An Unholy Trinity: The BND, Curveball and Iraq

December 5, 2010

Pasted from my friend Julie’s blog, this is a rather interesting piece…


The German secret service, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), overestimated its top secret Iraq source ‘Curveball’, then blamed the US, and paid hush money.

According to a new German documentary (part one and two on youtube), the BND played an extensive role in providing the US government with the necessary information to justify the invasion of Iraq. Even though the government of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder fiercely opposed the Iraq war, they knew that the BND was secretly feeding the Bush administration’s policy.

Intriguingly, BND President Uhrlau distanced himself from Curveball, after it was clear he had lied to the German authorities:

With great interest I have watched the Powell speech and I have to say I was quite surprised about the evidence presented by the Americans.

The key question is: Did the German government warn the Americans about the possible unreliability of their source? Apparently they did not.

According to former CDU politician, Friedbert Pflüger, who was a member of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee at the time of the Iraq war, he himself was convinced that Saddam was in possession of WMDs, after the BND President assured the committee – before and after the Powell speech – that Curveball was a reliable source:

We explicitly asked about the briefing given to the United Nations by the American Secretary of State, Powell. Is that true? And we have not had the impression, after the disclosure of our Federal Intelligence Service, that anything was wrong with Powell’s evidence.

Below I copied parts of the press release regarding Panorama broadcast on 2 December 2010. (You can read the entire report here).

Curveball fled Iraq for Germany in 1999 under his real name, Rafid Ahmed Alwan, and came into contact with German intelligence officers at a refugee camp in Zindorf in Franconia. In dozens of interviews with German intelligence agents he reported that he had witnessed activities related to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s biochemical weapons programme while working as a chemical engineer at a company in Iraq. Among other things, he told them of mobile biological weapons labs that were housed in trucks and could purportedly evade weapons inspectors with ease. US President George Bush and his Secretary of State Colin Powell then directly cited the information provided by the BND informant to publicly justify going to war. The BND had forwarded transcripts of their interviews to the CIA, yet did not provide them with direct access to Curveball. Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 it became clear that the claim that Iraq possessed biological weapons of mass destruction was a complete fabrication.

The Panorama investigation sheds new light on the question of the extent to which German decision makers warned the Americans of the possibility that Curveball’s revelations were unreliable. With regard to the US Secretary of State’s speech at the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003, in which Powell referred to Curveball, former CDU Bundestag member Friedbert Pflüger told ARD this: “Many of the key statements made by Powell were based on information provided by our intelligence service. In a secret briefing the BND told us it was highly probable that Iraq once again had weapons of mass destruction at its disposal. We were shown charts of germ labs.” Prior to the war, Pflüger was a member of the Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was repeatedly briefed on the information Curveball was providing, by August Hanning, president of the BND at the time.

According to Panorama’s investigation, the BND paid him a net monthly income of 3000 euros until the end of 2008, disguising it as a salary payment from a front company in Munich called Thiele und Friedrichs. His employment contract gives no description of what services he actually rendered in return for the payments. Evidently, Curveball promised the BND that in return he would not speak to the media about his case. At the end of 2008, the BND terminated the employment contract, which was apparently an over ten-year employment agreement. As Panorama learnt, Curveball filed a lawsuit with the Munich employment tribunal contesting the termination of his contract and won a supplementary payment of just under 2000 euros. Since then Curveball has been receiving state benefits, most recently in the amount of 1590.82 euros.

Furthermore, Panorama reveals how the BND helped its former informant – a man who epitomises the biggest intelligence botch-up in recent decades – attain German citizenship. According to the report, two BND officers presented Curveball to officials in the City of Karlsruhe as an applicant for German citizenship. Research indicates that the BND accompanied the application process until the very end and helped furnish the necessary documentation.

Iraq and legality again…

September 27, 2010

Wars can never be illegal as they are a sovereign act of a state. To call an act of state illegal is to conflate international and domestic law; the former is merely a set of agreements between sovereign actors and is not subject to a higher or stronger authority.
The long term benefit of the war has not yet been discerned. I would argue the consequentialist line which can be heard is a selective opinion of hindsight masquerading as philosophical truth. What are the long term effects if Iraq becomes a relatively functioning democracy? We don’t know exactly but if Israel is anything to go by, it will increase the pressures in the authoritarian monarchies and dictatorships from the liberal quarters of Arab society. Am I certain about this? No, because I cannot predict the future, based as it is on so many unknowns. But this is one element never entered into the anti-war arguments: do the anti-war speakers note the day-to-day events in Iraq? Have they noted that the militant Islamist cause has been materially damaged by its attempt to turn Iraq into the major front against Zionists and Crusaders? The answer is no.
Because ultimately the anti-war camp is divided into two parts; liberal and conservative. This is not a narrow spectrum but one that presaged the political realignments taking place underneath the political surface of the West. The liberals talk of human damage, the conservatives talk of benefits and unnecessary war. Both speak of legality and financial cost without acknowledging that there are legal arguments FOR the war and that a position of legality even in the conventional sense cannot be discerned UNTIL the case is tested in a court of law – and there is no court fit to judge the merits of the Iraq War.

Chilcot Inquiry

February 7, 2010

Listening to this page from the Chilcot Inquiry. Very interesting evidence from Sir Kevin Tebbit concerning the Treasury’s shafting of the Ministry of Defence.

Update: Listening to John Reid MP giving testimony. This is a really decent man.

Oliver Kamm on Blair’s Critics

February 6, 2010

I love this chap. Erudite, concise and bloody brilliant!

Here on Blair’s Critics.

Lazy Iraqi Police Get A Motivational Speech

February 20, 2009

Fantastic video of a US soldier berating an Iraqi police unit. I have read accounts of British officers and non-coms talking like this to Iraqis. It works. This man has balls. Let’s see how many people whine about his attitude.

You bastards!

August 5, 2008

I’ve just discovered from The Times this morning that the British government cut a fucking deal with the Mahdi Army, I believe last year, not to enter Basra. So when the Iraqi government launched Operation Charge of the Knights, we sat on the fucking sidelines and did bugger all – barring a bit of air support.
How fucking dare the MOD and the Foreign Office cut a fucking deal with terrorists? Oops! Sorry, moral relativism again! You fucking bastards.

And where did he hear that?

July 16, 2008

“Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and never has been,” Obama in his recent NYT op-ed.
Ok. To whom has he been listening when he has needed evidence? I think this is still sucking up to the anti-war left, while peddling a defeatist line just this side of acceptable.
The problem is that Al-Qaeda declared Iraq to be the central front in its war against the west. But wait! We’re not going to seriously believe that Republican neo-con pro-zionist nonsense about Al-Qaeda actually being a major force in the past chaos in Iraq? Surely not. Why then we would have to trust the evidence of our own eyes!
Better to remain talking inside our heads, comrades. Much more ideologically safe there.

Excellent article on the differences between McCain and Obama, or, “He who gets it” and “surrender monkey”.

Defeatism in the West

July 13, 2008

At this moment, Israel is about to cave into Hezbollah and Hamas on virtually every demand made by those two groups in return for the bodies of two soldiers (and probably Gilad Schalit’s body too). There is a malaise of defeatism in the West that has been spread by the left-leaning intelligensia and sourced back to the religious pacifists, the collaspe of cultural identities (see Natan Sharansky) and the continued efforts of the communist and fellow-traveller groups in western academia to demoralize and disempower the west in favour of an assumed “revolutionary” movement from Islam.
The model for the current time can be found in the late 1970s and the collaspe of Iran from a forward looking state (admittedly a tyranny) to a backwards, anti-progressive Islamist tyranny that outdid the Shah’s regime for physical and mental butchery. At the time the western elites refused to believe what the Islamists led by Khomenei were both writing and proclaiming in public speeches, prefering the safety of their own assumptions and wishes. Michel Foucault slobbered over a man who would have put him to death faster than if one could say “Jack Robinson” if he had been an Iranian subject. Why? Because they were following what they wanted to see, not what was in front of them.

Now we find the same path being trodden again. We have a growing Islamist movement in the west that is emboldened by appeasement and accomadation, a left-leaning intelligensia whose imagined enemies are the working class, the right wing and apostates from a pseudo-communist correct line of thought (mulitcultural political correctness) and who see virtue as inherently located outside of their own culture. A negative, plaintive attitude has emasculated and embarressed the west and left it soft and weak.
We need a new idea of ourselves and the best people saying what this might be are the left-wing apostates such as Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitch. We need to mobilise the huge economic potential in the west and reawaken our shared values of equality before the law, the importance of the individual against the group and the humanisation of our society. What I mean by the last statement is that throughout history, we as human beings, as a species have slowly in parts and places moved from a tribal and group based identity that excluded, punished and was demarcated by taboo, towards a state of awareness that comes out of the fallout from the European religious wars and the Enlightenment.
Today, the Enlightment is under attack and accused of being the root of 20th Century fascism and 19th Century racist ideologies, ignoring the fact that the values at the centre of the fascist and communist movements were anti-modernanti-intellectual and anti-individual (as opposed to the group). These were movements against the Enlightment and modernity – and today, so is Islamism.
Islamism and it’s left-wing fellow travellers in the west seeks to impose a new order of racism, genocide and tyranny on the world. There is no place in Islamist philosophy for free-thought, free-speech, or the mere existence of difference beyond that mandated in a collection of thoughts and sayings from the 7th and 8th Centuries AD. Why do the left-wing affect to believe more in the virtue of this fascist creed than in their own culture?
Because they have abandoned reason and logic as their own beliefs have attained the trappings of religion, since reason and logic (those gifts of radical Christianity, but above all the Greeks) can be used to question and dismantle those beliefs. By finding nothing but fault in the west for the last half-century, by despising the working classes of the west for not being good revolutionaries or humble new-age serfs, the left-wing intelligensia (and here I use the word in a derogotary sense) have been left with nothing of value inside themselves, excepting their own sense of absolute virtue. They recognise the wickedness of the Islamists, but fool themselves into believing that the wickedness is a product of western mistakes, rather than a poison nutured outside of themselves. Far easier to blame the west for being attacked than to defend it.
So we now have winter solstice festivals, instead of Christmas. We now no longer teach our history, except for those bits where our ancestors can be painted as devils attacking angels out of spite or greed. We blame assaults on us as the result of our political opponants or yesteryear, or increasingly the result of wicked and greed machinations by secret elites, which leads rapidly into conspiracy theories and the revival of anti-Jewish rhetoric.
We have an intellectual culture that is so anti-militarist, that it would deprive us of the means to defend ourselves or prevent harm against others in the world, while the BBC tells us to weep crocodile tears as one tyrant or movement massacres the helpless in the name of fascist ideologies – or sometimes out of greed.
We have become complacent, self-loathing and corpulent. Our intellectual culture has been labelled as worthless by its’ own practitioners and instead of treating the ideas of our enemies as anything like better, we opt for a standard of “difference” that implicitly makes them better while seeming “equal”.
As Lord Lawson put it in another context, I leave the last words with Euripides (or rather his 19th Century admirers). “Those whom the gods wished to destroy, they first made mad.”

How dare he be so mendacious?

July 8, 2008

Obama claims “I’ve always said that the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain security. That assessment hasn’t changed.

Yet his website, the closest thing Americans have to a manifesto still says, “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.
So let’s dissect this policy position: The primary statement here is the withdrawal of combat brigades, note the word immediately: not after careful consideration. Not after consulting on the ground. No, immediately, straight after he is sworn in.
Now, Obama is basing his current statement (top of article) on the last sentence in his website statement of intent. The problem is that al Qaeda were already there and wreaking havoc the year before this statement was published. Now, I cannot believe that he would be so willfully blind, and, or stupid to think that al Qaeda were not sufficiently established in Iraq in 2004-7 to build a base, because that is exactly what the al Qaeda-in-Iraq said about themselves and the deadliest attacks on both civilians, Iraqi Security Forces and the Multinational Coalition Forces were being conducted by al Qaeda.
What we have here is a clear case of mendacious statement. This is not about a sensible policy position dictated by safety and security etc. This is a position based on a sentimental appeal to the anti-war left to back him in the primary. How does he reconcile the arguement for withdrawing with the need to fight al Qaeda?

Simple. The sentence in the website about fighting al Qaeda is just a fig-leaf for the monstrous cowardice and contempt for both the Iraqis and the idea of democracy and freedom outside the United States.
So under a President Obama, the United States will not stay in the country it helped free from a genocidal fascist dictator (the part left unsaid in this whole debate) but will leave as if they were the Wehrmacht leaving a blackened and burnt Russia in 1944. They will leave with shame and knowing the cowardice at the top and it eminating from their commander-in-chief.
So to sum up, now he says, “I’ve also said I would be deliberate and careful about how we get out.” No, you lying bastard, you said that you’d leave immediately. We have that in black and white. There is no way that you can reconcile or refine the two positions.

With great thanks to JOS at for prompting me to write this.

The height of egocentric stupidity

June 22, 2008

In the Times, this Sunday, Simon Jenkins has displayed his cogent grasp of the realities of the war between the West and the Islamists in his article calling on the West to cease fighting the Taliban. To grant him more intelligence than customarily given, let us ask what his reasoning for this cowardice must be…
The answer is disturbingly close-minded: We need the Taliban to help suppress Al-Qaeda…
Seriously, how stupid and typical of an egocentric analysis of the situation? Jenkins refuses to acknowledge that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, while not the same thing are part of the same movement, which is Islamism. In their speeches, legal documents and policy statements, the Islamists have proclaimed their aim and desire to take over the world. Yes, that is the truth of the matter. A global caliphate.
Simon Jenkins obviously has decided that it is too far fetched to imagine that the Taliban might have wider aims than being yet another “resistance” movement. No, the Taliban must be purely a local political group, in defiance of all evidence to the contrary. Convenient eh? This would mean, if true, that the real warmongers are the Bush administration and their Western lackeys. I’m just waiting until he mentions neo-cons or zionists…
But let us put aside the hubristic idea that they are just a local resistance group and look at the human rights implications of this attitude. Simon Jenkins is seriously proposing handing over the women, children and ethnic and religious minorities of Afghanistan to the rule of Islamists or Islamic fundamentalists. Let’s see how that’s working out in Iran? We could ask the women’s rights movements or the Baluchis. I guess all this displays is Simon Jenkin’s innate racism: only white people deserve human rights. Fuck everyone else.
To which I would reply: how did that work in 1939?