Posted on Wednesday 16 February 2011

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

by Helen Pidd in Karlsruhe
15 February 2011

The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995.

"Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right," he said. "They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy." The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.

The careers of both men were seriously damaged by their use of Janabi’s claims, which he now says could have been – and were – discredited well before Powell’s landmark speech to the UN on 5 February 2003. The former CIA chief in Europe Tyler Drumheller describes Janabi’s admission as "fascinating", and said the emergence of the truth "makes me feel better". "I think there are still a number of people who still thought there was something in that. Even now," said Drumheller…
They say that, "Time heals all wounds." But that doesn’t mean there’s not a scar left behind. I remember this one like it was yesterday. I watched Colin Powell’s U.N. speech on February 5, 2003 still hoping that the really bad feeling I had about the Iraq thing wasn’t true. That was the day I stopped believing that it was possible that we weren’t being duped by our own government. I never really believed all the stuff about Iraq from the January 2002 State of the Union "Axis of Evil" through the January 2003 "sixteen words," but I kept hoping they really had something.

And so I watched Powell’s speech, and I read those New York Times articles by Judith Miller, actually hoping that I would hear something I could believe – and I didn’t. The scar is that the me that wanted to believe that our President and his pals were playing it straight will never again be able to feel that way again. Even with President Obama who I think is a straight shooter, I need to be shown. I thought Powell was a straight shooter too. The faith thing is over for me. Rocco Martino and his Niger forgeries aren’t what destroyed it, nor was it Curveball. The Bush Administration and Colin Powell did that. I know that Bush and Cheney used him, but it was his mouth moving on my t.v. set that day.

So Curveball’s admissions don’t even really matter – any more than McNamara’s admissions mattered. Powell’s apologies don’t matter either. The scar is there for all times…
    February 16, 2011 | 2:22 PM

    Colin Powell is certainly an honorable man in most every way, from what we know. But he was just too much the “good soldier” to be a voice of dissent within an administration that he didn’t agree with. In the end, he did the job he was told to do — even though he insisted on higher standards of reliability than the others. Was he naive or trying to find a way to retain his integrity while still obeying orders?

    I think even he now wishes he had refused and resigned. I wish he had too. But soldiers are trained to do that only as a last resort when they’re sure they’ve been ordered to do something that is wrong.

    We needed him to be a little more of a rebel and less of a good soldier that day.

    February 16, 2011 | 4:19 PM

    It’s a shame what happened. Later, what we learned was that Libby had written an outrageous speech, and Powell balked and spent days going over it line by line with Tenet – who he trusted. But “trusted” with that crowd plus a nickle didn’t buy Powell a cup of coffee on that day. Innocent victim, or good soldier, or complicit co-conspirator doesn’t matter when the stakes are a trillion dollar, ten year, thousands dead, reputation destroying war is on the table…

    February 16, 2011 | 4:32 PM

    Wonder what would have happened if, instead of Good Soldier Powell, Eliot Richardson had been Secretary of State and had refused and resigned, as he did when Nixon ordered him to fire Watergate investigator Archibald Cox, setting off the Saturday Night Massacre.

    I think Powell has since said that he considered it but thought he could do more to temper the rush to war by staying inside. Didn’t happen, obviously.

    February 18, 2011 | 9:33 AM

    Cheney/Bush used Powell’s popularity to take us to war. There is a little known fact that Powell was involved in during the Vietnam war while he was climbing the general path. In was not an honorable journey for Powell I’m sure that this is the main reason that Powell didn’t run for president. He used his family especially his wife Alma for his reason for not running. goes into depth about what happened during the Vietnam War. I’m positive that Cheney knew about this blotch in Powell’s climb up the promotional rise to general.That is why the truth matters and if you don’t have secrets you can’t be stopped. I’m not saying Powell isn’t a good man because we all have things in our lives that prove none of us are perfect but we aren’t Secretary of State or possible candidates for president. I think Powell was delusional if he thought he could do anything to stop Cheney’s manipulation of Bush the first 4 years in office. Bush of course was more careful in his last 4 years of his presidency.

    Jack Senterfitt
    February 18, 2011 | 12:58 PM

    One would think that this admission of bald faced lying would result in numerous headline articles in the mainstream media, but the silence in response to this disclosure has been deafening. Imagine for a moment a scenario in which it came out that the Obama administration had taken an action on supposed intelligence that later turned out to be fabricated–you can imagine RushGlennBillSean howling at how inept, stupid, gullible, etc. Obama was to rely on something about which some had expressed skepticism. Where, o where is the Fourth Estate?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.