His name is Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi but he was given the codename “Curveball” prior to the Iraq War. He played a significant role in convincing US authorities, including Colin Powell, that Saddam had biological weapons capabilities. Of course we’ve known since 2005 that claim wasn’t true, but now Curveball is admitting he made up claims of mobile weapons labs in order to get the US to topple Saddam. The Guardian has produced an exclusive video, here is a bit of the English transcript:
I did that for a number of reasons. Firstly because of my people, the Iraq people…Saddam did not allow freedom in our land. There were no other political parties. You had to believe what Saddam said, do what Saddam wanted. And I didn’t accept that.
Asked if he would do the same thing again if he could go back, Curveball doesn’t hesitate:
Yes, yes definitely. I would do something against Saddam, against the old regime.
I can’t begin to unpack the entire history of this debate in this brief post. Whether you supported the decision to go to war (and recall that at the time many Democrats did in 2003) or not, there is no doubt that this revelation fills in some important blanks.
We’ve known for six years that the weapons weren’t there. That isn’t news. But the reaction to the lack of any WMD’s in Iraq has polarized the nation into two basic camps since then. The right has seen it as an embarrassing and costly failure to get good intelligence, which nevertheless resulted in a freer and, for the time being, stable Iraq. The left has frequently claimed it was something more insidious, a lie based on some ulterior motive.
Now we know that the justification for the war really was based in part on a lie. The left can find some vindication in this fact. That said, the details presented do not support the idea that some dark cabal within the Bush administration organized our entrance into Iraq. On the contrary, we now know who the liar was and he wasn’t part of the administration. We also know why he lied, and it wasn’t to get rich off Iraqi oil, to finish what Bush 41 started or any of the other explanations the left has offered over the years. Curveball wanted to see Saddam toppled for the good of the Iraqi people.
Of course that doesn’t mean American soldiers and taxpayers should have had to go along for the ride. Conspiracies aside, there’s plenty to be upset about here. Numerous intelligence agencies failed, starting with the German BND which interviewed Curveball over a period of six months. British and American intelligence agencies failed to detect the fraud as well. The result is that we were led to war, in part, by a lie. Even if you believe the US is better off without Saddam in Iraq, you can’t be pleased about taking such a big swing on a curveball.