Powell Calls For Explanation on Faulty Iraq WMD Intelligence

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is calling for the U.S. intelligence community to explain why it provided leaders with fraudulent information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was used to make the case for invading the Middle Eastern state, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 15).

In a February 2003 prewar presentation to the U.N. Security Council, Powell asserted that then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had mobile biological weapon laboratories and hidden production facilities. That information came from Iraqi defector Rafid Ahmed Alwan, known as "Curveball," who Powell told the council was "an Iraqi chemical engineer" who "supervised one of these facilities."

"He actually was present during biological agent production runs," Powell told the council.

No evidence of active WMD production sites or operational stockpiles have been found in Iraq since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Alwan told the London Guardian this week that he made up the information in order see Hussein removed from power.

"It has been known for several years that the source called Curveball was totally unreliable," Powell said to the Guardian . "The question should be put to the CIA and the (Defense Intelligence Agency) as to why this wasn't known before the false information was put into the (report) sent to Congress, the [President Bush's] State of the Union address and my February 5 presentation to the U.N."

Alwan's deceit was discovered when German Federal Intelligence Service officials talked with his one-time supervisor at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, who said there were no biological weapon production facilities or trucks. However, German intelligence officers kept up their work with Alwan and his fraudulent statements were at some point forwarded to high-ranking U.S. officials by the intelligence community (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Feb. 16).

George Tenet, who headed the CIA at the time of the invasion, said in a website posting that he learned "too damn late" that Curveball was not trustworthy, the Guardian reported. In material taken from his autobiography, Tenet said German intelligence doubts about Alwan only came to his attention in 2005.

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer quickly dismissed Tenets assertion.

"No. I don't think so," he told the newspaper.

"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," Fischer said.

Germany sent information derived from Alwan to the United States at the CIA's request, Fischer said. However, Berlin's intelligence chief at the time also sent a letter to the U.S. intelligence agency addressing potential issues with the source, he added (Helen Pidd, London Guardian I, Feb. 17).

Tyler Drumheller, who led the CIA's European operations during the buildup to the invasion, said he was glad to see Alwan admit he lied as he had consisently advised Tenet that the Iraqi defector could be making up information.

German Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Ströbele said Alwan, who resides in Germany, appears to have violated his host country's legal code, the Guardian reported yesterday.

German law criminalizes actions carried out "with the intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially anything that leads to an aggressive war," Ströbele said.

Those found guilty of warmongering could face a lifetime jail sentence, the German lawmaker said, noting that he did not believe that would happen to Alwan.

Legislators are calling for answers on why the German intelligence service gave Alwan $4,000 every month for no less than five years after they had learned his information was false.

Ströbele also called on former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to explain just what he knew about the credibility of the information Alwan gave to the intelligence service.

Alwan's admission has been met with rage in Iraq.

Some Iraqi politicians are demanding that the chemical engineer be permanently exiled from the country. Alwan has said he would like to return to his home country and become involved in domestic politics.

Iraqi National Congress spokesman Intefadh Qanber said, "He is a liar, he will not serve his country. He fabricated the story about WMD and that story gave the USA a suitable pretext to lead the 2003 invasion, which hurt Iraq. For most Iraqis, it was obvious that Saddam was a dictator, but they wanted to see him ousted on the basis of his crimes against human rights, not a fabricated story about weapons of mass destruction" (Pidd/Chulov, London Guardian II, Feb. 16).

February 17, 2011
About

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is calling for the U.S. intelligence community to explain why it provided leaders with fraudulent information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was used to make the case for invading the Middle Eastern state, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 15).

Countries