Monday 23 April 2018

Iraqi war intelligence based on lie, spy claims

Tom Whitehead and Duncan Gardham

KEY intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq 10 years ago was based on "fabrication" and "wishful thinking", a documentary claims today.

The US and UK are accused of relying on questionable information that suggested Saddam Hussein was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), despite warnings over its authenticity.

At the same time, other foreign intelligence that suggested no such programme existed was dismissed, according to a BBC 'Panorama' investigation.

One Iraqi spy – codenamed 'Curveball' – whose claims to have witnessed the manufacture of WMD were seized upon by the US, told the programme that the invasion had been based on his "lie".

Lord Butler, who, a year after the invasion, carried out a review of the intelligence used by Britain, admitted that he was unaware that two senior members of Saddam's regime had secretly told the CIA and MI6 that WMD did not exist.

The documentary will re-ignite questions over the legality and justification of the Iraq war. The war, which started on March 20, 2003, lasted more than six years and claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis.

The war remains unfinished business, with questions remaining about the legality of the invasion and the conduct of British and American troops.

Tonight's 'Panorama: The Spies Who Fooled The World' reports how claims from a few sources that Iraq was manufacturing WMD spiralled into apparently sound intelligence that was used to justify the war.

In his first television interview on the subject, August Hanning, the former head of German intelligence, said that Curveball (real name Rafed Al Janabi) told the German secret services that he had witnessed the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons.

The information was passed to American and British intelligence, along with concerns about its reliability, he said.

Tyler Drumheller, the former head of the CIA in Europe, also claimed that he passed warnings about Curveball's claims up the chain of command, while Mr Hanning said he sent a cable to George Tenet, who was then director of the CIA.

Mr Tenet denies receiving the warnings, the programme said.

Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, said US colleagues were warned about the information.

However, he told 'Panorama': "They were not in a state or a mindset to be warned."

Peter Taylor, a 'Panorama' reporter, asked Curveball: "The fact is, we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie."

"Yes," he replied, smiling.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News