War of Choice in Iraq: Curveball Lied But Who Sent the Troops to Die?

The last of our combat brigades departed Iraq in August 2010. In eight months, the US State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police. Staffing at the US Embassy in Baghdad currently at 8,000 is expected to grow in the coming year to about 17,000 people, the vast majority of whom will be contractors. Yes, in this jobless economy, there are still jobs. In Iraq.

In Capitol Hill on February 16, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iraq will face major security “problems” if U.S. troops leave the country by the end of this year as planned.

Over in Iraq, Baghdad’s city government demands an apology and  $1 billion for the damage done to the city not by bombs but by blast walls and Humvees since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.  Via Reuters: “The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste,” the statement said.

“Due to the huge damage, leading to a loss the Baghdad municipality cannot afford…we demand the American side apologize to Baghdad’s people and pay back these expenses.”

On money matters, the FY2012 budget proposal includes a total U.S. government Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) effort in Iraq at $15.7 billion. Billions.

Meanwhile the US debt continues ticking on like the energizer bunny. Every citizen, including my minor son now carries over $45,000 as his share of the US national debt. 

Amidst all this, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi – codenamed Curveball by the CIA – surfaced recently and gave an interview to the Guardian where he explains why he lied about Saddam’s chemical weapons capability. His false claims were quoted at the UN by former secretary of state Colin Powell and used to help justify the Iraq war.

Here is Curveball’s video.

Full text of Colin Powell’s UN speech on February 2003 using Curveball’s ‘evidence’ is here. Excerpt below:

The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. Twelve technicians died from exposure to biological agents.

He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim Holy Day, Thursday night through Friday. He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.

This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.

Curveball now admits to WMD lies that triggered the Iraq war; he ‘invented’ tales of bio-weapons, reportedly to try to bring down Saddam Hussein.

Curveball must be quite a political strategist to pull this off, or the intelligence communities here and across the pond should be awarded 400-lb medals for being great suckers to this Iraqi fantasist trying to topple Saddam.

It won’t surprise me if Curveball will also get away with a ghost written book contract. No more allowance and free car from his adopted state, he needs to sell something … like …. a book!  After all, just about everyone is this sorry episode, has already hawked their books on teevee and online. Why not Curveball?

Here is Curveball, a freedom fighter in the sly:

“Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.”

“Saddam did not [allow] freedom in our land. There are no other political parties. You have to believe what Saddam says, and do what Saddam wants. And I don’t accept that. I have to do something for my country. So I did this and I am satisfied, because there is no dictator in Iraq any more.”

More here on Curveball’s lies – and the consequences. Check out the Guardian’s Curveball page here.

As can be expected, old history becomes new again. And a serious ink fight has broken among the “formers,” which is quite maddening to watch.

The Guardian reports that Curveball’s admissions vindicate the  suspicions of CIA’s former Europe chief: 

“My impression was always that his reporting was done in January and February,” said Drumheller, adding that he had been warned well before 2003 by his counterparts in the German secret service (BND) that Curveball might not be reliable. “We didn’t know if it was true. We knew there were real problems with it and there were inconsistencies.”

He passed on this information to the head of the CIA, George Tenet, he said, and yet Curveball’s testimony still made it into Colin Powell’s famous February 2003 speech justifying an invasion. “Right up to the night of Powell’s speech, I said, don’t use that German reporting because there’s a problem with that,” said Drumheller. “[Curveball] recanting doesn’t really change that. It just makes me feel better. It confirms what we found at the time.”

He recalled a conversation he had with John McLaughlin, then the CIA’s deputy director. “The week before the speech, I talked to the Deputy McLaughlin, and someone says to him, ‘Tyler’s worried that Curveball might be a fabricator.’ And McLaughlin said, ‘Oh, I hope not, because this is really all we have.’ And I said, and I’ve got to be honest with you, I said: ‘You’ve got to be kidding? This is all we have!’ “

According to the Guardian, the ex-German foreign minister Joschka Fischer also accused the former CIA chief George Tenet over his knowledge of Iraqi defector’s sketchy background. Mr. Fischer by the way, also has a new autobiography, I Am Not Convinced.

On February 16, 2011, George Tenet, former Director of the CIA, citing recent press accounts about “Curve Ball” says in his website that “The handling of this matter is certainly a textbook case of how not to deal with defector provided material. But the latest reporting of the subject repeats and amplifies a great deal of misinformation about the case.  In order to provide some perspective, the following excerpt if from my 2007 memoir “At the Center of the Storm” and offers additional detail that the media continue to ignore.”

Excerpt from his book:

If Drumheller or anyone had brought to John McLaughlin or me these doubts about Curve Ball’s credibility, let alone his sanity, we would have gone to great lengths immediately to resolve the matter. Unfortunately, the first either of us learned of Tyler Drumheller’s lunch with the German BND official and of the latter’s supposed warnings—and his refusal to stand publicly behind them—was when we were interviewed by the Silberman- Robb Commission as it prepared its March 2005 report, two years too late to do a damn thing about it.
On January 27, 2003, right before the Powell UN speech, our man in Germany sent another cable, this one expressing his own reservations about the source. He did so because he had received no response to his December 20 cable. Curve Ball’s reporting was problematic, he said, and should be relied on only after “most serious consideration.” This cable, too, went to Drumheller for action. In the three days and nights we sat at headquarters working on the secretary’s speech, nobody ever told us of our senior man in Germany’s reservations or of the letter from the BND chief.
My successor, Porter Goss, asked his staff to run down the Curve Ball story. They found in 2005 that the letter, located in the European Division, had not been formally logged in as received. Despite extensive searching, no records have been found that the letter was sent to either John McLaughlin or me.

Sounds like a game of Drumheler, Drumheller, tell me who is IT?

Oh, dear god, all that money for the intel folks and they could not do a simple log in of an important piece of communication? And why is Mr. Tenet “talking” for both himself and John McLaughlin as if they were joined at the hip? Mr. McLaughlin should get a chance to write his own book, no?

The US was duped. Deceived. The most powerful country in the world, with billions allocated to intelligence, was  tricked and outsmarted by Curveball? 

Did the USA “allow” itself to be duped? That is the $3 trillion plus dollar question (counting the future med/health expenditures for all war vets). Anyone? Anyone?   

So now, Colin Powell is reported to have demanded answers over Curveball’s WMD lies. The former US Secretary of State is asking why the CIA failed to warn him over Iraqi defector who has admitted fabricating WMD evidence.

And on and on it goes …

He said vs. he said vs. who said vs. drat said vs. enough said!

And this is giving me a mighty headache.

Here’s what confuses me …

We used taxpayer’s money to investigate a small blue dress and presidential sexual indiscretion. Fine.  But we don’t have the balls to examine how we got into Iraq? Not fine. 

Our elected officials who served the American public should be publicly answerable for their actions. After all, aren’t they the servants of the people? Wouldn’t it be the honorable thing to do to stand up and be accountable for your actions instead of writing self serving books?

Colin Powell demands an explanation. What he should do is call for an Iraq War Truth Commission and volunteer as its first witness.

There are 4,754 reasons why.

And they’re all dead.