Sunday, November 20, 2005



The LA Times is running a long, chronological narrative of intelligence community incompetence today discussing a key Iraqi informant dubbed "curveball."

"How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball'",0,2053900,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

You've probably read it all before... This was the fellow that apparently spun the story of the Iraqi biological weapons production trucks from his own imagination into a major part of the President's case for war... Spun it, that is, with the help of the intelligence [dis]services of at least three Nations...

Those who either aren't familiar with this saga or believe GWB deserves 100% of the blame for any Iraqi mis-steps need to read this carefully. Maybe you'll read this differently than I. What I read is the story of an international professional community whose outputs help to define the political relations between all the world's Nations...

Run completely amok. Lost in agenda-driven politics. Susceptible to almost comical gullibility.

Taken in by a loon...

The tale begins with the arrival of an anonymous Iraqi "chemical engineer" in Germany in 1999. One of many who attempted to gain State favor by providing intelligence, "Curveball" apparently lucked out by telling the right people what they wanted to hear. The information perked piecemeal through the intelligence services of Britain and the US over the next three years. By the time the fact-checkers tediously began to unravel the claims, the information was enshrined as fact zealously protected by people who wanted to believe it and had staked their reputations on it.

And all this before it got anywhere near the inner circles of GWB's administration.

Sympathy for the devil...

I remember - a lot of us remember - that GWB had long publically espoused the view that Iraq was "unfinished business." We remember he voiced this view as a candidate in 2000. We know he wanted Saddam Hussein destroyed.

A lot of us think he and his senior people picked and chose among the information available to make the case for war. But just how many people are so morbid as to think they penned it outright themselves?

Let's just say the President had went to CIA in 2002 and said "I want evidence of Iraqi violations worthy of war and I don't care where you get it." It's a doubtful muse but let's just say.

And let's say the reply was "Mr President, no such evidence exists." Do you think the President could have invented this with the entire intelligence community against him?

I don't. And I don't think he would have made the attempt.

In any case he didn't have to. There were a whole gaggle of bureaucrats in three countries that were busy digging everywhere for anything according to their own purposes to support their own agendas. They were hard at it long before GWB was elected. They prodded, they edited; they ran over their fellows who objected to the prodding and editing.

They gave GWB curveball. They threw him all kinds of curveballs...

I have to wonder - I think Americans should ask - what curveballs are they concocting today? Garbage in, garbage out. Where in the world will the garbage mis-lead us next? On what wild errand will the GIGO team help send our army, and who will die for nothing more than a fool who wanted safe haven and was willing to say anything to get it?

When enough time has finally passed for history to recount this sorry episode, let's hope the recounters remember not just the President who believed the story he wanted to believe but also the liars who gave him the lie to believe.

And let's hope the next chapter they write is about the lied-to President who later went after the liars.

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