There is not much new here, other than Curveball's public admission, but note Colonel Wilkerson’s comment below. One the one hand, Wilkerson admits he was a party to the “sexed up” intelligence; on the other, he wants us to believe Powell (and by extension himself) was being used. Given that “Curveball” was suspected of being a liar by the German intelligence (BND) as well as the CIA, the most charitable interpretation of Powell’s enthusiastic imitation of Adlai Stevenson's speech to the UN during the Cuban Missile Crisis is that once the decision to attack Iraq was made, neither Powell nor Wilkerson had the courage to resign on principle, and both chose instead to be a party to the fabrication — or as we used to say in the Pentagon he chose to be “used” by going along to get along.
A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.
“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi's lies used to justify the Iraq war.
He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression.”
The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.
But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”
US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi's drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell's former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.
As for his former boss: “I don't see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn't feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”
Phi Beta Iota: Character does matter — and it matters more at the strategic level. Colin Powell knew full well he was being used, and he chose not to resign and not to call for the impeachment of Dick Cheney and George Bush as well as George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the lesser lights. In other words, Colin Powell, with full awareness, betrayed the public trust. What is interesting to us is the faster pace of historical revelation. From the USS Liberty to the undermining of the Paris Peace accords that killed 20,000 additional US troops, we are finding that history does not stay lost the way it once did. The third era of intelligence — intelligence with integrity, begins now.