Monday, April 24, 2006

Didn’t Want to Hear It

Josh Marshall follows up last night’s 60 Minutes story with his own interview with Tyler Drumheller, the now-retired CIA officer who was head of covert operations in Europe during the lead up to the Iraq War.

First, Drumheller says that most folks in the intelligence community didn’t think there was anything to the Niger-uranium story. We knew that in general terms; but we hadn’t heard it yet from someone so closely involved in the case itself. Remember, the CIA Station Chief in Rome, the guy who first saw the documents when they were dropped off at the US Embassy in October 2002, worked for Drumheller.

Second, Drumheller told us a lot more about the case of Naji Sabri, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, who the CIA managed to turn not long before the war broke out. Drumheller was in charge of that operation. The White House, as Drumheller relates it, was really excited to hear what Sabri would reveal about the inner-workings of Saddam’s regime, and particularly about any WMD programs. That is, before Sabri admitted that Saddam didn’t have any active programs. Then they lost interest.

[…]

But here’s an angle I’m not sure we’re going to hear much about.

Drumheller’s account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence.

[…]

What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.

In other words, “Don’t bother me with the facts; I’ve made up my mind.”