2002] 60 Minutes' defector is the same guy as [the May 2002] Vanity Fair's. The INC introduced both 60 Minutes' Stahl and Vanity Fair's Rose to an anonymous Iraqi major, and both news organizations interviewed him in early 2002; in both stories, the defector boasts of configuring newly purchased Renault trucks into mobile biological-weapons laboratories to escape inspector detection. (In the 60 Minutes version, the defector purchases seven Renault trucks; in Vanity Fair, eight.) An INC official tells 60 Minutes the defector "worked in a number of jobs, which we deem to be very important within the intelligence service." The Vanity Fair piece describes the defector procuring military goods for Iraqi intelligence. If the defector isn't one guy, he should be on the lookout for his clone.
Here is some further background material from the Senate Intelligence Report.
An assessment by the CIA of the INC defector (aka Major Harith or Hareeth):
In April 2002, the CIA published an assessment of the INC source that stated that DHS had terminated contact with him after four meetings because of suspicions he was a fabricator. In May 2002, DIA issued a "fabrication notice" which said that the information the INC source provided was "assessed as unreliable and, in some instances, pure fabrication."
And on pg 161 in Acrobat, or 151 in the PDF file:
The NIE also noted that another source provided information to the IC on mobile biological research laboratories. The NIE said, "in mid-1996 Iraq decided to establish mobile laboratories for BW agent research to evade UNSCOM inspections, according to xxx (Hahith), an Iraqi defector associated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC)." xxx is hereafter referred to as the INC source. The information provided by the INC source is detailed in a March 2002 Defense HUMINT Service (DHS) intelligence report. The report discussed a project involving several Iraqi ministries, including the Iraqi Intelligence Service, to procure labs that would allow Iraq to conceal "biological research operations" from UNSCOM inspectors. The report noted that the source was "unaware of the exact nature of the research conducted in the labs." This report, which does not discuss mobile BW production, was the only report concerning mobile BW units from this source. In addition to the INC source, the IC provided the Committee seven other reports concerning Iraqi mobile biological laboratories.
None of these reports discussed mobile BW production units.
Later on page 164 in Acrobat, or 154 in PDF document:
The IC provided the Committee with a copy of an evaluation of the intelligence reporting from CURVE BALL that was submitted by xxx DIA BW analysts. The evaluation stated that "overall, the fact that the source may be valuable and the reporting appears to be of major significance are presently compromised by reporting inconsistencies as noted in the guidance below." DHS intelligence officer responsible for collecting and reporting the intelligence from CURVE BALL was unable to tell Committee staff whether these concerns had been raised xxx - The DHS intelligence officer did not recall the particular evaluation provided by the DIA BW analysts, or if xxx provided any information in response.
"A CIA BW analyst told Committee staff that a Department of Defense (DOD)
detailee who provided technical advice on CURVE BALL " . . . thought that the guy might be an alcoholic and that bothered him a lot." The detailee who provided technical advice to the CIA Directorate of Operations (DO) on BW matters, met CURVE BALL in May 2000 in order to administer xxx. The detailee is the only American intelligence official to have met CURVE BALL before Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Such honest and honorable people with whom our government works.