From January 2000 to September 2001, an Iraqi ex-pat named Rafid Ahmed Alwan detailed Sadaam Hussein's efforts to construct biological weapons of mass destruction in conversations with German intelligence (BND). This information was passed on to the CIA which, despite the skepticism voiced by Alwan's BND handlers and never having interviewed Alwan directly, relayed the intelligence provided by the man codenamed Curveball to the Bush administration in the months leading up to the war in Iraq. This testimony made up the backbone of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's March 2003 speech at the United Nations citing "eyewitness accounts" of Iraq's WMD capabilities in making the American case for invasion.
Today in the Guardian, Alwan confirms for the first time what many have suspected for years: he made the whole thing up. "I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime," an unrepentant Alwan told the paper. "I and my sons are proud of that, and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."
On the one hand, Alwan's admission is hardly surprising. Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Study Group, wrote that search for WMDs had "gone as far as feasible" back in 2005. In August of 2006, President Bush himself conceded in this White House press conference that Iraq did not possess WMDs:
Guardian reporters Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd tracked down Alwan in Karlsruhe, a medium-sized city along the French-German border. They speculate his admission "appeared to be partly a purge of conscience, partly an attempt to justify what he did," or maybe just a last-ditch attempt "to resurrect his own reputation" in the hopes of moving back to Iraq. They acknowledge Curveball's attempted "reinvention as a liberator and patriot is a tough sell to many in the CIA, the BND and in the Bush administration, whose careers were terminally wounded" by his fabrications.
Alwan's motives, not surprisingly, were of little interest to pundits based in those countries that devoted seven years of blood and treasure to the fight in Iraq. "Yet another nail in the coffin of those who claim that the intelligence was clear about the alleged threat," writes Guardian columnist Carnie Ross. "We should name this process for what it was: the manufacture of a lie." Wonkette's Ken Layne echoed the sentiment. "Tell whatever lies you want for whatever ends you desire. That is the lesson."
But that doesn't mean you can't have a good laugh about it--Bush did: