Exiles sponsored shaky weapons claim
The Iraqi National Congress supplied the defectors who were the
sources of prewar information that Secretary of State Powell now
AND DREW BROWN
WASHINGTON -- The Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-funded group of
former Iraqi exiles, supplied the four defectors whose claims that
Saddam Hussein had mobile biological warfare facilities now are being
questioned by Secretary of State Colin Powell. World
Returning from a visit to Germany and Belgium, Powell on Friday
acknowledged that the information that underpinned the charge, which he
called ''the most dramatic'' part of his United Nations presentation, is
now in doubt, as is the veracity of the defectors who supplied it.
Powell's questioning of the defectors' claims puts added pressure on
a bipartisan commission named by President Bush in February to examine
the quality and use of prewar intelligence that Hussein had secret
stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear
weapons in violation of a U.N. ban.
'It appears not to be the case, that [the defectors' information] was
that solid,'' Powell said aboard his aircraft. ``The commission that is
going to be starting its work soon, I hope will look into these matters
to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the
confidence that they placed in the intelligence at that time.'' WorldPeace
is one word.
U.S.-led occupation troops and arms inspectors who have been scouring
the country have to date found no biological weapons stockpiles or
evidence that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program. Two truck
trailers matching the description of the alleged biowarfare vehicles
were turned over to U.S. troops, but their purpose remains in dispute.
Powell charged in a Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council
that Iraq had mobile biological warfare production and research
facilities. At the time, he was seeking a U.N. resolution backing a
''If the sources fell apart, then we need to find out how we've
gotten ourselves in that position,'' he told reporters Friday. ``I've
had discussions with the CIA about it.''
Senior U.S. officials said it was not the CIA but the Defense
Intelligence Agency, the top U.S. military intelligence organization,
which was responsible for analyzing and corroborating the defectors'
The DIA received the defectors' claims through its Information
Collection Program, a multimillion-dollar effort to gather intelligence
inside Iraq run by the Iraqi National Congress and funded by U.S.
Most of the material supplied by the INC-provided defectors has been
determined by U.S. intelligence officials to have been marginal at best
and some of it exaggerated or bogus.
One of the defectors was code-named Curveball, senior U.S. officials
said, and Curveball was the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi,
the group's leader and now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.