Colin Powell demands answers over false Iraq intelligence

The Iraqi defector recently admitted that he lied to topple Saddam Hussein.

Updated: Feb 18, 2011, 12:33 PM IST

London: Former US secretary of state Colin Powell called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain how he was given unreliable information which proved key to the US case for invading Iraq, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Powell`s landmark speech to the United Nations on February 05, 2003, cited intelligence about Iraq leader Saddam Hussein`s bioweapons programme gained from a defector, codenamed Curveball.

But the defector, real name Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admitted in an interview with The Guardian this week that he lied to topple Saddam.

Speaking to the same newspaper, Powell said: "It has been known for several years that the source called Curveball was totally unreliable.”

"The question should be put to the CIA and the DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) as to why this wasn`t known before the false information was put into the (report) sent to Congress, the president`s state of the union address and my 5 February presentation to the UN."

The defector said he lied to the BND, Germany`s secret service, by claiming in 2000 that Iraq had mobile bioweapons trucks and had built clandestine factories.

During Powell`s speech, Janabi was described as "an Iraqi chemical engineer" who "supervised one of these facilities".

Powell also claimed Janabi was present during biological agent production runs and had been at the site when an accident occurred in 1998.

Janabi was exposed as an unreliable source when the BND visited Bassil Latif, his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, who said there were no trucks or factories.

However, the BND continued to cooperate with the trained chemical engineer, and the false statements were eventually passed on to senior US policymakers by the intelligence services.

The resulting war claimed more than 100,000 civilian lives.

Bureau Report