Empowering Talk Radio

Iraq War Intelligence Debunked, Yet Sold to America

Iraq War Intelligence Debunked, Yet Sold to America

This is part two of my commentary on the film “Hubris – Selling the Iraq war”. This documentary film looks deep into the workings of the Bush administration, to see how they began their propaganda machine, to sell the American people on going into war with Iraq.

This blog is taken from The Joan Jerkovich Show radio transcript and edited for easier reading. For audio, listen on podcast or iTunes at http://joanjerkovich.com/

What I’m going to focus on is the military intelligence that was gathered in the lead up to this war, and basically, how this film debunks it. There were stories about a photo, and then there was a detainee. There was someone named Curveball. There were the aluminum tubes and then there was the purchase of the yellowcake uranium ore. All of these were debunked in this film.

Let’s talk about the photo. It was thought to supposedly be a meeting between one of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda hijack leaders and a high ranking Iraqi intelligence officer. This was never made public. As the intelligence operative working at the time said, it couldn’t be the correct person in the photo, because the man you’re talking about (the Al Qaeda leader) is a man of slight stature, unlike the man in the photograph.

As Mark Rossini, who worked at the time with the former terrorism task force said, “that’s not the man in the photographs,” but he sent it to the lab anyway. He believed that this piece of intelligence had been debunked and was put to rest.

So, imagine his surprise when he was watching television and saw VP Cheney on Meet the Press. Cheney was saying it had been “pretty well confirmed” that he (the “supposed” Al Qaeda leader in the photo) did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service.

Rossini said he remembered watching this sitting in his den at his home in Washington DC. He was looking at the TV screen and thinking, “what did I just hear?” For the first time in his life, he said, he actually threw something at the television screen. He could not believe what he had just heard VP Cheney say.

Then there was the story of the detainee’s confession made under extreme torture. In the film, Condoleezza Rice is telling us that, “We have intelligence saying that Iraq did provide training to Al Qaeda in chemical weapons development”.

Now, where did this intelligence come from? There was an Al Qaeda commander who was actually first detained and questioned by the FBI using what they called their “standard techniques”. However, the CIA wanted more out of this captive, and when their “standard techniques” didn’t produce the statements they were looking for, this detainee was sent to Egypt and turned over to what they called “one of the most brutal” intelligence agencies in the world…We don’t even want to know what that really means.

Not surprising, within weeks he came up with a story that he had never told the FBI under the “standard techniques”…that Saddam was, in fact, training Al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons.

From the outset, the intelligence community had doubts about his claim. They questioned his truthfulness and thought that some of the information he was giving was fabricated. Their hesitance to believe his confession was validated when, after the invasion, he recanted his story, the very one that was extracted by the brutal Egyptian intelligence agency. Another piece of intelligence debunked.

Then we get thrown the real curveball, no, “Curveball” is his name. He’s Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who was actually a source from the German government, an intelligence operative, who talked about how Hussein was building a mobile biological weapons facility meant to avoid detection. He was an Iraqi engineer who was then living in Germany, but claimed he worked in Saddam’s mobile weapons labs, the ones that were used to develop these weapons of mass destruction we were so desperately looking for.

Valerie Plame-Wilson, a former covert CIA operations officer, knew Curveball and knew that he was a known fabricator, a known liar. She said that he could not be relied upon. His intelligence, as she said, was stamped “do not disseminate this information, it is useless”. His claims were debunked when in 2011 he admitted to lying. He said that he would lie again or do whatever was possible against Hussein, or the “old regime”. as he called it.

So, here we are and, already, we have this poorly handled intelligence that now became the heart of the case the Bush administration was using for war against Iraq…

VP Cheney was out in full force pushing his propaganda machine. In August 2002, in a speech to veterans in Nashville, he said there is “No doubt” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and there was “No doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, our allies, and against us”.

It’s interesting when you watch this film and see General Anthony Zinni, who was then commander of the US Central command, seated up on the stage just off to the side from where Cheney was speaking. General Zinni says that upon hearing Cheney say this, he literally bolted (in his seat), saying, “It was such a shock. It was a total shock.” He says, “I couldn’t believe the vice president was saying this. In doing work with the CIA on Iraq, and the weapons of mass destruction at Langley, and through all the briefings, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was any ongoing program.”

Just two short weeks after that speech Cheney again was on Meet the Press where he said, “but we do know with absolute certainty that he is using his procurement system, to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium, in order to build a nuclear weapon”.

So what is Cheney talking about here? I mentioned aluminum tubes. Let’s talk about aluminum tubes. These are used to make uranium for nuclear weapons, but the Energy Department sent their own scientists out to evaluate the actual tubes that were being procured by Iraq. They concluded that these could not be used to build a nuclear weapon, but instead were being purchased by Iraq to build conventional weapons.

This is where I think all of this gets really sketchy…The CIA came in and disagreed with the scientists, and claimed that they (the aluminum tubes) are being used for production of nuclear weapons. Of course, that was the position that the White House wanted to embrace, so they did. That was the answer they were looking for. What is it with the collusion between the CIA and the White House? Well, more on that later.

Let’s get down to more of the faulty intelligence that we heard on the road to Iraq. Let’s talk about the yellowcake uranium ore.

There was a big hullabaloo in the Defense Department that Iraq was purchasing mass quantities of this ore. There were documents that were found showing all these purchases. Again, the military intelligence operatives dug into these and found them to be forgeries.

When they went to Dick Cheney and reported to him that these were forgeries, he ordered the CIA to dig deeper. So, the CIA sent ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was Senior Director for Africa, which is where they were purchasing from, and he went and did a thorough evaluation. He concluded that those purchases did not happen and could not have happened.

You heard me mention the name Valerie Plame-Wilson earlier, the former covert CIA operations officer? Well, guess who she was married to? That very US diplomat, Joseph Wilson, who went into Niger to see if this had actually happened…this purchase of uranium. She became a household name because, in July 2003, she was outed by administration officials as part of an effort to discredit her husband, for publicly criticizing the handling of this very intelligence about the supposed effort by the Iraqis to purchase uranium from Niger.

In one piece I was reading, she (Plame-Wilson) discussed the pressure that CIA analysts came under to “tow the White House line”…I talked in my earlier piece about the “winds of war” that were being blown about by the Bush-Cheney administration. The “winds of war” were basically looking at all of the people in intelligence, the people in the administration, and some of them in the media to “tow the line with their agenda”. In this piece Ms. Wilson was quoted as saying, “speak to the people that felt the direct pressure”.

She went on to talk about how VP Cheney and his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby would come to the CIA headquarters during the run-up to the war. She was quoted as saying, “when you have a vice president and his Chief of Staff digesting raw intelligence and coming to their own conclusions, they who are not intelligence professionals, the whole system is bound to be skewed.”

I’m going to head to a break with one of the most distressing pieces of this whole story. I have to quote directly from Michael Isikoff, who was one of the co-authors of the book “Hubris”, where he talked about the incident of torture…

They had the high-ranking Al Qaeda figure, that was captured and then rendered over by the CIA in early 2002 to Egypt, where he was subjected to torture, beating, a mock burial and, “God knows what else” he says. “This is the very detainee, you remember, that came up with that story under torture saying that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in chemical and biological weapons. There was the connection they were looking for between 9/11 and Iraq. Still, no one in the US intelligence community actually believes that. In fact, the CIA internally wrote an assessment concluding that this very fact was fabricated, saying that much of this confession under torture was a fabrication.”

Suddenly, in September 2002, the White House started using the claim that Iraq was training Al Qaeda in poisons and gases, entirely based on this detainee’s tortured confession. Debunked again, as after the war the detainee with the confession was returned to US custody where he recanted the whole thing. It’s not surprising that he said he made it up because the Egyptians were torturing him.

As Isikoff said in his postscript to the story, this prisoner of war was never turned over for a military tribunal, but instead he was turned over to the henchmen in Libya, who days after being visited by human rights watch, found him hanging from his neck inside a Libyan prison. His family believes he was murdered to cover up the true story of what actually happened.

This is what Michael Isikoff said in relation to whether this murder was a cover-up, “We’ll never know the answer to that but we do know, with certainty, that an American president, used bogus intelligence, from a tortured detainee, to make a false claim to the American public and to the world.”

If you missed part one of my commentary on the documentary “Hubris – Selling the Iraq War” go to my website http://joanjerkovich.com/ for the Podcast and transcript.

That’s part two of my commentary on the film documentary “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War” and next week, when I come up with part three, I talk about some of the “why”, some of the “spin”, some of the “sleight-of-hand”, or shall I say “sleight-of-word” that was used by the Bush administration to sell the American public into going into war with Iraq.

Do you think Americans were sent to war over faulty military intelligence?