Curveball admissions vindicate suspicions of CIA's former Europe chief

The former head of the CIA in Europe, when told of the admissions by the agent codenamed Curveball to the Guardian, said the news made him feel better about himself.

Tyler Drumheller, who says he warned the head of the US intelligence agency before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Curveball might be a liar, said the confession would be a final wake-up call for the hawks who continued to believe that there had been WMD but that the CIA had been "too stupid" to find them.

"The interesting part for me is that he has recanted what he said, which is fascinating in the sense that I think there are still a number of people who still thought there was something in that. Even now," he said.

Drumheller cast doubt on the idea that Curveball's lies were unconnected with his asylum application. He said he believed most of the interrogation sessions took place before 13 March 2000, the date the Iraqi says he claimed asylum.

"My impression was always that his reporting was done in January and February," said Drumheller, adding that he had been warned well before 2003 by his counterparts in the German secret service (BND) that Curveball might not be reliable. "We didn't know if it was true. We knew there were real problems with it and there were inconsistencies."

He passed on this information to the head of the CIA, George Tenet, he said, and yet Curveball's testimony still made it into Colin Powell's famous February 2003 speech justifying an invasion. "Right up to the night of Powell's speech, I said, don't use that German reporting because there's a problem with that," said Drumheller. "[Curveball] recanting doesn't really change that. It just makes me feel better. It confirms what we found at the time."

He recalled a conversation he had with John McLaughlin, then the CIA's deputy director. "The week before the speech, I talked to the Deputy McLaughlin, and someone says to him, 'Tyler's worried that Curveball might be a fabricator.' And McLaughlin said, 'Oh, I hope not, because this is really all we have.' And I said, and I've got to be honest with you, I said: 'You've got to be kidding? This is all we have!' "

Asked whether Powell, then US secretary of state, could have made a public case for war without Curveball, he said: "Not at the time they did ... it would have been a lot less dramatic and there would have been a lot more debate in congress in the US than if you have a source who says, for example, they can drop anthrax over the City of London."

Drumheller was also sceptical about Curveball's insistence that he lied to overthrow Saddam Hussein. "If this was part of a grand scheme to overthrow Suddam Hussein then he is one of the world's greatest strategic planners."

Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff at the time, said: "I will admit that Curveball was a decisive part of [Powell's case for war] ... It was significant. It gave Powell the feeling that there was something solid."

[Source: By Helen Pidd and Martin Chulov, The Guardian, London, 15Feb12]

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Este documento ha sido publicado el 04abr12 por el Equipo Nizkor y Derechos Human Rights