Ex CIA aide: Tenet misled Powell on evidence for mobile labs

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

George Tenet

Former CIA Director George Tenet and Deputy Director, John E. McLaughlin lied to then Secretary of State Colin Powell about the depth of evidence regarding mobile chemical weapons labs built by Iraq for germ warfare, according to a story published today in the Washington Post.

In their briefings to Powell on Feb. 4, 2003, one day before the secretary's United Nations speech, Tenet and McLaughlin told Powell the evidence on the mobile labs was exceptionally strong, based on multiple sources whose stories were independently corroborated. According ex-CIA officer Tyler Drumheller, McLaughlin knew this was not true. A few days earlier, Tyler says, McLaughlin became alarmed at discovering there was only one tangible source of information on the labs. Tenet's knowledge on lab intelligence is not well known, except that he strongly supported the veracity of reports on chemical weapons labs.

In a late-night check of the facts, the night before Powell's speech, Tenet called CIA officer Tyler Drumheller. When the subject of the mobile labs came up, Drumheller told Tenet about the unreliability of the information, but Tenet seemed distracted and tired and told him not to worry.

Tenet and McLaughlin both deny the account given by Drumheller. McLaughlin says he cannot remember anyone making the problem clear to him prior to the UN speech. Drumheller says he had spelled out the problem to McLaughlin, in an ad-hoc meeting held in McLaughlin's office with one other person present. Tenet responded to questions on this story by providing the Washington Post with a statement he had given in response to the Silberman-Robb Commission, in which he said he didn't learn of the problems with Curveball until much later. He did not recall talking to Drumheller about Curveball, and said it was "simply wrong" for anyone to imply that he knew about the problems with Curveball's credibility.

From the statements made, one can conclude that either Drumheller is lying or Tenet and McLaughlin told Powell they had more evidence on the chemical weapons labs than they actually did have.

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