Daily Revolt

November 01, 2007

'60 Minutes' Identifies 'Curve Ball'

More exposing of the big lie that the Bush administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq:
The identity of the man who claimed former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had biological weapons, a key piece of information that helped lead the U.S. charge to invade Iraq, has been outed by CBS' "60 Minutes" news show.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan, known as "Curve Ball" in intelligence circles, is not a chemical engineering expert, according to the report, which instead characterized Alwan as a liar, a thief and poor student.

The CIA received hundreds of summaries of debriefings with Alwan, contributing to other intelligence reports that led the United States to bomb and invade Iraq. Former CIA Director George Tenet gave Alwan's allegations to Secretary of State Colin Powell for his report to the United Nations in the argument to take military action against Iraq, the news magazine reports.

The two-year investigation undertaken found that Alwan arrived in a refugee camp in Germany in 1999 and claimed to be a chemical engineer leading a facility at Djerf al Nadaf that was making mobile biological weapons. The news magazine reports that Alwan was looking for asylum and used his claims to bolster his case.

What this 60 Minutes report proves is that the administration knew that curve ball was a fraud, but nevertheless used him to make their bogus case on WMDs existing in Iraq. This from 2004:
German officials said that they had warned American colleagues well before the Iraq war that Curveball's information was not credible - but the warning was ignored.

It was the Iraqi defector's testimony that led the Bush administration to claim that Saddam had built a fleet of trucks and railway wagons to produce anthrax and other deadly germs.

In his presentation to the UN security council in February last year, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, explicitly used Curveball's now discredited claims as justification for war. The Iraqis were assembling "mobile production facilities for biological agents", Mr Powell said, adding that his information came from "a solid source".

These "killer caravans" allowed Saddam to produce anthrax "on demand", it was claimed. US officials never had direct access to the defector, and have subsequently claimed that the Germans misled them.

[...]The revelation is embarrassing for the Bush administration and appears to bolster the contention that it used dubious intelligence in a partisan manner in the critical few weeks before the invasion of Iraq.

This is from Alex Koppelman in Salon:
And what's fascinating to me is that we now know in retrospect that a huge amount of the prewar intelligence did rest on Curveball's shoulders. And the reason I say this is because, if you go back to just before the war, the CIA did not claim that Saddam had nuclear weapons. They said he was eight to 10 years out. And the International Atomic Energy Agency, the director, Mohamed El-Baradei, went up to the U.N. Security Council on March 7 and announced that we have been to all of these sites, and there is no evidence of the kinds of infrastructure you would need to build nuclear weapons. And also, by the way, [El-Baradei said,] the evidence that has been furnished to us, the documents, was what he referred to as "not authentic," which translated as forged. This was the American paperwork that was given to him.

So the nuclear stuff had all fallen apart. That left only the chemical and the biological. All of the postwar investigations in this country and in Britain said basically that all of the bad intelligence on biological weapons came from Curveball, that without him they really had no case whatsoever. But the surprise was that, at least at the CIA, the analysts in the chemical weapons department, the third leg of this triad, if you will, before the war they were unsure of what they had. They thought the evidence was quite ambiguous on the chemical weapons. They said they were "drifting."

We have other corroborating evidence of a conspiracy to fabricate intelligence prior to the Iraq invasion, and I'm not talking about Joe Wilson's claims on Niger:
Behind the scenes at the CIA, however, a former senior official says he was trying to keep the Curveball information out of the Powell speech.

"People died because of this," said Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of European operations at the CIA, who has written about it in a new book, "On the Brink." "All off this one little guy who all he wanted to do was stay in Germany."

Drumheller says he personally redacted all references to Curveball material in an advance draft of the Powell speech.

"We said, 'This is from Curveball. Don't use this,'" Drumheller says. Powell says neither he nor his chief of staff Col. Larry Wilkerson was ever told of any doubts about Curveball.

"In fact, it was the exact opposite," Wilkerson told ABC News. "Never from anyone did we even hear the word 'Curveball,' let alone any expression of doubt in what Secretary Powell was presenting with regard to the biological labs," Wilkerson said.

Drumheller also says he met personally with the then-deputy director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, to raise questions about the reliability of Curveball, well before the Powell speech.

"And John said, 'Oh my, I hope not. You know this is all we have,' and I said, 'This can't be all we have.' I said, 'There must be another, there must be something else.' And he said, 'No, this is really the only tangible thing we have.'"

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