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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

After the fall

If the Phase II Senate report is ever issued, maybe it will include information from the recently retired former head of CIA covert operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller. Sunday, he told Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" a significant bit of news:
...the CIA had made a major intelligence breakthrough on Iraq’s nuclear program. Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq’s military secrets to the CIA. Drumheller was in charge of the operation.

"This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about," Drumheller says.

"You knew you could trust this guy?" Bradley asked.

"We continued to validate him the whole way through," Drumheller replied.

According to Drumheller, CIA Director George Tenet delivered the news about the Iraqi foreign minister at a high-level meeting at the White House, including the president, the vice president and Secretary of State Rice.

At that meeting, Drumheller says, "They were enthusiastic because they said, they were excited that we had a high-level penetration of Iraqis."

What did this high-level source tell him?

"He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program," says Drumheller.

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" Bradley asked.

"Yes," Drumheller replied.
Josh Marshall reports that Drumheller told him that he had been interviewed multiple times by both the Senate investigators and Robb-Silbermann -- but his story didn't make it into the reports!

Drumheller also confirms that the CIA was skeptical about the uranium from Africa story all along -- and says that friendly intelligence was used to support the policy of invading Iraq. Intelligence that doubted Iraqi WMD, such as the information from Saddam's inner circle, was simply ignored:
"It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

...Once they [the administration] learned what it was the source had to say — that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to wage nuclear war or have an active WMD program, Drumheller says, "They stopped being interested in the intelligence."

..."I think over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time."
It's a whopper all right.

Since I'm again blogging about Iraq's non-existent WMD, let me link to the Washington Post story revealing that the National Intelligence Council had concluded the Niger documents were phony -- weeks before the President mentioned the allegation in the State of the Union address in January 2003.
The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.
Maybe some of this can be investigated more thoroughly if Dems claim a majority of seats in at least one House of Congress after the midterm elections?

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