How Curveball Made Fools of Official Washington
by Eric Margolis
by Eric Margolis: Egypt's
Faux Revolution: Bait and Switch on the Nile
The black comedy
of the Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball" has just resurfaced.
It tells us much about how the US has made such a mess in the Mideast
and why Washington can't understand or deal with the historic revolution
now flaring across the Muslim world.
parts of ignorance and arrogance, the standard recipe for US policy
in the Muslim world, shake well, and you get a frothy cocktail of
stupidity and blundering that offers a perfect growth medium for
conmen, special interest promoters, and disinformation.
In 2000, an
Iraqi, Ahmed al-Janabi, defected to Germany. To bolster his refugee
status, he offered Germany's intelligence service, BND, a bunch
of laughable lies about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons. The
most notorious: the claim that President Saddam Hussein had mobile
biological weapons units that threatened the world.
didn't believe "Curveball." None of his claims checked
out. But, being dutiful US allies, and knowing the Bush administration
was hungering for alarming reports about Iraq, no matter how dubious,
Germany passed on "Curveball's" claims to CIA.
European chief, Tyler Drumheller, warned Langley that Curveball's
claims were patently false. But CIA's sycophantic director, George
Tenet, knowing President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, were
determine to invade Iraq, sent "Curveball's" phony tale
to the White House without, it seems, any reservations. Another
This is hardly
the first time fakers have made monkeys of US intelligence. For
good example, back in the 1980's, a shady Iranian arms dealer and
Israeli agent, Manucher Ghorbanifar, sent President Reagan's Washington
into hysteria with phony tales of nonexistent Libyan hit-men.
In 2001, an
Israeli agent of influence in the US government and other neocon
officials resurfaced fraudster Ghorbanifar in Rome to offer false
claims and forged documents about Iraq's supposed nuclear ambitions.
CIA director later admitted "Curveball's" tall story was
the only "evidence" he had for claims that Saddam Hussein
possessed weapons of mass destruction.
On 5 Feb.,
2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN and gravely
warned of nefarious Iraqi germ weapons that threatened the entire
world, complete with fanciful drawings of bio-warfare vans.
fingered a little phial of white powder that everyone took to be
anthrax. This was a clear reminder of the 2001 anthrax panic in
the US that was falsely blamed on Muslim extremists or Iraq.
performance was a tour de force. He was one of the most trusted
figures in America. Behind Powell sat CIA chief Tenet, and US UN
chief John Negroponte, their eyes downcast and hooded, looking like
high churchmen at mass.
a decent if hardly brilliant man, allowed himself to be made a fool
and liar, remains a mystery. Powell now blames CIA and the Pentagon's
Defense Intelligence Agency for misleading him. But Gen. Powell,
the Bush White House, and Congress were either arrant fools for
swallowing all the lies about Iraq or knew it was all a big lie.
The Bush administration's
standard excuse after the 2003 war was: "well, all our allies
also thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." Former
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeated this canard last week.
In fact, the
false intelligence that came from France, Germany, Italy had originally
been provided to their intelligence agencies by CIA under long-standing
intelligence sharing agreements. Garbage in, garbage out. Some of
the original US intelligence on Iraq, which was fake, also came
from Iraq's bitter enemies, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. We
must suspect that much of the Obama administration's data on Iran's
supposed nuclear weapons is coming from agents of influence, phony
Iranian sources, and disinformation similar to "Curveball."
The US Congress
and media bayed for action against Iraq. As war fever swept over
the United States, this writer, an old Iraq hand and war correspondent,
warned Powell's claims were absurd and that Iraq had neither weapons
of mass destruction nor delivery systems.
Mideast observers were brushed aside or ignored. Journalists like
me who were "not with the program" were silenced, sometimes
at the direct demand of the White House Oval office. George Orwell's
famous line about how telling the truth in a time of mass lies becomes
an act of sedition was never truer.
A final apogee
of absurdity and lying was reached when President George W. Bush
warned of Iraq's "drones of death" based on freighters
lurking in the Atlantic Ocean, ready to shower unspeakable germs
on sleeping America.
Bush must have
gotten this idea from watching the 1940's serial, Flash
Gordon, in which the fiendish Ming the Merciless planned
to shower his lethal "Purple Death" powder on America.
I take little
pleasure in being vindicated. I'd have much preferred the US had
never invade Iraq, an unnecessary war that killed hundreds of thousands,
ravaged Iraq, and cost US taxpayers close to $1 trillion – so far.
it was Saddam Hussein, not Bush or Cheney, who was telling the truth.
He was lynched after the 2003 US invasion in good part to prevent
him from revealing the full extent of deep US-Iraqi collaboration
prior to 1991.
The US media
played a major role promoting the Iraq war. It trumpeted White House
war propaganda, headlined false stories, and kept the American public
in a state of constant fear and confusion.
Thanks to collusion
between the Bush White House and the media, over 80% of Americans
wrongly believed Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks.
the media's commentators, think tanks, and Mideast "experts"
who beat the war drums over Iraq remain in place today, continuing
to misinform Americans about the Muslim world.
US diplomats to be capable and often well informed, but handcuffed
in their reporting by the party line set by Washington. The same
applies to CIA, where heretical voices were silenced.
2009, this writer produced a book about America's pervasive influence
over the Mideast, American
Raj, subtitled, "Liberation or Domination," It
predicted much of the political and social turmoil now sweeping
the Mideast, and proposed ways the United States could practice
what it preaches by promoting real democracy and social progress
in the Muslim world.
My book was
coldly received. Americans, as with most people, like to be told
only what they already believe. The US corporate media often acts
as a megaphone for government or special interests rather than performing
its key role in a democracy – keeping government honest.
That, by default,
became the job of WikiLeaks.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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