Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Man who Knew: More about the Lies

[2003 October 15]

The story is still the same as the previous reports; the War in Iraq is still struggling, there is still daily geurilla attacks, nearly daily deaths of American soldiers, and still no proof for any of the claims used to create this war.

In todays news is an interview with several former U.S. Intelligence officials who are aghast at the misrepresentations used to create this war.
[Oct. 15, 2003; CBS News;] The Man Who Knew In the run-up to the war in Iraq, one moment seemed to be a turning point: the day Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make the case for the invasion.
I covered the evidence he presented on this page: The "case" for War
The article interviews the following people:
  • Greg Thielmann, a former expert on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. ... Thielmann's last job at the State Department was director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs, which was responsible for analyzing the Iraqi weapons threat for Secretary Powell.
  • Houston Wood was a consultant who worked on the Oak Ridge analysis of the tubes. [The aluminum tubes claimed to be for centrifuging Uranium.]
  • Steve Allinson, a U.N. inspector in Iraq in the months leading up to war.
The first interesting thing is the range of reactions these Intelligence officials had to Powell's testimony to the U.N. in Feb 2003. This testimony was intended to lay a serious and believable case to justify war. So how did these high ranking Intelligence officials react?
“I had a couple of initial reactions. Then I had a more mature reaction,” says Thielmann, commenting on Powell's presentation to the United Nations. “I think my conclusion now is that it's probably one of the low points in his long, distinguished service to the nation.”
“I guess I was angry, that’s the best way to describe my emotions. I was angry at that,” says Wood, who is among the world’s authorities on uranium enrichment by centrifuge. He found the tubes couldn’t be what the CIA thought they were. They were too heavy, three times too thick and certain to leak.
Allinson watched Powell’s speech in Iraq with a dozen U.N. inspectors. There was great anticipation in the room. Like waiting for the Super Bowl, they always suspected the U.S. was holding back its most damning evidence for this moment. What was the reaction among the inspectors as they watched the speech? “Various people would laugh at various times because the information he was presenting was just, you know, didn't mean anything, had no meaning,” says Allinson.
Hardly encouraging, is it?

As Powell said at the time:
“The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction pose to the world,” said Powell.
Yes, it was a very grave moment. The steps to create a war are ones which ought to be taken carefully, because people will be dieing as a result of your decision. Thousands of people have died since the decision to launch this war. I would wish that the claims he made that day were true, and that I did not have to be writing this. I would rather know that those people had died in a just cause, not a misbegotten lie.
But Thielmann also says that he believes the decision to go to war was made first, and then the intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion. For example, he points to the evidence behind Powell’s charge that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes to use in a program to build nuclear weapons.

... Intelligence agents intercepted the tubes in 2001, and the CIA said they were parts for a centrifuge to enrich uranium - fuel for an atom bomb. But Thielmann wasn’t so sure. Experts at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the scientists who enriched uranium for American bombs, advised that the tubes were all wrong for a bomb program. At about the same time, Thielmann’s office was working on another explanation. It turned out the tubes' dimensions perfectly matched an Iraqi conventional rocket.
“The aluminum was exactly, I think, what the Iraqis wanted for artillery,” recalls Thielmann, who says he sent that word up to the Secretary of State months before.
It wasn't just the fateful 16 words everybody points at, the ones claiming that Iraq was seeking Uranium when the administration knew very well Iraq was doing no such thing. The administration also knew the tubes could not be used for centrifuging Uranium, the Uranium the administration knew didn't exist, but were instead rocket parts.
“Science was not pushing this forward. Scientists had made their determination their evaluation and now we didn’t know what was happening,” says Wood.

In his U.N. speech, Secretary Powell acknowledged there was disagreement about the tubes, but he said most experts agreed with the nuclear theory.

“There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium,” said Powell.
“Most experts are located at Oak Ridge and that was not the position there,” says Wood, who claims he doesn’t know anyone in academia or foreign government who would disagree with his appraisal. “I don’t know a single one anywhere.”
Colin Powell also gave an interview with a BBC reporter, in which he gave a rebuttal to the above claims.

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