Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Curveball and the Trucks

U.S- Iraq

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 19:49

by Malcom Lagauche

PalestineFreeVoice - (The recent news that the person nicknamed “Curveball” lied to German authorities before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq is making headlines. The media make this sound like it is Earth-shattering. Even some CIA officials expressed shock and dismay at his current confession. How disingenuous. At the time of his revelations, even a nitwit could tell he was lying. Here is a chapter from my book The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War released in October 2008. Currently, Powell is on a speaking tour of the US in which he tells how to becoime successful and rich. If one uses his formula, it is quite uncomplicated: lie and kill a few milliion people.)

A couple of 15-year-old vehicles made world headlines in 2002. At first, the U.S. and British administrations heralded them as conclusive proof of Iraq concealing biological weapons. We all heard of the Iraqi “mobile germ factories” that traveled the highways of the country to keep from getting discovered. Dick Cheney said that inside these vehicles the most devastating germs were being manufactured and the Iraqis were going to pelt the east coast of the U.S. with a deadly brew that would kill millions. Cheney maintained that these germ weapons would be carried by secret drone aircraft that Iraq was developing.

Actually, there were a few drones being manufactured in Iraq and the Iraqis showed them to the world. They were made of balsa wood, had a range of about 25 miles and were used for mapping purposes. The east coast of the U.S. was a few thousand miles out of their range.

The actual importance of the two vehicles, alleged to be biological weapons factories, is minuscule, but their use for propaganda and the subsequent discovery that they were only used to pump hydrogen into weather balloons, put them on center-stage in world affairs.

The April 12, 2006 edition of the Washington Post ran a feature article, “Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War,” that brought back the subject the administration would rather the world forget. According to the article:

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile “biological laboratories.” He declared, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq — not made public until now — had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement.

The administration wasted no time in turning the issue around. At a hastily-called press conference, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan accused the media of unfair reporting. He did not answer questions about whether Bush knew of the results of the team of experts. If Bush did not know the information, McClellan would have quickly come forth with a reply. In this instance, silence seemed to be damning.

In addition to not being forthright with the issue, McClellan demanded an apology from the press for running the article. According to the Associated Press article “White House Defends Stand on Iraqi Trailers:”

McClellan dismissed the Post article and a report based on it that aired on ABC News Wednesday morning as irresponsible. He said ABC News should apologize and took issue with the way the Post story was written.

In 2002, these trucks took on a life of their own. They became dastardly vehicles to be used to cause a cataclysmic event in the U.S. that would be unprecedented in history. During this time, the Iraqi government had publicly stated that the trucks were used to fill weather balloons with hydrogen, but the U.S. public was told that you can’t trust the Iraqis because they lie and the U.S. doesn’t.

By November 2002, reports of these trucks, fueled by White House propaganda, began appearing in newspapers and magazines. Even the UCLA School of Public Health jumped on the bandwagon to create paranoia. On November 17, 2002, it ran an article from the Los Angeles Times called “Inspectors to Scour Iraq for Mobile Weapons Labs.” It was published in the “Bioterrorism” section of its website. Here are a few gems from the article:

    * Rumbling along Iraq’s highways or threading their way through crowded streets, these mobile weapons labs may look like ice cream trucks, motor homes or 18-wheeler tractor trailer trucks, officials and experts say. But their cargo is believed to be germ agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin that theoretically could kill hundreds of thousands in an attack.
    * Dubbed “Winnebagos of death,” the anonymous vehicles are hard to locate, even with sophisticated sensors.
    * If the labs evade detection, U.S. intelligence analysts fear, the officers or scientists who operate them might try to use germ agents in a desperate counterattack or spirit the materials away to sell to terrorists or foreign governments.
    * If such materials fall into the hands of a group such as Al Qaeda, that would turn the military campaign into what “could be the greatest proliferation disaster in history,” said Daniel Benjamin, a former National Security Council official and co-author of The Age of Secret Terror.
    * The British and German governments, and the CIA and Pentagon, have all asserted the existence of the mobile labs in separate reports this year.

Here’s what Colin Powell said of the two trucks in his infamous deluge of lies he told the world in February 2003 at the U.N.:

    * Iraq’s mobile BW program began in the mid-1990s — this is reportedly when the units were being designed.
    * The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities.
    * Iraq manufactured mobile trailers and railcars to produce biological agents, which were designed to evade U.N. weapons inspectors. Agent production reportedly occurred Thursday night through Friday when the U.N. did not conduct inspections in observance of the Moslem holy day.
    * An accident occurred in 1998 during a production run, which killed 12 technicians — an indication that Iraq was producing a BW agent at that time.

The CIA issued a report on May 28, 2003, without the knowledge of the secret team’s assessment of the truth behind the trucks, that smacked of the same preposterous allegations made by almost every pro-war reporter or politician in the Western world. Here is the overview of the report titled “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants:”

Coalition forces have uncovered the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.

The design, equipment, and layout of the trailer found in late April is strikingly similar to descriptions provided by a source who was a chemical engineer that managed one of the mobile plants. Secretary of State Powell’s description of the mobile plants in his speech in February 2003 to the United Nations was based primarily on reporting from this source.

Both Powell and the CIA cite an Iraqi chemical engineer who supposedly worked on the trucks and also told of 12 deaths. This source was discredited long before either Powell or the CIA used his bogus testimony.

An Iraqi who defected to Germany in 1999 was the originator of these falsehoods. His given nickname was “Curveball,” a designation of his slippery and swerving testimony. After the Germans heard the lies, they contacted the CIA with the information, but told the U.S. intelligence organization that he could not be trusted and said they would not give any credence to his information. The Germans described Curveball as a person not living in Iraq and as an “out of control” and mentally deranged alcoholic. One CIA report stated that Curveball was “a con artist who drove a taxi in Iraq.” This description was not seen by many because the neocon Office of Special Plans overrode CIA information when it deemed it necessary to keep the war plans on schedule.

Curveball was a drunken liar who was paid to say things that the U.S. wanted to hear. He gained an easy payday for a while and then was taken off the payroll when it was discovered he was a fraud. The U.S. failed to listen to the Germans about Curveball’s dubious character.

On June 15, 2003, British newspapers wrote the truth about the two trucks and caused great embarrassment to Tony Blair because he went along with the U.S. script on the use of the vehicles. According to the Observer, in an article titled “Iraqi Mobile Labs Nothing To Do With Germ Warfare, Report Finds:”

An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis continued to insist.

A British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told the Observer last week, “They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were — facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.”

Never have two old beaten up trucks gained the mythical status of the two Iraqi vehicles used for producing hydrogen. Millions and millions of dollars were spent on propaganda that elevated their standing to that of world-threatening devices that could kill millions of people instantly. An unknown Iraqi drunkard had his 15 minutes of fame and improved his finances immensely because of the trucks. More than a million Iraqi lives were lost because of the lies used to describe them.

On March 13, 2007, ABC News ran a story about Curveball. Despite people knowing of his real identity and calling for caution in 2003 about his testimony, the ABC report shocked much of the U.S. population because they had never heard of Curveball.

Powell got much mileage from Curveball’s lies at the U.N. in February 2003 when he told the world of the dastardly Iraqi mobile biological weapons factories. During the March 13, 2007 ABC News report, the commentator mentioned Powell’s assessment of the old story turned new. According to ABC News, “Powell said he is furious with what happened and his former chief of staff says he feels deceived.”

The perpetrator became the victim. Powell could have refused to bring up the mobile biological weapons factories (years later, he said he was not convinced with the information), but he put on an Academy Award performance in front of the world. That presentation led to the destruction of a country and the deaths of more than a million Iraqis and thousands of U.S. military personnel. These facts did not bother him as he worried only about his image and legacy.

While speaking to the U.N. in February 2003, Colin Powell told the world that Iraq’s mobile BW program began in the mid-1990s and that was the time the trucks were being designed. In reality, they were sold to the Iraqi army by the British firm Marconi Command and Control in 1987 as trucks to carry and fill weather balloons.

Depiction of Iraqi mobile biological weapons trucks as described by Colin Powell in February 2003. According to his tesimony, each truck had two accompanying vehicles to help produce the lethal agents.


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