“Curveball,” the man whose lies about weapons of mass destruction helped form the basis for invading Iraq, has come clean in an interview with the BBC, as reported by British news site the Independent.
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, whose CIA cryptonym is Curveball, is an Iraqi chemical engineer who defected from Iraq in 1999 and subsequently invented claims about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.
On the BBC interview Modern Spies, when Janabi is told “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie,” he responds, only: “Yes.”
The story of Curveball and his fictitious reports have been narrated in newspaper articles and books, but until now, Janabi had not publicly come clean.
“My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression,” Janabi told the BBC.
The defector made his claims about WMDs seem legitimate by telling U.S. officials that he supervised the building of a mobile biological laboratory. He had not.
Then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the claims as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” when he made the case for war with Iraq at the U.N. Security Council in February 2003.
Janabi’s claims were disproved a year later by the Iraq Survey Group's final report.
After the 2003 invasion, U.S. officials also said they had found two of Janabi's mobile labs. The pair of mysterious trailers were actually hydrogen-generation facilities used by Iraqis to inflate weather balloons.
In addition to Janabi, the BBC program also interviewed Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff. BBC asked Wilkerson about reports that U.S. officials doctored the defector's drawings of the laboratory, to make them seem more valid.
“I brought the White House team in to do the graphic,” Wilkerson tells the BBC, “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy.”
“I don't see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn't feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence,” Wilkerson also said.
One final tidbit revealed in the interview: why the FBI zeroed in on Russian spy Anna Chapman Top U.S. officials feared she could compromise a senior official in a “honey trap.”
Read the full story at the Independent.