Saturday, November 03, 2007
The CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday will air a report exposing the source of some Iraqi WMD intelligence, Curveball, as a likely poseur whose accounts of Iraqi weapons program progress were largely fraudulent.
The report results from a 60 Minutes investigation into the background of Iraqi defector “Curve Ball,” the ironically named source for a large volume of Western intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs and activities.
CBS summarizes the findings of their 2 year investigation:
(CBS) 60 Minutes has identified the man whose fabricated story of Iraqi biological weapons drove the U.S. argument for invading Iraq. It has also obtained video of "Curve Ball," as he was known in intelligence circles, and discovered he was not only a liar, but also a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be.Their multi-year investigation also yielded a wedding video in which Curve Ball appears.
60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon's two-year investigation will be broadcast this Sunday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Curve Ball is an Iraqi defector named Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who arrived at a German refugee center in 1999. To bolster his asylum case and increase his importance, he told officials he was a star chemical engineer who had been in charge of a facility at Djerf al Nadaf that was making mobile biological weapons.
60 Minutes has learned that Alwan’s university records indicate he did study chemical engineering but earned nearly all low marks, mostly 50s. Simon’s investigation also uncovered an arrest warrant for theft from the Babel television production company in Baghdad where he once worked.
I won’t for a second argue against a conclusion that this individual may have fabricated stories, made up facts, or otherwise misled (duped) intelligence officials, but CBS reporting on Curve Ball raises more questions than it answers.
So in two years, CBS came up with: a letter from German Intelligence stating there was no hard evidence to back up Curve Ball’s claims despite appearing credible, a wedding video, and lots of helpful quotes for disgruntled, righteously indignant, and politically motivated ex-CIA employees, all of whom, of course, saying, “I told them so!”
Why weren’t those who initially interviewed Curve Ball and those analysts reviewing his accounts more skeptical? CBS offers a plausible explanation:
He eventually wound up in the care of German intelligence officials to whom he continued to spin his tale of biological weapons. His plan succeeded partially because he had worked briefly at the plant outside Baghdad and his descriptions of it were mostly accurate. He embellished his account by saying 12 workers had been killed by biological agents in an accident at the plant.Apparently, in 2 years of investigation, CBS staff can’t even capture a factually correct rendering of the whole “Saddam sought uranium from Africa” history. The only one-time intelligence that is “now-disproved” was a single, counterfeit document purporting to document an Iraqi purchase of Yellowcake from Niger. A lot of other intelligence, relating to pre-war Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium and other nuclear equipment and material from numerous African and other sources, has not only not been discredited, but continues to be held valid by UK and other western intelligence officials.
More than a hundred summaries of his debriefings were sent to the CIA, which then became a pillar - along with the now-disproved Iraqi quest for uranium for nuclear weapons - for the U.S. decision to bomb and then invade Iraq. The CIA-director George Tenet gave Alwan’s information to Secretary of State Colin Powell to use at the U.N. in his speech justifying military action against Iraq.
For those more familiar with false media tropes that actual fact, here’s a primer.
Prior to our invasion, Saddam was pressing on multiple fronts to get economic and technical sanctions lifted so that he could legally acquire WMD components and capabilities, among other objectives. At the same time, his agents and sponsors were likewise seeking nuclear materials via more covert means. Joe Wilson, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding, actually did a fair job documenting the reality of Saddam’s ongoing efforts during his infamous fact finding junket for the CIA.
Interesting that CBS hadn’t made sufficient progress on their “investigation” to present some of their findings prior to the 2006 US Congressional election, in which anti-war Democrats exploited a rising “Bush Lied People Died” sentiment. Could that have anything to do with shifting “blame” for faulty intelligence to the actual sources and western intelligence agencies themselves?
The Anchoress gleans a similar take from the CBS report:
I’ve always maintained that since [Clinton and Bush] used the same intelligence, either both lied, or both told the truth. CBS is saying neither President lied; they were duped.If Presidential Candidate Clinton sometimes displays a commendable maturity towards the war in Iraq and National Security, compared to her fellow party-members, perhaps it derives from her more certain confidence of what the former Clinton White House thought abut the risk of Saddam seeking to advance his WMD programs and capabilities.
After 9/11, it would have been unthinkable for any president to allow Saddam, with his history of using biological weapons, of attempting to assassinate an American President and of harboring terrorists like Abu Abbas, to maintain the status quo. And once upon a time, most Americans and most congressional creatures understood that, which is why the congress voted to depose Saddam and liberate the Iraqi people, a good move they’ve actually tried to distance themselves from, because it got difficult as Bush said it would. Some who talked up the action might have thought Iraq would be a “cakewalk,” but Bush told us it would be a “long, hard slog.”
You’d think this story - which goes to the root of the “lies” that brought us into Iraq after 9/11, and puts to rest the “Bush lied” mantra - would be grabbing headlines all over the place. Oh, I forgot, it puts to rest the “Bush lied” mantra.
The narrative is so ingrained, and so many have so much invested in it, that it would be remarkable - and inspiring - to see a few folk in the press and congress suggest (even if they do it grudgingly) that “maybe Bush didn’t ‘lie,’ maybe the rhetoric has been too harsh,” but I won’t hold my breath for it. And I know the Bush WH won’t do anything to correct the narrative because they never do.
All of which makes the rhetorical dishonesty of Democratic war opponents (especially those nouveau) all the more reprehensible.
Expect much more nuanced, even handed treatments of the past, now that Democrats seek to take over the Executive, rediscover the need to preserve and protect National Security and the National Interest, and seek to nurture a more grown-up view of the best intentions of their one-time (political) enemies.
Too bad they haven’t wanted to play grown-ups these part 4 years. The country could have benefited from their adult participation. And there’d be less disinformation, myth, and outright fabulism to clean-up from their adolescent politic-playing.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (The Bible, New International Version, 1 Corinthians 13:11. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society)(Via Instapundit)
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