Friday, July 16, 2004

From "The weapons that weren't ," July 15th 2004, The Economist print edition: "In February 2003, Colin Powell, the secretary of state, delivered a presentation to the UN Security Council that has been credited with convincing many sceptics of the case for war. Mr Powell outlined “many smoking guns” in Iraq, including a fleet of mobile biological weapons laboratories. All of these, he said, had been identified with the use of solid intelligence, corroborated by multiple sources. But the Senate committee found otherwise.
Shortly before Mr Powell delivered his speech, a CIA agent read a draft version of it, and reacted with horror. According to e-mails provided to the committee, the agent identified himself as being the only American agent to have interviewed the main source behind the mobile-lab intelligence. He considered the source, codenamed Curve Ball, an unreliable drunkard whose identity was not yet established. Three additional sources who were supposed to have corroborated Curve Ball's claims were either known “fabricators” or had not, in fact, corroborated the claims at all. In reply to these concerns, the agent was told by a senior CIA official: “Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say, and that the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about.” "