Now that the truth about this propaganda has been revealed, we can expect that those who constructed it – Tony Blair, Dick Cheney et al – will now amend their usual arguments to suggest that they were innocently misled by evidence such as Curveball's. After all, if a defector claimed that there was a substantial bio-weapons programme, as "Curveball" did, how could they know that he was lying? Again, we will be confronted with the "not my fault!" excuse from those who manufactured the case for an avoidable war.
But once again, they are trying to mislead. Here's why. ...
Given the complexity of the data, no single source could ever be taken as authoritative. And the least convincing sources – by their very nature – were defectors. We knew full well that, for very understandable reasons, defectors had a powerful incentive to exaggerate the nature of Iraq's development of WMD. They hated Saddam and wanted him gone. Long before Curveball, there were other defectors who made sometimes wild claims about Iraq's weapons programmes. I remember one report that suggested Iraq had armed its Scud missiles (none of which, in fact, existed, it later emerged) with nuclear warheads, ready to be launched at Israel and other targets. Defector intelligence was, therefore, lowest in the hierarchy of evidence; photographic or signals intercepts were, for obvious reasons, treated as more plausible.
Each piece of evidence, whatever its source, was first subjected to rigorous cross-checking before inclusion in overall analyses. All sources of intelligence suffered from particular deficits: Iraq knew that its signals were monitored and thus limited its communications traffic; it also hid any WMD activity under roofs in military and civilian sites, thereby limiting the value of overhead reconnaissance. So, all evidence had to be tested by the simple method of seeking corroboration from other sources. This method was used across Whitehall, and in the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office in particular, and was the basis for the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments of the WMD threat, several of which I contributed to. In the years I worked on the subject (1997-2002), the picture produced by this method was very clear: there was no credible evidence of substantial stocks of WMD in Iraq.
And it was this method – clearly – that was abandoned in advance of the war. Instead of a careful cross-checking of evidence, reports that suited the story of an imminent Iraqi threat were picked out, polished and formed the basis of public claims like Colin Powell's presentation to the UN security council, or the No 10 dossier. This was exactly how a false case for war was constructed: not by the deliberate creation of a falsehood, but by willfully and secretly manipulating the evidence to exaggerate the importance of reports like Curveball's, and to ignore contradictory evidence. This was a subtle process, elaborated from report to report, in such a way that allowed officials themselves to believe that they were not deliberately lying – more editing, perhaps, or simplifying for public presentation.
Chicago Sun-Times : Rumsfeld's Book Shows How He Pulled Wool Over Our Eyes.
New York Times: Simply the Worst.
The Hill: In New Book, Rumsfeld Knows Best.
Did Clinton not give them "space to breathe"? Was that really all they needed? And would Iraq have fixed itself too?
Would X years under Hussein have been better than the human cost of the war? How an we know that when we don't even know X? It's all just a big guessing game.
...there is another way for the bloodshed to stop, and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and to comply with the UN resolutions.
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