Remember Curveball?

Let’s go back in history. Let’s go back to those dark days of 2001 and 2002. These were days after an airliner crashed in Pennsylvania, an airliner crashed into the Pentagon and, of course, the twin towers fell. America wanted revenge. We wanted blood. Sure, the attacks were launched from Afghanistan but as Donald Rumsfeld said, there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. So, the administration decided to go after a long-time nemesis, Iraq. The administration decided that we needed overwhelming evidence that Iraq was not only a threat to its neighbors but a threat to us, here in America. They need to convince us that Iraq was an immediate threat. The Bush administration went after us in a multiple different ways in a coordinated media blitz. First of all, and most scary, they needed a nuclear threat. Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger. Secondly, and this dovetails into the uranium story, Iraq was buying these high-grade aluminum tubes which “could only be used to centrifuge high-grade uranium.” Thirdly, an Iraqi official met with Al Qaeda in Prague. This was the Al Qaeda connection. This connected Iraq to our source of rage, the attacks on September 11th. Finally, we had the mobile biological labs. These were all lies, but that’s the beauty of the Bush administration. It wasn’t just one lie, but several lies, which took us years to unravel.

This brings us to Curveball. The first time I remember reading about Curveball was in Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies. Richard Clarke described curveball as a pathological liar. He was an Iraqi citizen in German custody. The Germans didn’t trust his information. The Americans did not have the ability to directly question Curveball. Yet, somehow, this guy’s wild fantasies were uttered as fact by the Bush administration. It appears that Curveball has surfaced. He has admitted, his lies but it is too late now. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people have died. We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and have really nothing to show for it. Saddam Hussein is dead. The sons of Saddam Hussein are also dead. Now, all of this destruction isn’t Curveball’s fault. The Bush administration is to blame for ginned up lies. If it hadn’t been Curveball they would have found someone else’s lies to push onto a gullible American public.

From TPM:

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by German and American intelligence officials, now admits he made up tales of mobile biological weapons trucks and clandestine weapons factories in Iraq, information that was used by the Bush White House to press the case for war. He also says he’d do it again.

“Maybe I was right, maybe I was not right,” Janabi told The Guardian. “They gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”

In a series of meetings with the Guardian in Germany where he has been granted asylum, he said he had told a German official, who he identified as Dr Paul, about mobile bioweapons trucks throughout 2000. He said the BND had identified him as a Baghdad-trained chemical engineer and approached him shortly after 13 March of that year, looking for inside information about Saddam’s Iraq.”I had a problem with the Saddam regime,” he said. “I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance.”

In his crucial speech to the U.N. in the run-up to the war in 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell quoted intelligence information supplied by Janabi as justification for the Bush administration’s case against Iraq. Years later, reports would show that many within the CIA were expressing serious doubts about Curveball’s credibility at the time.

  • Jeff

    And now the GOP says Obama is a liar about anything he says – doesn’t matter what. They are blinded by selfishness and sadly, many by racism.

  • Will the Viking

    (long one, sorry)
    If you ever want to beat someone in a public argument, call them a racist. Works every time.

    Leaders sometimes have to lie, part of leadership is knowing what to say and what not to say. Plato’s Republic begins with what he calls a “noble lie”, spouses sometimes lie to each other to get to a more important end. Of course, there is still the issue of it being against truth and therefore (according to some moral theory like Kant’s or Roman Catholic theory) always in every way immoral and wrong. The world is tricky.

    I don’t know if the new republican congress is guided by racism, it seems an awfully convenient charge. If Obama was a woman or a white atheist or something I’m sure people would level something else at his detractors, but racism works here and it sticks so well. There are some who do it, no doubt, but also those who say all our problems are from old white men. It goes both ways. Has Obama, in the end struggled as a leader? that’s more important and he absolutely has. The problem now is he is in a position he may not have forseen. My dad mentioned one day that if Obama could do a good job, it would close the racial gap, showing the black community that hard work brings success, not buying into trends or self fulfilling prophecies of “a black kid can only succeed on a sports scholarship” (he was a middle school teacher in Texas for some time and he saw a lot of this), and it would take away ground from racial extremists on either side, but if he fails it just gives them more ammunition.

    I think Obama is probably a good guy, obviously bright in school and perhaps a good teacher. His course descriptions for what he taught were at the very least intriguing new ways of seeing moral problems. That’s great, I just don’t think he was fit for this job the same way Bush was in over his head, and he keeps screwing up. Not everyone can be president.

    The time after the WTC/Pentagon attacks was a dark time indeed. I don’t think people were solely out for blood, I think many saw an enemy that came out of relatively nowhere and used a method we just didn’t see coming. There was rage, confusion, fear, all tied up in a need for survival. Heidegger calls anxiety the issue of knowing there is a threat but not knowing from where. There was a lot of that.

    We had only recently executed Tim McVeigh, the last boogeyman, and he just went to sleep. Many who showed up to the execution were angered that he didn’t suffer more. I’m not going to say they were unjustified in their emotion, but it was still emotion. He was dead now, no possibility of him ever hurting another person, but it wasn’t enough. Now we have to deal with the issue of being attacked by planes in the sky. There was a lot of corruption in the government, no doubt, but I also don’t doubt there were huge numbers of people that were trying to do their job well and defeat whoever did this.

    Maybe, to them, Curveball was too much of a chance to take. Maybe not. Its hard to say then or now. Some I know say the Afghan war was totally justified, but Iraq was not. Iraq is certainly more unstable now, and some claim more dangerous for minorities like Christians there (Egypt is the same way, and may get worse). Maybe it was all a lie to get oil, maybe it was a situation of “we invade here, but have an enemy nation to our flanks” and one of necessity. It used to be a cut and dry answer of “bush lied, war is evil, everyone’s a criminal” but now it isn’t so cut and dry. There’s so much information its hard to make a decision, which is why you have leaders who cut through the fog and make decisions, right or wrong, but hopefully right, and in a nation as complex as ours that’s even harder to predict.

    That’s partly why sometimes leaders lie, because sometimes its better to know your duty without knowing your purpose. Tough call.

  • Will the Viking

    Regarding the new republican congress also, some political commentators are saying the democrats should start being grateful they only had to deal with Bush before, because he so often made liberal policies or compromises. Now they have gotten a host of libertarians and tea partiers who aren’t going to give them anything at all, for better and worse. Sad thing is some good thoughtful democrats and republicans lost their office because of this too.

  • annette_b

    Wow. This is the first that I’ve heard about the man behind the lies, and the reason for them. I will always feel that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice (and to a lesser extent, Colin Powell, since he has indicated that he does indeed feel remorse about how we started the war in Iraq) have Saddam Hussein’s blood on their hands. This man goes to the top of the list. If he wanted Saddam gone, he could have/should have started a movement in his own country with his own countrymen instead of provoking an already volatile situation so that the U.S. would do the dirty work.

  • Nikle

    Bob Drogin wrote a book called “Curveball: Lies, spies and the man who caused a war.” The Germans knew he was a liar, but the Bush admin kept pushing them to find something remotely believable in what he said.

    Every justification they had for the war has been shown to be a lie. They had an agenda for the middle east and they were going to do anything they needed to do to carry it out. In the end, what agenda would make them carry that out more than the oil angle?

  • 100% correct.

  • Will the viking

    As someone who was there, I agree the deaths of innocents at the hands of crazies who rushed in to take advantage of the power vacuum was horrible and sad, the ones who died being used as human shields or weapons or “collateral damage” during the car bombing at our east gate was awful. Not to mention the number of soldiers coming back and not receiving proper care even today due to mismanagement on our end by Bush and Obama. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Petraeus, much like Grant in the Civil War, went home at night crying for the deaths of his surge as it took its time to work and bring mroe success.

    I’ve no idea why you are focusing on the execution of a mass murderer.

  • annette_b

    Because I am fully persuaded that it was wrong for us to be the ones who caused him to be railroaded on falsified charges, that’s why. Just because I did not specifically comment on the tragic loss of lives does not mean that I discount that aspect of what happened. I agree with everything you said, but acknowledging that truth does not negate my point and I stand by my comment. His blood, and, let me add, the blood of the thousands of citizens and soldiers who’ve died as a result of this disastrous idiocy, is on their hands.

  • it’s hard for me to believe that anyone who is a true progressive would stand back and look at history and say we should be grateful for George W. Bush. I know I’m not grateful. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life. I’m deeply saddened that our political discussion has been injected with the tone, “I’m more religious than you are.” If anything, George W. Bush has dumbed down politics and made it possible for people like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity to thrive. Nope, I’m not grateful. He push the pendulum even farther to the right. Hopefully, what we’re seeing in Wisconsin is a push of the pendulum back to the left.

    Thanks your comments.

  • Annette – you should look for my next book. It should be out in about 3-4 months (maybe a little longer) I will talk about why our political atmosphere is the way it is. I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Thanks your comments.

  • well stated. As usual, I appreciate your comments.

    I did not know that you are there. I deeply appreciate your service and sacrifice.

  • you are hundred percent correct. As I mentioned above, Curveball was not the problem. The problem was the Bush administration. The Bush administration was going to go to war in Iraq. All they needed was justification. All they needed was some situation that they could twist to their advantage. 9/11 happened to be that situation.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  • annette_b

    What’s the title? If you let us know when it’s published, I’ll definitely look for it.

  • The problem was CONGRESS!!!!! They had a constitutional duty to hold hearings and challenge the president, but they didn’t. Biden said they needed to have hearings, and then voted FOR the resolution without them. John Edwards wrote in WaPo to hurry up and vote FOR the war before the midterms so Dems would not suffer more losses because Prez was going to win on war resolution anyway. Most craven argument by any policitican ever. Bush did not do this alone by ANY stretch. John Kerry the war hero voted FOR the resolution. It was another blank check for the Prez, like the Tonkin Gulf resolution, and Kerry voted FOR it.

    It’s morally and intellectually wrong to blame Bush alone for the Iraq War. Congress was complicit, as it always is. And Dems like Kerry and Biden and Edwards and Clinton GAVE Bush the power.

    Never forget that.

  • I see your point completely. There are leaders and then there are sheep. I have a hard time blaming the sheep but then again, their duty by law is to stand up and ask questions.

    I feel a post coming on.

    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  • annette_b

    Very good point; plenty of blame to go around….

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