Sunday :: Nov 20, 2005

Rummy And Bush Knew "Curveball" Had Lied Before The War


by Steve

Bush, at the commencement of his Lying Bastard campaign Veteran’s Day:

Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

The Los Angeles Times, today:

The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.
According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.
Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.
"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."
The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.
The senior BND officer who supervised Curveball's case said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball's claims as a justification for war.
"We were shocked," the official said. "Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven…. It was not hard intelligence."
A handful of bio-analysts in the weapons center, part of the CIA's intelligence directorate, controlled the Curveball reports and remained confident in their veracity. But across the CIA bureaucracy, the clandestine service officers who usually handle defectors and other human sources were increasingly skeptical.
Tyler Drumheller, then the head of CIA spying in Europe, called the BND station chief at the German embassy in Washington in September 2002 seeking access to Curveball.
Drumheller and the station chief met for lunch at the German's favorite seafood restaurant in upscale Georgetown. The German officer warned that Curveball had suffered a mental breakdown and was "crazy," the now-retired CIA veteran recalled.
"He said, first off, 'They won't let you see him,' " Drumheller said. " 'Second, there are a lot of problems. Principally, we think he's probably a fabricator.' "

Worse yet, we knew Curveball was lying before the war. How? Because we checked out his story and found it to be untrue.

Powell's speech failed to sway many diplomats, but it had an immediate impact in Baghdad.
"The Iraqis scoured the country for trailers," said a former CIA official who helped interrogate Iraqi officials and scientists in U.S. custody after the war. "They were in real panic mode. They were terrified that this was real, and they couldn't explain it."
An explanation was available within days, but U.S. officials ignored it.
On Feb. 8, three days after Powell's speech, the U.N.'s Team Bravo conducted the first search of Curveball's former work site. The raid by the American-led biological weapons experts lasted 3 1/2 hours. It was long enough to prove Curveball had lied.

And has Bush ever acknowledged that the bio-weapons claims he made in the 2003 State of the Union speech were, like the already-recanted “16 words” about Saddam’s alleged nuclear weapons program, total lies? No.

The CIA had advised Bush in the fall of 2003 of "problems with the sourcing" on biological weapons, an official familiar with the briefing said. But the president has never withdrawn the statement in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq produced "germ warfare agents" or his postwar assertions that "we found the weapons of mass destruction."

In summary, even though Team Bravo was able to debunk Curveball’s claims surreptitiously onsite inside Iraq before the war began, and even though a foreign intelligence service told us not to trust anything that Curveball said, Bush went to war anyway. He went to war knowing that the claim of Saddam training Al Qaeda on chemical weapons was the work of a DIA-acknowledged fabricator; that parts of his own government had serious doubts about the aluminum tubes claims; that the Niger documents were forgeries; that the claims of Saddam working with Al Qaeda through the Prague meeting were suspect at best; and now he went to war knowing that Team Bravo had debunked Curveball.

He signed the March 18, 2003 letter to Congress to start the war knowing that what was in that letter had already been proven to be suspect at best and lies at worst.

And for a closer, and as emptywheel so ably documents here at The Next Hurrah, Bolton's guy at the Agency Fred Fleitz, and Valerie Plame both worked at WINPAC, where a handful of bio-analysts continued to support the line that Curveball was credible, even in the face of increasing doubts from the Germans, the clandestine services part of the CIA (Plame?), and now Team Bravo. Fleitz would be in a position to know and report to Bolton directly (and Cheney) that no matter what contradictory information came in from elsewhere and overseas, there were some in the Agency who supported what Cheney and Bolton already believed about Saddam, regardless of what the Germans and Team Bravo had already shot down. And he would know and be able to report to Bolton and Cheney about the disagreements inside the Agency, and who it was that disagreed with this "handful" of bio-analysts who thought Curveball was credible.

Steve :: 10:25 AM :: Comments (11) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!