Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Curveball" finally confesses what we already knew.

As reported by MSNBC last week, "An Iraqi defector who went by the codename 'Curveball' has publicly admitted for the first time that he made up stories about mobile bioweapons trucks and secret factories to try to bring down Saddam Hussein’s regime."

Then again, this really isn't big news, because it has been known for years that this man outright lied about the bioweapons. As I noted on April 13, 2006, Curveball (real name Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi) had been provided by the Iraqi National Congress, the group led by Ahmed Chalabi. This is important because, as I noted on February 22, 2005, Chalabi admitted that he and his group had lied about WMDs and Saddam having ties to Al Qeada. By the time of my April 13, 2006, post, it had already been established that Curveball had lied about the bioweapons.

My anger now, as then, is not directed at Curveball. Rather my anger is on the assholes in the Bush administration that used Curveball's lies to build the case for war. The April 13, 2006, post and a post from February 13, 2007, discuss how Curveball's "info" and other so-called "intelligence" was used by the Bush administration in spinning its false reasons for going to war. As I noted in that later post, Curveball--and many of the Iraqi defector sources--was considered unreliable by the U.S. intelligence community, but that didn't matter to Bush, Wolfowitless, Rumskull, and the others. Also seriously at fault are British and German intelligence officials, but I'll get to that part of the story later.

By the way, in 2007, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Drogin published a book enititled Curveball--Spies, Lies, and the Con Man Who Caused a War. I bought it about a week before the story of Curveball's confession broke. I have yet to read it, but will get to it soon.

The MSNBC article gave some details about what was known about Curveball's lack of credibility before the war, including the fact that Tyler Drumheller, then the head of the CIA in Europe, warned Bush officials before the war that Curveball was likely lying. The rest of what is in the MSNBC article is a shorter version of what was in a February 15 article in the Guardian. That article was based in part on interviews with Curveball, and it painted an ugly picture.
In a series of meetings with the Guardian in Germany where he has been granted asylum, he said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bioweapons trucks throughout 2000. He said the BND (German Secret Service) had identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and approached him shortly after 13 March of that year, looking for inside information about Saddam's Iraq.
Janabi claimed he was first exposed as a liar as early as mid-2000, when the BND travelled to a Gulf city, believed to be Dubai, to speak with his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, Dr Bassil Latif.

The Guardian has learned separately that British intelligence officials were at that meeting, investigating a claim made by Janabi that Latif's son, who was studying in Britain, was procuring weapons for Saddam.

That claim was proven false, and Latif strongly denied Janabi's claim of mobile bioweapons trucks and another allegation that 12 people had died during an accident at a secret bioweapons facility in south-east Baghdad.

The German officials returned to confront him with Latif's version. "He says, 'There are no trucks,' and I say, 'OK, when [Latif says] there no trucks then [there are none],'" Janabi recalled.

He said the BND did not contact him again until the end of May 2002. But he said it soon became clear that he was still being taken seriously.

He claimed the officials gave him an incentive to speak by implying that his then pregnant Moroccan-born wife may not be able to travel from Spain to join him in Germany if he did not co-operate with them. "He says, you work with us or your wife and child go to Morocco."

The meetings continued throughout 2002 and it became apparent to Janabi that a case for war was being constructed. He said he was not asked again about the bioweapons trucks until a month before Powell's (pre-war United Nations) speech.

After the speech, Janabi said he called his handler at the BND and accused the secret service of breaking an agreement that they would not share anything he had told them with another country. He said he was told not to speak and placed in confinement for around 90 days.
(emphasis added). Unbelievable. The man was caught lying by the British and the Germans, admitted that he was lying, and yet the Brits and especially the Germans treated his "information" as truth. And even though the Bush administration had been presented with warnings that Curveball was lying, they did nothing about that and continued for several years to claim that he was telling the truth.


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