MANIPULATING INTELLIGENCE….AN UPDATE….Last week I posted a list of five specific cases in which the Bush administration deliberately suppressed dissenting views on some of the most important pieces of evidence that they used to bolster their case for war. I’ve since added two new items to the list and appended some additional information to item #2.
The added information is below. The complete list is here.
The Claim: An Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball” was the source of reporting that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of mobile biowarfare labs. Curveball’s claims of mobile bio labs were repeated by many administration figures during the runup to war.
What We Know Now: The German intelligence officials who handled Curveball told the CIA that he was not “psychologically stable” and that his allegations of mobile bio labs were second hand and unverified. Link. The only American agent to actually meet with Curveball before the war warned that he appeared to be an alcoholic and was unreliable. However, his superior in the CIA told him it was best to keep quiet about this: “Let’s keep in mind the fact that this war’s going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn’t say, and the powers that be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he’s talking about.” Link. This dissent was not made public until 2004, in a response to the SSCI report that was written by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Link.
The Claim: Administration officials repeatedly suggested that Saddam Hussein had substantial connections to al-Qaeda. Even after the war, George Bush said, “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” Dick Cheney said the evidence of a relationship was “overwhelming.”
What We Know Now: As early as September 21, 2001, President Bush was told by the CIA that there was “scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.” In fact, according to Murray Waas, “Bush was told during the briefing that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime.” Link.
The Claim: Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, an Iraqi defector, told the CIA that he had secretly helped Saddam Hussein’s men bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. After this information was passed to the New York Times by Ahmed Chalabi, it was cited in “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” as evidence of Iraq’s continued WMD programs.
What We Know Now: Al-Haideri told his story while strapped to a polygraph. He failed. The CIA knew from the start that he had made up the entire account, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa. Link.