Germany: About That Intelligence …

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Bush Administration, Iraq War, Weapons of Mass Destruction

While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. — President George W. Bush, November 11, 2005

We’ve already discussed the reason the bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure regarding WMDs — they weren’t looking for it. That’s why the Senate Dems closed the Senate down a few days ago. They were trying to pressure the Republicans in charge to get off their butts and start looking.

As they say … duh.

Now, let’s go on to the part about the world intelligence community agreeing with Bush’s assessment. Bob Drogin and John Goetz write in today’s Los Angeles Times that Germany tried to warn the U.S. about funky intelligence before the Iraq invasion.

The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein’s suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Five senior officials from Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball’s information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball’s accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Mischaracterized. Nice.

Curveball was the chief source of inaccurate prewar U.S. accusations that Baghdad had biological weapons, a commission appointed by Bush reported this year. The commission did not interview Curveball, who still insists his story was true, or the German officials who handled his case.

Sounds like the commission missed some spots.

An investigation by The Times based on interviews since May with about 30 current and former intelligence officials in the U.S., Germany, England, Iraq and the United Nations, as well as other experts, shows that U.S. bungling in the Curveball case was worse than official reports have disclosed.

The White House, for example, ignored evidence gathered by United Nations weapons inspectors shortly before the war that disproved Curveball’s account. Bush and his aides issued increasingly dire warnings about Iraq’s biological weapons before the war even though intelligence from Curveball had not changed in two years.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, officials embraced Curveball’s account even though they could not confirm it or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability before the war, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after the invasion.

The Germans say Curveball is mentally and emotionally unstable. And they say they told the U.S. that his stories about WMDs in Iraq were, at the very least, dubious.

The senior BND officer who supervised Curveball’s case said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball’s claims as a justification for war.

“We were shocked,” the official said. “Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven…. It was not hard intelligence.”

This is a long story that I haven’t read all the way through yet, but I ‘spect we’ll be hearing more about this in the next few days.

Related link: “What I Knew Before the Invasion” by Bob Graham

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4 Comments

  1. submandave  •  Nov 21, 2005 @12:23 pm

    [Democrats] were trying to pressure the Republicans in charge to get off their butts and start looking [for political pressure regarding WMDs].

    Perhaps they weren’t “looking” because there was no reason to do so? Maybe they investivation they did and the testimony presented sufficiently demonstrated that there was no reason to assume just on the basis of several Democrats crying “the mean, stupid evili genius Bush tricked me, WAHHHH” that there was fire where there was no real smoke.

    It reminds me of an old David Letterman bit with Larry “Bud” Melman:

    Dave Letterman: So what exactly are your secrets to comedy?
    Larry “Bud” Melman: First, persistence. If the audience doesn’t laugh, tell the joke again.
    [mild laughter]
    DL: OK, anything else?
    LBM: Yes, persistence. If the audience doesn’t laugh, tell the joke again.
    [mild laughter]
    DL: OK, I got that, but do you have any other advice?
    LBM: Yes, persistence. If the audience doesn’t laugh, tell the joke again.
    [loud, obviously forced laughter]
    LBM: See.

  2. Brainster  •  Nov 21, 2005 @12:48 pm

    You need to work on your reading comprehension, Maha. “We’ve already discussed the reason the bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure regarding WMDs — they weren’t looking for it.”

    Except that’s not what the article you link to says:

    “Bush is correct in saying that a commission he appointed, chaired by Judge Laurence Silberman and former Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., found no evidence of “politicization” of the intelligence community’s assessments concerning Iraq’s reported weapons of mass destruction programs.

    But neither that report nor others looked at how the White House characterized the intelligence it had when selling its plan for war to the world and whether administration officials exaggerated the threat. That’s supposed to be the topic of a second phase of study by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.”

  3. Patrick Lasswell  •  Nov 21, 2005 @2:10 pm

    Sen. McCain says that he asked everybody if they had been pressured. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006517

    The intelligence analysts have been asked openly under oath if they were pressured and universally answered that they were not. Is this a case where we have to invent the truth to find what we are looking for? Is that what you are asking of the Senate?

  4. JS Narins  •  Nov 23, 2005 @1:58 pm

    Hi again. Long time no comment.

    Anyway, why the hell are you on Pajama’s Media?

    Trying to earn them some dough?

    The vast moronic conspiracy?

    Don’t play ball, Maha, please.

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