-- The Bush administration helped rally public
and congressional support for an Iraq invasion
by publicizing the claims of an Iraqi defector,
although a lie-detector test indicated he
was lying and U.S. intelligence agencies had
rejected him as unreliable months earlier.
defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, claimed
he had worked at illegal chemical, biological
and nuclear facilities around Baghdad. But
when members of the CIA-operated Iraq Survey
Group, charged with tracing any illegal weapons
held by ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,
took Saeed back to Iraq earlier this year,
he pointed out facilities known to be associated
with the conventional Iraqi military. He couldn't
identify a single site associated with illegal
weapons, U.S. officials said.
overall impression was that he was trying
to pass information far beyond his area of
expertise," a senior U.S. official said. He
and another U.S. official spoke on condition
of anonymity because some details of the defector's
case remain classified.
of State Colin Powell said Sunday that other
defectors fed him and the CIA misleading information
about mobile biological weapons facilities
before the war.
turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate
and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately
misleading. And for that I am disappointed,
and I regret it," Powell said Sunday on NBC's
"Meet the Press."
no evidence has surfaced that administration
officials knowingly fed dubious information
to Congress, the public or the news media,
Saeed's case suggests that officials either
were unaware that he had done poorly on the
CIA-administered polygraph exam or overlooked
that fact when they publicized his claims.
making its case for war, the administration
also publicized claims about mobile biological
weapons labs from a defector whom the Defense
Intelligence Agency had labeled a fabricator
and a charge that Hussein had tried to buy
uranium for nuclear weapons in Africa, even
though the CIA had said it couldn't verify
White House gave Saeed's claims prominent
billing in a September 2002 background paper
-- nine months after officials with the CIA
and DIA had dismissed him as unreliable. The
paper was released in conjunction with a speech
President George W. Bush delivered at the
UN General Assembly and is still available
on the White House and State Department Web
footnote in one version attributes Saeed's
claims to a Dec. 20, 2001, front-page article
in the New York Times that was based on an
interview with the defector in Bangkok, Thailand.
In the article, Saeed described himself as
a civil engineer who worked on renovating
secret biological, chemical and nuclear weapons
facilities in fake lead-lined water wells,
private villas and beneath Baghdad's main
Saeed's account gives new clues about the
types and possible locations of illegal laboratories,
facilities and storage sites that American
officials and international inspectors have
long suspected Iraq of trying to hide," the
article, cited by news media around the world,
appeared three days after CIA and DIA experts
dismissed Saeed as unreliable after the polygraph
test detected lies, the U.S. officials said.
Like two other Iraqi defectors Powell cited
Sunday, Saeed was supplied by the Iraqi National
Congress, a former exile group that lobbied
the United States to oust Hussein. The group's
leader, Ahmad Chalabi, is on the U.S.-appointed
Iraqi Governing Council.
spokesman Entifadh Qanbar and other INC officials
denied that the group knowingly provided defectors
of dubious credibility.
paper, "A Decade of Deception and Defiance,"
can be found on the White House Web site at
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