Sunday, August 21, 2005

Former Aide Terms Powell's 2003 Speech To The U.N. on Iraqi WMD "Lowest Point"

The days leading to Secretary of State Colin Powell's ill-fated 2003 speech to the United Nations on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were almost as problematic as the speech itself.

"I wish I had not been involved in it," said Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Powell's chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."

Wilkerson is one of several insiders interviewed for the CNN documentary "Dead Wrong -- Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." The program, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be "dead wrong."

A key element of that presentation to the public was Powell's Feb. 5, 2003, speech. Powell was a trusted figure, both at home and abroad -- someone who perhaps had a better reputation and broader appeal than the president himself.

Little did the American people know that the information for Powell's speech was a mish-mash of intelligence reports, some of which had come from sources deemed less than credible.

"(Powell) came through the door ... and he had in his hands a sheaf of papers, and he said, 'This is what I've got to present at the United Nations according to the White House, and you need to look at it,'" Wilkerson said in the program. "It was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

"One of the sources he was given ... had indeed been flagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a liar, a fabricator," said David Kay, who served as the CIA's chief weapons inspector in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. That source, an Iraqi defector who had never been debriefed by the CIA, was known within the intelligence community as "Curveball."

After searching Iraq for several months across the summer of 2003, Kay began e-mailing former CIA Director George Tenet to tell him the WMD evidence was falling apart. Tenet then called Powell to inform him that various pieces of his U.N. speech turned out to be false.

Wilkerson told CNN: "George actually did call the Secretary, and said, 'I'm really sorry to have to tell you. We don't believe there were any mobile labs for making biological weapons. This was the third or fourth telephone call. And I think it's fair to say the Secretary and Mr. Tenet, at that point, ceased being close. I mean, you can be sincere and you can be honest and you can believe what you're telling the Secretary. But three or four times on substantive issues like that?"

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colin Powell was such a huge disappointment. He was the one person in the Bush team who had a clue. Yet, perhaps because of his military background, he saw his duty as being to the president, rather than to the people and the Constitution.

Many times, Powell had the opportunity to do the right thing, and every time, he chose the easy, and wrong, action. It's beyond disappointing; it's disgraceful.

Colin, look what your failure to tell the truth has done to the country! Shame on you!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Like all Good Republicans, it is party before country. If a lie to the UN means several thousands of Americans die, that simply is the price for making sure Dear Leader looks good. On the plus side, many corporations, like Haliburton, have made sacks of cash thanks to the war profiteer's giveaway at the Whithouse. Yay Republicans!!!!

3:36 PM  
Blogger RD Larson said...

I too had great hopes for Colin Powell. Now I see that Tushi Bushi is starting a PR campaign to "win back" people who are unhappy (!) about the current war. He will pick his spots -- VFW, ARMY BASES etc -- where none will be "allowed" to protest. They'll be screened as before. And Tushi Bushi will try to make us feel that if we don't agree we are rejecting our fine soldiers, previous soldiers, previous wars, heros, mothers (not Cindy though)and heros and the "American Way of Life." Another snarky smirk will grace the screen and carefully staged good-old-boy, I'm one of you, and I love "my people" speeches will reign (yepL) down on US.

12:56 PM  

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