Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war
• Man codenamed Curveball 'invented' tales of bioweapons
• Iraqi told lies to try to bring down Saddam Hussein regime
• Fabrications used by US as justification for invasion
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.
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.
Also, a related article:
Curveball doubts were shared with CIA, says ex-German foreign minister
Germany's former foreign minister Joschka Fischer has accused the former head of the CIA George Tenet of making implausible claims about the handling of the Curveball case by the US.
On Wednesday Tenet, the director of central intelligence between 1997 and 2004, issued a statement on his website saying he discovered "too damn late" that Curveball – the Iraqi defector who became a key source for the CIA and the German secret service (BND) – might be a fabricator.
Reprinting an extract from his autobiography, Tenet claimed he only found out in 2005, two years after the Iraq invasion, that the BND had doubts about Curveball's claims to have witnessed first-hand Saddam Hussein's bio-weapons programme.
Asked by the Guardian whether Tenet's claims were plausible, Fischer said: "No. I don't think so."
Fischer said the BND realised some time before the war that Curveball was not a watertight source, and passed on his testimony to the CIA with warnings attached.
"Our position was always: [Curveball] might be right, but he might not be right. He could be a liar but he could be telling the truth," said Fischer at a press conference in Berlin to promote his memoir about the Iraq war.
Fischer said Germany was put in a "very difficult position" when the CIA asked whether they could "have" Curveball, or at least use his evidence to justify a war in Iraq. Germany's official position was that it would not join the coalition of the willing. Fischer himself famously told Donald Rumsfeld in February 2003 that he was "not convinced" about the case for war.
He said the then head of the BND, August Henning, wrote a letter to the CIA outlining the possible problems with Curveball. Fischer also pointed out that it was common practice in security circles – then, as now – to not rely on a single source, but to get at least three independent sources that corroborate each other.
Now Colin Powell is PO'd. As if he hasn't figured this out over the past 7-8 years?
Colin Powell demands answers over Curveball's WMD lies
Colin Powell, the US secretary of state at the time of the Iraq invasion, has called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain why they failed to alert him to the unreliability of a key source behind claims of Saddam Hussein's bio-weapons capability.
Responding to the Guardian's revelation that the source, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi or "Curveball" as his US and German handlers called him, admitted fabricating evidence of Iraq's secret biological weapons programme, Powell said that questions should be put to the US agencies involved in compiling the case for war.
In particular he singled out the CIA and the Defence Intelligence Agency – the Pentagon's military intelligence arm. Janabi, an Iraqi defector, was used as the primary source by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. Doubts about his credibility circulated before the war and have been confirmed by his admission this week that he lied.
Powell said that the CIA and DIA should face questions about why they failed to sound the alarm about Janabi. He demanded to know why it had not been made clear to him that Curveball was totally unreliable before false information was put into the key intelligence assessment, or NIE, put before Congress, into the president's state of the union address two months before the war and into his own speech to the UN.
Curveball told the Guardian he welcomed Powell's demand. "It's great," he said tonight. "The BND [German intelligence] knew in 2000 that I was lying after they talked to my former boss, Dr Bassil Latif, who told them there were no mobile bioweapons factories. For 18 months after that they left me alone because they knew I was telling lies even though I never admitted it. Believe me, back then, I thought the whole thing was over for me.
This part is gold. George Tenet trying to lie his way out of this:
George Tenet, then head of the CIA, is particularly in the firing line. He failed to pass on warnings from German intelligence about Curveball's reliability.
Tenet refers to his own 2007 memoir on the war, At the Centre of the Storm, in which he insists that the first he heard about Curveball's unreliability was two years after the invasion – "too late to do a damn thing about it".
nice try Tenet. I hope you they put you on the stand under oath and you say the same thing, then head to prison when they nail you for perjury. Maybe Mr. Drumheller could be a witness:
Tyler Drumheller, head of the CIA's Europe division in the run-up to the invasion, said he welcomed Curveball's confession because he had always warned Tenet that he may have been a fabricator.
Tenet has disputed Drumheller's version of events, insisting that the official made no formal warning to CIA headquarters.
I'm sure Powell has been asking a lot of questions about the B.S. put in his speech before all this came out.
This is all just so disgusting. Of course the Bush admin knew Curveball was a crappy source, they were just desperate for any speckle of legitimation for the invasion. They are a bunch of liars, murderers, & war criminals. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, and any one else (even Powell?) guilty of perpetrating these lies in order to justify their B.S. war should all be strung up and hanged in Saddam-like fashion, fireworks exploding in the background. Maybe the families of dead soldiers or dead Iraqi civilians could kick away the chairs.
America, you f***ing disgust me. How Congress and the especially much (but not all) of the American public were/are so ignorant, gullible, and outright stupid not to demand the Bush admin to be held to account for their historic lies. Americans either don't know (ignorance) or don't care (immorality). Congress is more concerned with their next election than justice. The American system & public has failed, & i have little faith Powell's new "concerns" will lead anywhere.
The problem is not only that this happened & people are not held to account, but that nothing has been done to prevent something like this from happening again. Unbelievable.
For those Americans who have demanded answers and justice, i salute you. Those that are too uninformed/gullible, wake up. For those who know the truth but do nothing about it, the lives of dead soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are on your conscience too and i hope you rot in hell.