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Curveball Comes Clean and Rumsfeld Forgets

February 16, 2011

No Quarter, 15 Feb 2011: Yes America, you were lied into an unnecessary war in Iraq. The U.K.’s Guardian is out today (Tuesday) with news that the source of the intel used by Colin Powell to sell the U.N on the case for going to war with Iraq lied. Remember Curveball? He comes clean in an exclusive interview with the Guardian:

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.

“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” he said. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”

Why does this matter?

Because a senior intelligence officer, Tyler Drumheller, warned CIA Director Tenet and Deputy CIA Director McLaughlin that Curveball was a fabricator. Drumheller told the Deputy Director for Operations (i.e., the guy in charge of all the spies overseas) Jim Pavitt and his Assistant, Steve Kappes. Tyler lays everything out in detail in his book, On The Brink.

This is important stuff. Senior Intelligence Officers and Cabinet Officials had enough information to know that the case for going to war in Iraq was bullshit, but very few had the courage to speak up and challenge authority.

It is almost 8 years since the Bush Administration invaded Iraq and memories of who said what and when are rapidly fading. Does anyone seriously want to argue the world is better off today because we started an unjustified war that has left Iran in a much stronger position in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf? Saddam was a sonofabitch but he was our sonofabitch and played a useful role in deterring the influence of the mullahs of Iran. That’s not a matter of opinion but a simple fact.

Making things even more interesting is Don Rumsfeld’s new book (I am not giving the title nor a link, he can go fuck himself). I will give credit to Rumsfeld for one thing–at least he has the decency to give the proceeds of the books to foundations that serve the needs of dead and wounded soldiers. A sharp contrast to former CIA Director George Tenet, who sought to profit from his cowardice and political ass kissing.

Anyway, two former deputies of Jerry Bremer, who Rummy tries to blame for all that went wrong after we invaded Iraq, weighed in today with a very strong, factual reminder that Rummsfeld lived in a fantasy world:

What went wrong in Iraq? According to Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir, U.S. difficulties stemmed not from the Pentagon’s failure to plan for the war’s aftermath – or Rumsfeld’s unwillingness as defense secretary to provide enough troops to secure Iraqis after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Rumsfeld pins most of the blame on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) for its alleged mishandling of Iraq’s political transition in 2003-04, which “stoked nationalist resentments” and “fanned the embers of what would become the Iraqi insurgency.”

We were Defense Department officials through the early phases of the war and worked for the CPA in Baghdad. We have defended many of the difficult decisions Rumsfeld made and respect his service to our country. But his book paints an inaccurate and unfair history of U.S. policymaking concerning Iraq’s political transition.

You can read the rest here. Why is all of this relevant? It is a reminder of how often intelligence can be subverted to serve policy interests. There is no guarantee that elected officials will do the right thing and listen to intel. To the contrary there are often strong political pressures to ignore intel.

This is a completely different problem from poor intelligence collection. We don’t know yet with respect to Egypt whether or not policymakers were warned and ignored the warnings or if the CIA dropped the ball and failed to collect intel. Regardless we do know what happened with respect to Iraq–we were lied into a war and American soldiers and marines died for nothing.



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