Thursday, July 15, 2004

Senate Report Indicates Powell Knew He Was Lying

Secretary Colin L. Powell, UN Security Council, February 5, 2003 


My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples...

The LA Times  delves into the SSCI report and finds that the State Department's very own analysts tried to delete a number of lies from Powell's speech:

The analysts, describing many of the claims as "weak" and assigning grades to arguments on a 5-star scale, warned Powell against making an array of allegations they deemed implausible. They also warned against including Iraqi communications intercepts they deemed ambiguous and against speculating that terrorists might "come through Baghdad and pick-up biological weapons" as if they were stocked on store shelves. 


On the Mobile Weapons Labs:
In one section that remained in the speech, Powell showed aerial images of a supposed decontamination vehicle circling a suspected chemical weapons site.

"We caution," State Department analysts wrote, "that Iraq has given … what may be a plausible account for this activity — that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives."

The presence of a water truck "is common in such an event," they concluded.
On Aluminum Tubes:

State Department analysts also made it clear that they disagreed with CIA and other analysts on the allegation that aluminum tubes imported by Iraq were for use in a nuclear weapons program. "We will work with our [intelligence community] colleagues to fix some of the more egregious errors in the tubes discussion," the memo said.

In the speech, Powell acknowledged disagreement among analysts on the tubes, but included the claim. The Senate report concluded last week that the tubes were for conventional rockets.


In one case, Powell was to say that the aluminum tubes were so unsuitable for use in conventional rockets that if he were to roll one on a table, "the mere pressure of my hand would deform it."
Department of engineers said that statement was incorrect. 

On Nuclear Weapons:
In a section on nuclear weapons, the analysts argued against using a communications intercept they described as "taken out of context" and "highly misleading." There is no more information on what was in the intercept, but Powell in his speech referred to intercepted communications that he said showed that "Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors."