Informant who lied about WMDs goes public

The Takeaway

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who openly admitted to fabricating intelligence about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is breaking his silence with appearances in a BBC documentary that began airing this past Sunday and will conclude next Sunday.

Janabi said he saw weapons development sites in Iraq in 2003. His testimony was cited by Secretary of Defense Colin Powell to justify to the United Nations Joint Security Council the American-led invasion of Iraq.

“Every statement I make today is backed up by sources,” Powell said. “Solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. The source was an eyewitness.”

That witness was Janabi.

In the BBC interviews however, Janabi admits he was not an eyewitness. When asked by Michael Rudin, the producer of “Modern Spies,” if he fabricated intelligence including drawings and models of mobile WBD laboratories, Janabi’s answer was simple: yes.

According to Rudin, Janabi gave false testimony in hopes of forcing Saddam Hussein from power.

“He said that his aim was to get rid of an evil dictator. He says ‘my main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq.’ And he makes the argument that so many people have suffered under his oppression,” Rudin said.

Rudin said Janabi was a German source, and his intelligence was gathered by the German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND.

“The Germans held him very tight,” Rudin said. “The CIA only got around to interviewing Curveball, this man that was absolutely central to the case for war, after the war. Not till a year after did they actually get around to interviewing him.”

According to Rudin, Janabi’s reports of WMD labs were not scrutinized because intelligence officials wanted to believe they were credible.

“No one could quite work out where these big manufacturing plants were, so the question was ‘they must be moving it around.’ When Janabi starts talking about how they have mobile laboratories that could do it, that suddenly seemed to fit all together perfectly. Because he was saying things that people wanted to believe, it was so much easier to go along with it.”

After the 2003 invasion, U.S. officials searching for WMDs reported finding two of the mobile labs Janabi had described. On further inspection, however, the labs were recognized as trailers equipped with hydrogen tanks used to inflate weather balloons.

In the BBC documentary, Powell’s former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson was also interviewed. Wilkerson said Janabi’s information was convenient for a plan that was already being put into action.

“intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy,” Wilkerson said. 

“Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and yet (Janabi’s intelligence) was absolutely essential for the case for war,” Rudin said. “There could not have been a more important human source to have checked out and double check, and those checks were never made.”

An excerpt from a Guardian interview with Janabi can be viewed on their website.

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