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October 11, 2005
Wait, I've Changed My Mind And Decided Colin Powell Is The Most Honest Man On Earth
Yesterday I quietly and calmly explained that COLIN POWELL IS A GIGANTIC ERUPTING GEYSER OF LIES. Today I thought it might be fun to soberly and carefully describe why POWELL'S REAL NAME IS MR. BULLSHIT GOT-LIES PINOCCHIO.
Below are all the nitty-gritty details; as far as I know, this has never been laid out to this extent before. Speaking of which, I actually do have a reason for doing this beyond my own personal amusement. (Although my own personal amusement is a significant factor.) More news on this soon.
Powell has gone to great lengths to create the impression he was desperate to make sure his U.N. presentation on February 5, 2003 was 100% accurate. According to the WMD Commission, he "engaged in an intense personal effort to explore every flaw in the intelligence he was about to present to the United Nations Security Council."
Uh. Well. Hmm. Judge for yourself:
At the beginning of the presentation, Powell stated:
My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
Later in the presentation, in regards to whether Iraq had reconstituted a nuclear weapons program, he said:
...there is no doubt in my mind...
That's in public. What about in private? According to Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, after the U.N. presentation
[Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, I wonder how we'll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.
1. Powell played an intercept of a conversation between Iraqi army officers about U.N. inspections. However, when he translated what they were saying, he knowingly embellished it, turning it from evidence Iraq was complying with U.N. resolutions to evidence Iraq was violating them. Here's the conversation as Powell provided it:
They're inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.
For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.
For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo.
And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there.
However, the incriminating phrases "clean all of the areas" and "Make sure there is nothing there" do not appear in the official State Department translation:
And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas.
(Imad Khadduri was kind enough to confirm for me that the State Department translation is correct.)
This is described in Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward:
[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light...
Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of "forbidden ammo," Powell took the interpretation further: "Clean out all of the areas... Make sure there is nothing there." None of this was in the intercept. (p. 310)
2. Later in the presentation, Powell said:
We know that Saddam's son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam's numerous palace complexes.
The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) prepared two memos commenting on drafts of Powell's presentation. (They were later released as appendices to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on WMD intelligence.) And the first memo, from January 29, 2003, flagged this claim as "WEAK":
second bullet. WEAK. Qusay order to remove prohibited items from palaces.
3. Powell said:
...key files from military and scientific establishments have been placed in cars that are being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to avoid detection.
The January 29, 2003 INR memo flagged this claim as "WEAK":
last bullet. WEAK. Sensitive files being driven around in cars, in apparent shell game. Plausibility open to question.
This claim was again flagged in the second INR memo, from February 3, 2003:
Page 4, last bullet, re key files being driven around in cars to avoid inspectors. This claim is highly questionable and promises to be targeted by critics and possibly UN inspection officials as well.
...we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing [sic] rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq.
last bullet. WEAK. Missiles with biological warheads reportedly dispersed. This would be somewhat true in terms of short-range missiles with conventional warheads, but is questionable in terms of longer-range missiles or biological warheads.
Page 5. first para, claim re missile brigade dispersing rocket launchers and BW warheads. This claim too is highly questionable and might be subjected to criticism by UN inspection officials.
5. Powell described a satellite picture this way:
The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions...
The truck you [...] see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong.
***/WEAK. We support much of this discussion, but we note that decontamination vehiclesÃ¢â‚¬â€cited several times in the textÃ¢â‚¬â€are water trucks that can have legitimate uses...
...Iraq has given UNMOVIC what may be a plausible account for this activityÃ¢â‚¬â€that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives; presence of a fire safety truck (water truck, which could also be used as a decontamination vehicle) is common in such an event.
These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.
Numerous references to humint as fact. (E.g., "We know that...) We have been told that some are being adjusted, but we gather some othersÃ¢â‚¬â€such as information involving multiple-corroborationÃ¢â‚¬â€will stay...In the Iraq context, "multiple corroboration" hardly guarantees authenticity of information.
...in mid-December weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there.
last bullet. **/WEAK. Iraqi intelligence officials posing as WMD scientists. Such claims are not credible and are open to criticism, particularly by the UN inspectorates.
On orders from Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials issued a false death certificate for one scientist, and he was sent into hiding.
second bullet. WEAK. Alleged false death certificate for scientist. Not implausible, but UN inspectors might question it. (Note: Draft states it as fact.)
A dozen [WMD] experts have been placed under house arrest, not in their own houses, but as a group at one of Saddam Hussein's guest houses.
second bullet. WEAK. 12 experts reportedly under house arrest... Highly questionable.
In the middle of January, experts at one facility that was related to weapons of mass destruction, those experts had been ordered to stay home from work to avoid the inspectors. Workers from other Iraqi military facilities not engaged in elicit [sic] weapons projects were to replace the workers who'd been sent home.
WEAK. Experts at one facility being substituted by workers from other facilities. Plausibility open to question.
UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons.
...the claim that experts agree UAVs fitted with spray tanks are "an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons" is WEAK.
Most U.S. experts think [the seized aluminum tubes] are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Other experts, and the Iraqis themselves, argue that they are really to produce the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher.
An October 15, 2003 60 Minutes II program interviewed Houston Wood, a consultant to Oak Ridge National Laboratories and one of the world's foremost experts on uranium enrichment:
PELLEY: (Voiceover) The New York Times reported that senior administration officials insisted the tubes were for an atom bomb program. Was it clear to you that science wasn't pushing this forward?
Mr. WOOD: Yes. That's a very good way to put it. Science was not pushing this forward. Scientists had made their evaluation and made their determination, and now we didn't know what was happening...Most experts are located in Oak Ridge, and that was not the position there.
PELLEY: Do you know one in academia, in government, in a foreign country who disagrees with your appraisal, who says, 'Yes, these are for nuclear weapons'?
Mr. WOOD: I don't know a single one anywhere.
...it strikes me as quite odd that these [aluminum] tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets. Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.
Our key remaining concern is the claim that the tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that "far exceeds US requirements for comparable rockets." In fact, the most comparable US system is a tactical rocketÃ¢â‚¬â€the US Mark 66 air-launched 70mm rocketÃ¢â‚¬â€that uses the same, high-grade (7075-T6) aluminum, and that has specifications with similar tolerances. Note that the Mk 66 specifications are unclassified, and the Department is planning to share them with the IAEA.
Now, with that for context, let's look back at what Powell said last month in his interview with Barbara "Living Dead" Walters:
There was some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.
This can be contrasted with this October, 2003 exchange from 60 Minutes II with Greg Thielmann, who headed the office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the INR until September 2002:
PELLEY: If the secretary took the information that his own intelligence bureau had developed and turned it on its head, which is what you're saying, to what end?
Mr. THIELMANN: I can only assume that he was doing it to loyally support the president of the United States and build the strongest possible case for arguing that there was no alternative to the use of military force.
And there you have it: Colin Powell, American Liar.Posted at October 11, 2005 07:17 AM | TrackBack