Throwing 'Curveball': CBS Reveals Real Name of False Iraqi Source
by Editor & Publisher staff
November 01, 2007
NEW YORK After what it calls a two-year probe, the CBS News show "60 Minutes" today identified the man whose fabricated story -- swallowed by many in the media -- of Saddam Hussein possessing biological weapons helped push the U.S. into an invasion. It has also obtained video of "Curve Ball," as he was known in intelligence circles, "and discovered he was not only a liar, but also a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be," CBS News reports.
Correspondent Bob Simon's investigation will be broadcast this Sunday.
An excerpt from the story at the CBSnews.com site follows.
Curve Ball is an Iraqi defector named Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who arrived at a German refugee center in 1999. To bolster his asylum case and increase his importance, he told officials he was a star chemical engineer who had been in charge of a facility at Djerf al Nadaf that was making mobile biological weapons.
"60 Minutes" has learned that Alwan’s university records indicate he did study chemical engineering but earned nearly all low marks, mostly 50s. Simon’s investigation also uncovered an arrest warrant for theft from the Babel television production company in Baghdad where he once worked.
Also appearing in Sunday's segment is video that "60 Minutes" obtained of Alwan at a Baghdad wedding in 1993 - the first time images of him have ever been made public.
He eventually wound up in the care of German intelligence officials to whom he continued to spin his tale of biological weapons. His plan succeeded partially because he had worked briefly at the plant outside Baghdad and his descriptions of it were mostly accurate. He embellished his account by saying 12 workers had been killed by biological agents in an accident at the plant.
More than a hundred summaries of his debriefings were sent to the CIA, which then became a pillar - along with the now-disproved Iraqi quest for uranium for nuclear weapons - for the U.S. decision to bomb and then invade Iraq. The CIA-director George Tenet gave Alwan’s information to Secretary of State Colin Powell to use at the U.N. in his speech justifying military action against Iraq.
Tenet gave the information to Powell despite a letter - a copy of which "60 Minutes" obtained - addressed to him by the head of German intelligence stating that Alwan appeared to be believable, but there was no evidence to verify his story.