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CIA: Learned too late informant was liar

Feb. 18, 2011 at 1:12 AM   |   Comments

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BERLIN, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Former CIA Director George Tenet made incredible claims regarding an Iraqi who played a key role in the decision to invade Iraq, a former German official said.

Tenet, the CIA head between 1997 and 2004, said Wednesday he learned "too damn late" that the Iraqi defector known as "Curveball," who was a key information source for the CIA and the German secret service, may have lied, London's The Guardian reported. Tenet said he only discovered in 2005, two years after the invasion, that the Germans had doubts about Curveball's statements that he was an eyewitness to Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program.

Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister at the time, said the Germans knew before the war that Curveball was not a reliable source. He said he passed on warnings to the CIA, and that his country was placed in a "very difficult position" when the CIA asked whether they could use Curveball's statements to justify a war in Iraq.

"On the one hand we didn't want to withhold from the (United States) any bit of relevant information we had about possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. On the other hand, we did not want to take part in any (propaganda-type) exploitation of material, which was far from proven, to justify a war," Fischer wrote in his autobiography, "I Am Not Convinced."

"We decided, therefore, that we would do our duty by sending the Americans all the information we had, together with our assessment that that information came from a deserter and that we had not verified or substantiated it ourselves, and that it could be completely wrong," Fischer said.

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