Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (Curveball) has officially told the Guardian that he ‘fabricated’ his claims that Iraq had biological weapons. His own motivation was surely honourable, and his actions brave. Not so those who chose to believe him.
After escaping Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1995, Janabi explains that he decided to give information about Saddam to foreign governments because he realised that he “had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime.” He also says that he is “proud” of himself for taking that chance. He told the Guardian: “I tell you something when I hear anybody – not just in Iraq but in any war – [is] killed, I am very sad. But give me another solution. Can you give me another solution?
“Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq. There were no other possibilities.”
It’s extremely difficult to pass judgement on someone who has fled persecution; someone who knows the horrors a dictatorship like Saddam Hussein’s can bring. That someone who actually lived under the regime would go to such lengths as lying to the German secret service, with the deliberate hope of prompting military action against their home country, shouldn’t be entirely forgotten next time we think about whether there was a moral case for war, with or without WMD. (Although neither should it be forgotten that Tony Blair doesn’t get to claim any prizes for making that moral case, seeing as how he said Saddam could stay in power if he got rid of his WMD.)
No, Janabi’s decision to lie about Saddam’s weapons capability was an understandable, human reaction to living under a dictatorship. Much more alarming is the way those lies were used – and to what end.
According to the Guardian, Colin Powell’s speech eight years ago “relied heavily” on Janabi’s lies. Colin Powell, being a very clever man indeed, would surely (even had there been no particular cause for suspicion) have thought to question whether a source as obviously biased as Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi might be lying when he gave information about a dictator he’d previously lived under. That’s before considering that in this case, there actually was cause for suspicion: previous claims made by Janabi, such as his claims that the son of Dr Bassil Latif, the former boss of the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, was helping Saddam obtain certain weapons in violation of sanctions, are said to have been proved false as early as 2000.
Once upon a time – and it seems very long ago indeed now – I have to admit that I actually had some degree of faith in the moral case for the war in Iraq. It doesn’t look, now, as if the American government ever had that faith. If the moral case for war needed weapons of mass destruction to be convincing; if it needed to use evidence from a clearly biased source allegedly proven already to be untrustworthy; if our recent memories need to be so obviously fiddled with every time a new revelation comes out, how can anyone – even the most passionate anti-Saddam campaigners around the world – have faith in the reasoning of Blair and Bush, or indeed, in the legality behind that reasoning, which led up to the war?
Here is the Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/15/defector-admits-wmd-lies-iraq-war