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The Big Lie

POSTED:

60 Minutes has blown the lid on the administration's WMD bamboozlement. There can no longer be any doubt: The march to war was a deliberate sham.

The CBS report connects the dots: We knew that the CIA had flipped a member of Saddam's inner circle, and that he told the agency that the Iraqi dictator had no active WMD programs. What we didn't know was that, in the fall of 2002 — at least 4 months before the invasion —Bush, Cheney, Condi & Co. were personally briefed. They were told that their casus belli didn't hold water, but they willfully chose to disregard this highest-level intelligence. In the end, regime change was the policy. The WMD argument was just so much window dressing.

The fact that the White House had in fact been briefed about the CIA's top turncoat was not a given. Far too much solid intel —including the testimonials of 30 expat Iraqi moles who were sent to infiltrate their former homeland and report back on their discoveries (their reporting was unanimous: No WMD) —stayed bottled up inside the agency.

Not so in this case, Tyler Drumheller, the CIA's top man in Europe at the time, told 60 Minutes. From the transcript:

The CIA had made a major intelligence breakthrough on Iraq's nuclear program. Naji Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq's military secrets to the CIA. Drumheller was in charge of the operation.

"This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about," Drumheller says.

"You knew you could trust this guy?" Bradley asked.

"We continued to validate him the whole way through," Drumheller replied.

According to Drumheller, CIA Director George Tenet delivered the news about the Iraqi foreign minister at a high-level meeting at the White House, including the president, the vice president and Secretary of State Rice.

At that meeting, Drumheller says, "They were enthusiastic because they said, they were excited that we had a high-level penetration of Iraqis."

What did this high-level source tell him?

"He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program," says Drumheller.

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" Bradley asked.

"Yes," Drumheller replied. He says there was doubt in his mind at all.

"It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

Drumheller expected the White House to ask for more information from the Iraqi foreign minister.

But he says he was taken aback by what happened. "The group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they're no longer interested," Drumheller recalls. "And we said,'Well, what about the intel?' And they said,'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'"

(Watch the video here.)

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