Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Iraqi Defector Admits He Lied About WMD in Lead Up to War

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka "Curveball," made up the Weapons of Mass Destruction tale the U.S. used to invade Iraq, he tells The Guardian. Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd report:
Everything he had said about the inner workings of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons programme was a flight of fantasy - one that, he now claims was aimed at ousting the Iraqi dictator. Janabi, a chemical engineering graduate who had worked in the Iraqi industry, says he looked on in shock as Powell's presentation revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed the lot. Something else left him even more amazed; until that point he had not met a US official, let alone been interviewed by one. 
"I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime," he told the Guardian in a series of interviews carried out in his native Arabic and German. "I and my sons are proud of that, and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."
His interviews with the Guardian, which took place over two days, appeared to be partly a purge of conscience, partly an attempt to justify what he did. It also seems to be a bid to resurrect his own reputation, which might help him start again in Iraq -- a country that eight years later is still reeling from more than 100,000 civilian deaths and the aftermath of a savage sectarian war.
...Even now, Curveball seems bemused that his lies got as far as they did. He says he thought the game was up by the end of 2000. By that point, the BND (Germany's Secret Service) had flown to Dubai to interview his former boss at Iraq's military industrial complex, Dr Basil Latif, who had told them that his former underling was a liar.
Several British intelligence officers were present at the meeting with Latif. Their German counterparts left Dubai seeing their prized source in a new light.
According to them, Curveball had claimed that Latif's son, who was then at school in Britain, was a procurer of WMD. That information was easily proven wrong by the British spooks.
The BND then returned to Germany and sent an officer to confront their source. "He says 'there (are) no trucks' and I say, ok, when (Dr Basil says) there are no trucks then (there are none)," Curveball recalled in broken English. "I did not speak to them again until (the) end of May 2002."
...But in January 2003, several weeks before Powell's speech, the interrogation returned to trucks and birdseed. "That was the first time they had talked to me about this since 2000." Curveball says it was clear to him that the drums of war were beating ever louder, but he maintains that he still thought his story about the mobile trucks had been discounted.

by Amy Alkon

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