By Brad Friedman

Powell’s Chief Of Staff: Iraq Intel Was ‘Outright Lies’, But Powell Didn’t ‘Knowingly Lie’ At UN

February 22, 2013 5:42 pm Category: Memo Pad 31 Comments A+ / A-

Originally posted at The Brad Blog

[Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.]

In a response to a charge cited by The BRAD BLOG on Tuesday that then-Sec. of State Colin Powell “knowingly lied” during his infamous February 5, 2003 presentation of false intelligence to the UN Security Council about the need to attack Iraq, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s Chief of Staff at the time, characterizes the allegation as unfair.

He says points made in support of that claim are “misleading and even spurious” and “not supported in the surrounding narrative.”

“I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated,” says Wilkerson in his reply today, sent in response to our request for comment. “But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and — I am increasingly convinced, outright lies — to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell.”

David Swanson, who authored the charges in question, as cited earlier this week by The BRAD BLOG, disputes Wilkerson’s response. The full remarks by both men are posted in full at the end of this article.

On Tuesday, we ran Swanson’s critique of Hubris: Selling the Iraq War, a new NBC News documentary based on the book of a similar name by journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff. (You can watch the entire film online here.)

While Swanson lauded the project for helping to “prolong Americans’ awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq,” he offered a number of worthy criticisms as well, including the fact that MSNBC, which aired the documentary, failed to acknowledge its own participation in propagating many of those same lies to the American people.

Featured in the film are several new pieces of information and commentary that have come to light since the original publication of Corn and Isikoff’s 2007 book.

Some of those revelations come by way of Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and, more to the point, Powell’s Chief of Staff at the time of his February 5, 2003 presentation to the UN Security Council on the supposed chemical, biological and nuclear threats posed by Saddam Hussein. That presentation by perhaps the most well-regarded official in the Bush Administration at the time is widely credited with turning the tide of public opinion in favor of the invasion of Iraq, which would commence just weeks later, 10 years ago next month.

Unfortunately, virtually every piece of evidence presented by Powell at the UN. said to have been culled from various intelligence agencies, turned out to be completely false. Some years later, Powell would describe the speech as a “painful” “blot” on his career. As Hubris details, Powell’s evidence was not only wrong, but known to be wrong by many in the intelligence community by the time it was presented to the public as fact by the well-respected Secretary of State.

“Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied,” says Wilkerson in the film, “we did participate in a hoax.”

Swanson’s critique, however, takes that point further, charging that “The Hubris version of Colin Powell’s lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold.”

“Powell was not a victim. He ‘knowingly lied,’” wrote Swanson, including a link to his own 2011 op-ed at Consortium News headlined “Colin Powell’s Disgraceful Lies.”

Given the serious nature of the charges cited by Swanson as detailed in his 2011 piece — all well-documented with direct quotes from the State Department’s own January 31, 2003 Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) assessment repeatedly describing most of the claims Powell would offer the following week at the UN as “weak” at best, and “implausible” in many cases — it seemed appropriate to give Wilkerson the opportunity to respond to the direct allegation that Powell was outright lying during his UN presentation.

In his response, Wilkerson draws a line in the sand, if you will, against the contention that his former boss “knowingly lied.”

He says he believes that Swanson’s “use of INR’s assessment of ‘weak’ repeatedly, is weak itself.”

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Powell’s Chief Of Staff: Iraq Intel Was ‘Outright Lies’, But Powell Didn’t ‘Knowingly Lie’ At UN Reviewed by on . Originally posted at The Brad Blog [Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.] In a response to a charge cited by Originally posted at The Brad Blog [Now UPDATED with a response from 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern at bottom of article.] In a response to a charge cited by Rating:

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Comments

  • Sand_Cat

    You wanna buy a bridge?

    • nobsartist

      Dont forget, the invasion was to “stabilize oil prices”. Gas went from 1.00 per gallon to 4 and Obama still hasnt done anything about it.

      Any idea who sold the nukes to Israel?

      Want to bet the awol coke head’s family and cheney were involved?

      No concerns that a b.j. demands massive investigations but lying us into 2 wars and bankrupting the country only deserves new gun laws?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

        Are there really five posters on this site that believe the BS nobsartist wrote in these comments? The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with ‘stabalizing oil prices’. Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq for two reasons – 1) to get Sadaam for trying to kill Bush’s Dad near the end of the 1st Gulf War; and to set things up so defense contractors like Haliburton, Blackwater and others could defraud the government of billions of dollars by overcharging for everything they did to support the war. Why do you suppose so many defense industry rellated companies were given no-bid contracts by the Bush Administration? It was all a set up – just like the war itself. And to even suggest that the president, whether it’s Obama or anyone else has any impact on gas prices is moronic – and to think there are 5 people here who liked nosartist’s absurd comments!! I’m astounded that there are that many folks posting here that don’t know better than that: gas prices are set based on international demand and commodity trading – the president. whomever, he or she is has virtually no control over gas prices. Sure if the president authorizes a big release of oil from our reserves there may be a temporary affect on price, but that’s it, very temporary. And given that America is currently awash with crude because sometime this year America could easily dethrone Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil exporter on the planet, current prices have nothing to do with supply – the reason gas prices are going up is due to the oil companies and commodity traders driving up the prices. (One way oil companies do that is by throwing a number of refineries off line at the same time for repairs to reduce the availability of current stores of gas).

  • Sand_Cat

    Powell served as an enabler, helping to get enough people to vote for Bush to enable him to steal the election, when he had to know that Bush was lazy, dishonest, and hypocritical. Now he wants to weasel out of his responsibility (no insult to weasels intended). He had promised adult supervision; where was that? It was downright obvious that Bush and Cheney were spoiling for a war with Iraq, regardless of the facts, and it was known at the time already that they sent intelligence reports back to be re-written if they contained facts that did not support the desired policies. But poor old innocent well-meaning Powell didn’t have a clue that what he was presenting was at the very best highly biased.

    Sure.

  • charleo1

    My opinion on Colin Powell is, I think he’s an extraordinary person. That embodies the essence
    of the American Patriot’s dedication, and service, to his Country. In a time of prolific talk about
    putting the interests of one’s Country before the partisanship of politics. Colin Powell, from his
    earliest days of combat in the jungles of Vietnam, his unwavering leadership has served his
    military, as a soldier, and three American Presidents, that valued his judgement, and his sound
    advise in matters of the highest consequence. It was this trust, built over a lifetime that the
    Bush Administration used as their premise for going to war. If Bush, as President were to have
    done but this one thing, to trade on, and sully the reputation of this true servant to his Country.
    It should forever go down in the history books, as an act of treason.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      Powell, up to the point he made that speech in the UN claiming Iraq had WOMD, he had total credibility and was honorable. And, I respected him up to that point.

      After the speech, he had none. He became just as Treasonous as both Bushes, Cheney and everyone else all the way down the line.

      • charleo1

        I cannot say you’re wrong, because I don’t know the meetings Powell was an
        attendant to. Colonel Wilkerson seems to be a honorable man as well. And, a
        very outspoken critic of the Bush Administration. He describes Powell as having
        doubts. As meeting with CIA head [Brinnen] I would need to check that name.
        But he is setting directly behind Powell at the UN. At Powell’s insistence, so says
        Wilkerson. And Powell was told, according to both Powell, and Wilkerson, that
        the evidence that Hussein had WMDs, (biological,) was, “A slam dunk.”
        So, I tend to agree with my friend Dominick Vila here. Powell, foremost, a man of the military, may have pushed his own doubts aside, and followed his President,
        his Commander in Chief. I do believe he continues to regret doing so.

        • CPAinNewYork

          ” …poor judgment, eh? I don’t buy it. I think that Bush was cognizant of what was happening, but went along with it because it lined his and his buddies’ pockets.

          • charleo1

            Well, I have not seen any evidence Colin Powell profited in any way from the war in Iraq.
            And I don’t believe any of his past behavior would suggest such an accusation. Now,
            if you know of something pointing to this, I would be interested in seeing it.

          • CPAinNewYork

            You completely misunderstand my comment. I took issue with the suggestion that Bush wasn’t part of the conspiracy to invade Iraq, i.e. that he was perhaps a misinformed innocent. I believe that he was well aware of the conspiracy and conspired with his buddies to carry it out because it lined their pockets.

            Colin Powell was certainly not one of Bush’s buddies. He was one of those duped, not one of the Bush conspirators. Powell didn’t profit from the war. He either let his sense of military loyalty cloud his better judgment or he became mentally lazy and “went with the flow.” Either way, he was screwed. My point is that ethical people like Colin Powell shouldn’t get involved with sleazebags like Dubya Bush and his buddies. Hence my comment that “If you lie with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.”

            Clear?

          • charleo1

            Yes, very clear. And, I’m also fairly sure Bush was, “handled,” by Cheney, and Rumsfield.
            Which, these two go way back to the Nixon Administration. Powell it seems was an idea
            to replicate the Reagan era, of having an Alexander Haig, a former military guy to head up
            The State Department, to project a more muscular foreign policy. And, that was how Cheney saw Powell’s job. A problem quickly developed between Powell, and Cheney,
            when Powell made it clear he was not the type to help Cheney, and Rumsfield, give the President of the United States a skewed impression of Hussein’s efforts to develop WMDs.
            By cherry picking, and manipulating the information coming from various sources.
            Some known to be highly unreliable. The documents on the yellowcake from Niger, for example, were determined to be forgeries by the Italians. And, not very good ones at that.
            Yet, there it was, in the State of the Union, speech. Along with the aluminum tubes, our weapons inspectors had determined were not of the sort used to enrich uranium.
            Did Powell feel it was his responsibility to at anytime step forward? Apparently not.
            Did George W, Bush the man, know anything about the final determination of the tubes?
            Was George the President, caught up in the whole thing? Absolutely. And Cheney was
            always the last person left in the room, after the A.M. staff meeting, to make sure George
            stayed that way. As a side note. I heard Grover Norquist, the anti-tax lobbyist, assert the
            other day, the Country didn’t need a President with any special abilities beyond the digits
            required to hold a pen, and sign legislation handed to him by a Republican Congress into law. I don’t ever agree with Grover. But, I have never heard anyone of any stature, at any
            time, be more wrong, about the importance of electing a capable President. Nor, any
            President that exemplified that importance, more than George W. Bush.

  • nobsartist

    I wonder how long it will take “Obama” to decide that looking “forward” not “backward” would implicate him in this sordid affair.

    As it stands, the government is guilty of allowing this deception and is a party in this crime because “Obama” decided not to investigate.

    After 5 years, it looks to me like Obama is as guilty as Powell. Stupidity is no excuse.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/5UJAV2WHSCEZAS53GMI6HQYADU Valerie A

      You sir are absolutely correct. I believe the legal term is “accessory after the fact”. I have supported Obama and voted for him in elections, but I can not support him in his failure to investigate this international war criminal.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

        Is it possible that the president hasn’t formally done anything about pursuing what were previously unprovable allegations because the White House knew that the background stories being related today would surface without him appointing a committee that would probably cost the country millions of dollars and take the country away from what is the really the most important goal at the moment: bringing the country back from the big depression?

        Given the political partisanship that we’ve been experiencing over the past 4 years, can you even begin to imagine how much worse things would be if the Dems had perported to charge the previous GOP administration with treason??

    • whodatbob

      Why are you blaming Obama. He did the right thing in not investigating. There is a time to stop wasting assets opening old wounds. Same a Ford did by granting a pardon to Nixon. We knew Powell was lying when he gave the speech.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    Powell didn’t know all this false information wasn’t valid?

    I mean, with all the CIA Operatives over there, they must have known invasion wasn’t necessary.

    All this boils down to is that Powell supported the bushies for as long as he could. Now, he’s backtracking and trying to cover his own ass by claiming he didn’t know. Bullshit!

    And, you bet cha, if Obama doesn’t thoroughly investigate this crap, at least propose it, he isn’t doing his job either.

    This has all been a huge coverup way before we invaded Iraq.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B6RROC4IUESHT322QS5VJVPYRM Lynda

    I’m sure that Wilkerson really believes that his boss did not lie. I wish I could be so sure. It is hard to believe that the Secretary could be so out of the loop as to not know the twaddle he was being fed. Indeed he did go before the UN and sound off a laundry list of nonsense and he made it sound reasonable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

    Cheney lied to Colin Powell the same way he lied to everyone else. Not surprisingly for a disciplined and loyal soldier, when he found out he had been used, he resigned. He did not make his conclusion and findings public because of respect for the Office of the Presidency, rather than out of respect towards the scum that fooled and entire nation.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

      Given that the vast majority of America viewed Colin Powell as a true patriot, in my mind, knowing what he must have known about the lies that were being perpetrated on the American people, Powell should have shown his true partirotism by blowing the whistle on Bush and Cheney’s treasonous actions and not sent our troops into an unnecessary war where thousands of them would die.

      • RobertCHastings

        I agree. Powell has been vilified for supporting Obama in both 2008 and 2012 against the Republican challengers. And, by Republicans, has been called everything in the book. Looks like he may be trying to get back his pound of flesh, one way or another. I just wish he would spill the beans while Cheney is still alive, and drag down the entire Bush administration, from Ari Fleisher to GW.

    • CPAinNewYork

      I like Colin Powell, but in one sense, he brought what happened to him on himself, because he should have never signed on with a bunch of scumbags like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the neocons.

      Did he think that that bunch of bastards would do anything other than lie and cheat for their personal gain and political agendas?

      There’s an old saying: If you lie with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HJIWONQOW4EAYMCA4QH2DDJMBU MARK

    Didn’t Powell have some responsibility to verify his info? Even if his trust was betrayed,and it is clear that it was,he should have discerned the truth for himself.At the very least Powell suffered a moment of extremely poor judgement and I’m pretty sure he knows and regrets it.I would rather untangle a birds nest of fishline than to sort through this muddy quagmire but one primary and glaring truth remains.The world was sold a pig in a poke by the Bush administration. The reasons offered for war were a lie.The war was a criminal enterprise.The perpetrators have commited crimes against humanity.The Obama administration,which I support, needs to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue the criminals who are still at large.Leonard Cohen states in a song that “Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.”.I hope it is accompanied by Justice and that the guilty get a terminal dose of it.

  • latebloomingrandma

    I really appreciated the above remarks by Ray McGovern, who is a position to know a lot of “stuff.” From all that I’ve read, Colin Powell was marginalized and kept out of the loop of the inner circle of Bush world, presumably because he was a moderate and not a crazy war monger. Very strange for a Sec. of State position. Completely opposite of Condi, who was far too enamored of Bush to give any alternate viewpoints. . Cheney was really in control in Bush’s first term. He and his consigliere, David Addington, tightly controlled who had access to Bush in person and even through memos. And Bush was a gut thinker, not a curious person. He made up his mind and was only interested in getting the info to support what he wanted. The only reason Powell was put out there was that he was the most respected person in the administration in the public eye. People would believe him. I think he smelled a rat and carefully spent a week combing through all the “intelligence” that was provided to him, to make a plausable case before the world, as he still served this President. I think to the end he remained skeptical, but I do not believe he deliberatly “lied.” Once his “usefullness” was done, he was asked to resign. I believe he would have anyway, as he was not a good fit for this extremist administration, but he was put out to pasture to make way for Condi. She never left Bush’s side unless she was overseas. She was the other half of Bush’s brain, the first half belong to Karl. It was interesting to read how Cheney’s star and influence diminished somewhat during the second term. That was one dangerous VP.

  • adriancrutch

    The festering sore of this section of time is that POOR judgement was used to perpetrate these acts. And if these people want some kind of mercy,then come clean! This just sounds like an alcoholic who can’t admit that he is what he is. Powell should and could have prevented this whole sorid episode of history. And he would have been the better for it! But! He chose to JOIN the CONSPIRACY and it will FOREVER ruin his public persona. But! That’s POOR JUDGEMENT for you! He might have thought the Republicans were going to rule the world. Again, that’s poor judgement. And I still need to see the entire Charlie Rose interview with Cheney, but I doubt that there’s anything to glean from that. Cheney is a psychopathic manipulator who is nothing short of a monster.

    • middleclasstaxpayer

      Well I guess if Mr Powell used poor judgement, as you state, then so did liberal “hero” BILL CLINTON, who voiced strong APPROVAL at the time. Your own current “hero” used much worse judgement on Benghazi matter. The White House Situation room has minute-by-minute audio & video feed from hotspots around the globe thru drone cameras, yet your “hero” watched for over a 7 hour period as 4 Americans were slaughtered, and he did NOTHING TO HELP. Why?…beacuse he knew if he failed he might lose the election…result: obama decided HE was more important than the 4 brave Americans who were fighting for their lives while pleading for backup & support which NEVER WAS PROVIDED by our “commander in chief???”

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

        The GOP must love you – just another delusional sucker. You must be really clueless if you think the president’s schedule is such that he could sit around for 7 hours straight watching a firefight in a consulate that’s 5,000 miles away. Maybe you’d be interested in this bridge I have in Brooklyn that’ for sale.

        But having said that, and since you apparently believe these kinds of lies and distortions, what do you think Bush and Chaney were doing in 2002 when terrorists attacked our consulate in Karachi Pakistan and killed 12 people, including several Americans?? Were they sitting around watching that too?

        Or how about in 2003 when terrorists attacked our office in the International Compound in Saudi Arabia and 17 were killed?

        Or how about in 2003 when the consulate in Karachi was attacked again and 2 were killed?

        or how about in 2004 when the consulate in Saudi Arabia was attacked AGAIN and 8 were killed? What were Bush and Cheney doing during that attack?

        or how about in 2006 when the consulate in Karach was attacked for the 3rd time and 4 were killed including a US diplomat? Were Bush and Cheney hiding somewhere about this time?

        I could go on for 7 more attacks that took place during Bush and Cheney’s disasterous 8 years in office; but I think you’re getting the point. What you’re trying to say is total nonsense. The past 4 years under Obama have been BY FAR the safest 4 years for America’s overseas personnel in almost 40 years – and you sir are being just as big a hypocrite as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. And I haven’t even asked about the worst of the worst.

        What do you suppose Bush was doing for 6 weeks before the 9/11 attack after he had been warned 7 times by the CIA that al Qaeda was planning an imminent attack on the homeland??? The CIA had pleaded with Bush and Cheney to provide them with the funding they need to prevent an attack they knew was coming. Guess what Bush and Cheney did – NOTHING!! Instead of being concerned about an attack that was imminently coming, Bush took the entire month of August off including through Labor Day ; 5 weeks of straight vacation that tied Nixon for being the longest running vacation ever taken by a president. He decided to return less than ONE WEEK before the attack the CIA had warned him about happened and 3,000 Americans died – NOT THAT’S A TREAVESTY!!!

        What you need to do mister is grow up and stop believing the lies you hear from Rush Limbag and Faux News.

      • awakenaustin

        You are a troll asnd a consumate dunder head.

  • sleeprn01

    I agree w/ Mr. Kollmorgan that President Obama should convene an investigative panel to examine the greed, corruption, murder, and treason that surrounds this HOAX. Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, and Rove definitely need to be held accountable for their lies and the murder of about 5,000 young Americans. It is bad enough that Cheney got away with outing an active CIA agent (I can’t remember isn’t an answer) he should not be allowed to get away with war crimes. Senators Graham and McCaine are so concerned about 4 dead Americans in Libia why aren’t they asking the same questions about 5,000 dead Americans in Iraq who died in the name of a HOAX.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC4BGWVYXV76PHZBPSPOOU5GA Independent1

      As much as I agree with the fact that Bush and Cheney need to be prosecuted, I’m not sure that with the state of the country the past 4 years that it’s been the right time to do that. So I’m going to repeat here some comments I made to Valerie A below when she also questioned the fact Obama hasn’t gone out of his way to start prosecution of Bush and Cheney’s treasonous actions:

      Is it possible that the president hasn’t formally done anything about pursuing what were previously unprovable allegations because the White House knew that the background stories being related today would surface without him appointing a committee that would probably cost the country millions of dollars and take the country away from what is the really the most important goal at the moment: bringing the country back from the worst recession since the big depression?

      Given the political partisanship that we’ve been experiencing over the past 4 years, can you even begin to imagine how much worse things would be if the Dems had perported to charge the previous GOP administration with treason??

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        No new Administration in the history of this country has brought charges of Treason or gross negligence, etc. against a former administration that I know of.

        This would make all administrations held responsible for their past acts. They’d rather bury it in classified secret documents so maybe a few hundred years later, people can finally dig up all the dirt they caused. Too late, they’re all dead and the publics’ memory about it has faded away by that time.

        Hell, we’re still digging up dirt about the Spanish American War. We caused that you know.

        The only time I can think of that a president was held accountable for his actions in office was Nixon and then Clinton. And, this was when they were in office, not afterwards.

      • bearfoot33

        living with lying and subterfuge cannot be ignored… that path is total destruction as a nation of free people !

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