Powell questions why CIA never told him of unreliability of Iraq defector’s WMD claims

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WASHINGTON - Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain why they failed to alert him to the unreliability of a key source behind claims of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s bio-weapons capability.

Powell was responding to the Guardian’s revelation that the source, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi or “Curveball”, admitted that he had lied about Iraq’s secret biological weapons programme.

He demanded to know why it had not been made clear to him that “Curveball” was unreliable before false information was put into the key intelligence assessment.

“It has been known for several years that the source called Curveball was totally unreliable,” the Guardian quoted Powell, as saying.

“The question should be put to the CIA and the DIA as to why this wasn’t known before the false information was put into the NIE sent to Congress, the president’s state of the union address and my February 5 presentation to the UN,” he added.

Powell’s speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, had cited intelligence about Saddam’ bio-weapons programme gained from a defector codenamed Curveball.

In his speech he referred to “firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. The source was an eyewitness who supervised one of these facilities”.

Janabi, who has been granted asylum in Germany, had earlier said that he had been approached by the German secret service, the BND, in 2000 as they sought inside information on Iraq.

“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. I had to do something for my country, so I did this and I am satisfied because there is no dictator in Iraq any more,” Janabi had said.

“The BND knew that I was lying after they talked to my former boss, Dr. Bassil Latif, who told them there were no mobile bio-weapons factories. For 18 months after that they left me alone because they knew I was telling lies even though I never admitted it. Believe me, back then, I thought the whole thing was over for me,” he added. (ANI)

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