a very bad thing…

Posted on Monday 31 March 2008

An Iraqi engineer who provided the information that became one of the key planks in the Bush administration’s case justifying the invasion of Iraq has been tracked down by undercover reporters to a drab residential block in southern Germany.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan, code-named Curveball (a baseball term for deception), has been in hiding since the invasion five years ago, and lives under an assumed name. He was questioned by German intelligence in the late 1990s when seeking asylum in Germany and told them that he had witnessed a biological weapons programme in Iraq. His "evidence" was made public in a compelling speech to the UN security council by US secretary of state, Colin Powell on 5 February 2003, when he said that Iraq possessed stockpiles of biological weapons that threatened the world and the mobile weapons laboratories to produce them.

Although German intelligence officials had warned the CIA that Curveball’s claims were unreliable, and UN inspectors had failed to corroborate them, the Bush administration promoted the existence of such mobile labs for months after the invasion.

Now Curveball denies having made the claims in the first place. The BBC 2 programme Newsnight broadcast last night secretly filmed footage of the discredited agent who was approached by Der Spiegel magazine in his German hideout where he declined to give a formal interview. His face was blanked out in the footage in which a reporter asked him on his doorstep whether he had ever spoken about Iraq’s biological weapons. Curveball replied "No"…
I guess that Iraq’s Curveball, Iraqi’s expatriot misinformation-meister Ahmad Chalabi, Italy’s Rocco Martino of the Yellow Cake Uranium Hoax, America’s Douglas Feith of fabricated al Qaeda/Hussein links, our own Judith Miller of the prewar NY Times articles, Colin Powell‘s completely false U.N. speech – all the bogus evidence that Dick Cheney and friends wove into the Cassus Belli [Cause for War] in Iraq have faded in importance. For reasons that escape me, the proven case that Joseph Wilson’s original charge ["Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq? Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."] was both understated and totally true is still blowing in the wind. I think about what that means sometimes, but never get anywhere with it. Based on the flimsiest of evidence from sources we never personally examined [evidence that would be flimsy even if it were true], we committed to a full scale War on Iraq. Now, everyone pretty much knows that it was all a lie, but the fact that one of the liars has been located is not even back page news. Why doesn’t the front page of the New York Times say, "Curveball Located!" Why isn’t there a Congressional Committee on television every day, questioning Administration Officials about their part in this huge hoax? Why isn’t there an Impeachment Hearing scheduled for next week in the House of Representatives? Why do people question Barak Obama’s patriotism based of his having a fiery preacher, but our current President and Vice President who undertook a campaign of treason walk around with American flags in their lapels still making up stories? Why did our last President get impeached for a sexcapade, but these guys get a bye for a trillion dollar, 4000 American lives caper based on fabrications?

I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions. All I know is that this silence is a very bad thing. Steve Soto of the left coaster has some things to say about the same topic:

If you are like me, you may wonder how House and Senate Democrats continually act as doormats for this administration, even though Congress has constitutional prerogatives in oversight, and if need be, impeachment. But if you want to gag at a first-hand example of how we got here, read the lame explanation by former House Intelligence Committee ranking member Jane Harman on why she allowed the Bush Administration to get away with illegal domestic spying for so many years, and then read how everyday Americans eviscerate her explanation over at TPM. New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau’s new book "Bush’s Law" is out April 1st, wherein he lays out how the administration has gotten away with all of it…

Keep in mind that this woman, the most powerful Democrat in the House for several years when it came to intelligence matters, took it on faith that the program was legal because … the Bush Administration told her it was. And this was after the Iraqi war justification had begun to unravel on a pile of lies. When this era’s history is written, there will be a collective gasp at what the GOP and this White House did to this country and our Constitution. But the condemnation should not stop at the GOP; there is plenty of blame for House and Senate Democrats as well, and Harman and Jay Rockefeller are first in line.
I guess we’re all thinking about similar things, "How in the hell did this happen?" I know that back in early 2005 when it first dawned on me how bad all of this was, I obsessed about it all the time. Before that, I often read the news and thought, "I don’t buy that." But it wasn’t until Judith Miller’s jailing that I started reading behind the news and realized how deeply perverted our government had become.  So I would add something more to Steve’s comments. I think that many otherwise decent people were in the same fog I was in back then. The September 11th attack was personally traumatic for me. The term "Terrorism" is very apt. Like others, I gave our Administration a pass. Something had to be done to deal with the insanity we all felt. When Bush began to talk about Iraq and the Axis of Evil, I balked. I thought the invasion of Iraq was wrong, but I guessed he was acting impetuously, doing "something" because he couldn’t catch bin Laden. It wasn’t until the Outing of Valerie Plame case heated up with Judith Miller’s jailing that I fully woke up and became part of what Steve calls the "collective gasp." I expect that a lot of semi-reasonable politicians were in the same post-911 torpor that engulfed me. Many are still there.

I think I could have lived with our making mistakes. But this isn’t just a series of mistakes. It’s a broad pattern of behavior involving manipulation of our governmental processes using secrecy and deceit. Machiavelli is often quoted as saying "the ends justify the means." This Administration has gone him one further. Neither the "means" nor the "ends" have been in our best interests. I think I could have also lived with incompetence. Who knows what the right thing to do is in the post-911 world? But this is more than incompetence [though there’s plenty of that to go around]. The Administration, particularly the Vice President’s office, has acted like the Roman Emperors or Feudal Kings – driven by power and personal greed. What an unfortunate confluence of forces – the 911 attack and a corrupt bunch of leaders.

But, in the end, Steve’s right that there will be a "collective gasp." And one big question will be "why didn’t someone, somewhere, mount a campaigm that put a stop to this madness?" – the same kind of question we still ask about much of 20th century history, "What was World War I about?" "Why did the German people follow Hitler?" "Why did it take seventy years to figure out that Russian Communism was little more than a new kind of Czar?" "Why didn’t the Chinese see that Mao was just an Emperor in drab clothing?" And in the United States, we thought our system of Democracy, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, a Bicameral Legislature, Judicial Review, etc. would immunize us from such a fate. That’s obviously not true…

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