CBS Marks Iraq War Anniversary by Hitting Bush Administration on WMD Intel

On Sunday's 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent Bob Simon noted the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq by describing how "questions still remain as to why the United States launched the war in the first place. The Bush administration said it was because of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But there were no such weapons."
                        
In the segment that followed, Simon interviewed Rafid Alwan – also know by his code-name 'Curve Ball' – a former Iraqi chemical engineer who claimed the Hussein regime was pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Before the interview Simon implored viewers to "ponder how anyone could ever have believed one word he [Alwan] said." After the interview, Simon concluded that the Bush administration had fallen for "one of the deadliest con jobs in history" by listening to Alwan and going to war in Iraq.

Simon framed the segment as a story of the Bush administration being so desperate to go to war with Iraq that it was willing to listen to any source: "Tyler Drumheller was the CIA's European Division chief at the time. He says when doubts were raised inside the agency over Curve Ball, the skeptics were shouted down....Curve Ball had already provided what the Bush administration needed to beat the war drums against Saddam Hussein."

Simon failed to make any mention of the conflict nearing its end or of the successful 2007 troop surge.

Below are portions of the March 13 60 Minutes segment. Read the full story here.

7:05PM ET

BOB SIMON: Next Saturday will mark the eighth anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq. And after all this time, questions still remain as to why the United States launched the war in the first place. The Bush administration said it was because of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But there were no such weapons.

So how did U.S. intelligence get it so wrong? Incredibly, it was all because of one man – an Iraqi defector code-named 'Curve Ball' – who spun a web of lies which convinced America's top spies. His allegations became the crown jewel of the case Colin Powell made to the United Nations before the war.

Three years ago we told you part of this story. But we were missing one crucial element: Curve Ball himself. We couldn't find him. Well, finally, we did. So tonight, we're going to introduce you to the man and ask you to ponder how anyone could ever have believed one word he said.


(...)

SIMON: Tyler Drumheller was the CIA's European Division chief at the time. He says when doubts were raised inside the agency over Curve Ball, the skeptics were shouted down.

TYLER DRUMHELLER: There were meetings that were so angry and so violent. You know, people cursing at each other, and yelling, 'How dare you question us?'"

SIMON: Curve Ball had already provided what the Bush administration needed to beat the war drums against Saddam Hussein.

CHARLES DUELFER [LEADER OF UN INSPECTIONS TEAM IN IRAQ]: He offered the best rationale for the course of action that the White House elected to take. The fundamental argument on weapons of mass destruction did pivot on this guy, Curve Ball.

SIMON: To make that argument before the world, President Bush selected the most trusted man in his administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell. Could Secretary Powell have given his speech to the United Nations that he did give if there hadn't been a Curve Ball?

DRUMHELLER: I don't think so. There would have been nothing else to talk about, except things that had been talked about a million times before.

COLIN POWELL: What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

SIMON: On Feb. 5, 2003, Powell stated with no qualifications that Saddam Hussein had mobile biological weapons. The only source for that? A man no American had ever questioned, Curve Ball.

(...)

[RAFID ALWAN (AKA CURVE BALL) WALKS OUT OF INTERVIEW]

SIMON: And with that Rafid Alwan, the man who pulled off one of the deadliest con jobs in history, disappeared back into the shadows.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC