Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 20, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

CURVEBALL....The LA Times reports today that the Bush administration publicly repeated information from a source known as Curveball despite warnings from his German handlers that the information was unreliable:

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.

...."This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.

....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."

There's much more, so read the whole thing.

In other news about hyped intelligence, James Bamford reports in Rolling Stone that the same thing happened in the case of an informant named Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who insisted that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam Hussein's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. He failed a CIA polygraph test, but his claims were nonetheless leaked to Judith Miller at the New York Times and then trumpeted repeatedly by hawks both inside and outside the administration.

Nope, no manipulation of intelligence here.....

Kevin Drum 12:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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