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Iraq's Biowar Labs: Mystery Solved?

mobile lab.jpgOkay, just when you thought that the whole Curveball-Iraqi biological weapons story couldn't get any weirder, it does. Milton Leitenberg of the Center for International Security Studies has provided me with the exclusive third (and last) part of the story behind the story of the alleged Iraqi mobile biological warfare labs. In Part 1, he revealed that in 2001 the U.S. government had fabricated a "mobile BW lab" for the purposes of training SOCOM operatives on how to identify and exploit an adversary's BW production facility. In Part 2, Leitenberg discusses how a U.S. contractor developed the now infamous graphics of an Iraqi mobile BW lab - not based on any existing mobile BW lab or any hard intel from Curveball, but rather based on "the processes he [Curveball] described," which were "assessed by an independent laboratory as workable engineering designs."In Part 3, Leitenberg completes the full riddle inside the enigma within a mystery. It may be that we can trace back the idea of a mobile BW laboratory to Scott Ritter during his tour of duty in Iraq in 1998 with UNSCOM. Ritter was trying to obtain information from the Iraqi National Congress, specifically on Iraq's intelligence agencies and WMD program. In 1998, he talked to Ahmed Chalabi about his suspicion that Saddam may have had mobile chemical or biological weapons labs, which would explain the UNSCOM's lack of success in finding any evidence. In late 1999-2000, Curveball - the brother of a top lieutenant to Ahmed Chalabi - starts talking to the German intelligence about mobile Iraqi BW labs, who forwards this information to the CIA. At the same time, Chalabi is talking to Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith about the danger of Iraq's "WMD program."So here we have a rumor started by a former U.S. marine supporting a UN inspection team, where he passes the idea to Chalabi, who passes it to German intel and U.S. defense officials, both of whom pass the story to the CIA. The agency develops graphics drawn by a U.S. contractor based on Curveball's story and might have known of the mock-up BW lab built for SOCOM, both of which "confirms" the concept that Iraqi mobile BW labs exist, which leads to SecState Powell's speech at the UN in February 2003 and the media's echo chamber agreeing with the president that there's enough evidence to go to war against Iraq.And as a bonus at the end of this short paper, Leitenberg reveals that Scott Ritter was pulled into a British intelligence op called "Operation Mass Appeal" run by MI6 in 1997. The purpose of "Operation Mass Appeal" was to leak weak and not "actionable" data about Iraq's WMD program to the media, who would fall upon it like hungry wolves and keep alive the public impression that Saddam had an active WMD program, despite the lack of official government endorsement. Leitenberg notes that the disinformation operation functioned similar to the DOD Office of Special Plans, but didn't involve disinformation regarding the Iraqi mobile BW production vehicles.Call George Clooney. I've got his next movie plot all ready.-- Jason Sigger, crossposted at Armchair Generalist

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