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Our Three Stooges from the Middle East

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Chant it like a mantra from hell. Three stooges lied us into war: A man named Curveball, whom  we bribed. A man named Chalibi, who conned us. A man named al-Libi, whom we tortured into telling lies. 
Even as the Bush Administration was funding and executing a new secret war against Iran -- a war that threatens to break into the open -- the Pentagon released the "confessions" of a man it claims sparked our entire war on terror by planning and overseeing 31 heinous crimes or wannabe crimes. These included the World Trade Center tragedy.
But if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed trained his 9/11 hijackers in Afghanistan, was funded by rich Arabs in Kuwait and was busted in Pakistan, as the New York Times and others report, then what in God’s name are we doing half a decade after 9/11 dodging carbombs in Iraq?  
It's mostly because we bought a pack of lies from three stooges invoked above, including not just "16 little words" in George Bush's 2003 State of the Union address and Colin Powell's subsequent speech before the United Nations just before we bombed, invaded and scrambled Iraq. But rather, both speeches contained a passel of lies. 
Any good googler or Internet cruiser not blinded by dogma has known the truth of this for years. Only now is the knowledge coming out in portions of the mainstream media, however. I had to laugh on March 13 when ABC News reported--as if breaking a major investigation--how a shadowy figure codenamed Curveball convinced our government that Saddam possessed mobile labs for making anthrax. Many of us had commented on such lies for years, not only about Curveball, but also about other Iraqi stooges that lured us into this quagmire in Iraq. 
That's why the following should be chanted like a mantra. Three stooges lied us into war:  A man named Curveball, whom we bribed. A man named Chalibi, who conned us. And a man named al-Libi, whom we tortured into telling lies. 
Let's look at them briefly. According to a Newsweek article of March 16, available at, Curveball was the name given to a spy who claimed to have insider knowledge of WMD programs—including those mobile labs. German authorities asked the CIA for background information on him. Instead, his allegations wound up as a central exhibit in Colin Powell's pre-war speech to the United Nations.
According to Newsweek and many others, Ahmad Chalibi--a darling of American Neoconservatives prior to the war--provided contact information to the CIA and others for Curveball. Chalibi might represent America's single greatest intelligence embarrassment. He fed those who fed Judith Miller of the New York Times and others all sorts of fatuous stories in the run-up to war. How we would be greeted as liberators, where we'd find WMDs and many more.
According to a Washington Post article of May 20, 2004, American taxpayers unknowingly provided Chalibi's exiled organization $340,000 per month in the expectation that he would be a leader in post-war Iraq. But charges of embezzlement, lying, false intelligence, double-dealing with Iran and more dogged Chalibi. His popularity in Iraq tanked, and his electoral support was so embarrassing that America quit funding his operations in 2004. Lies told by Ibn Shaykh al-Libi also played a key role in justifying Bush's decision to bomb and invade.
As my Sept. 29, 2006, article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel stated, "the record is clear that al-Libi was under custody of U.S. secret forces in 2001 when the CIA blindfolded him, duct-taped him, loaded him onto an airplane, told him they planned to rape his mother while he was away, then flew him off to Egypt.  "Interrogators in a secret hell-hole prison there asked al-Libi none too gently to admit that Saddam Hussein was teaching al-Qaeda to make chemical and biological weapons.
According to The New Yorker, The New York Times, Newsweek and others, Al-Libi gave them what they wanted. Later he recanted, and said he told the lies to end the pain of torture… Still, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others in the Iraq group--a team set up inside the White House in 2002 to sell America on the idea of invading Iraq--made al-Libi’s lies a centerpiece of their case. Just how aware Bush was that he based his war on a pack of lies should be looked into." 
Curveball, Chalibi and al-Libi all lurked in the shadows of Bush's 2003 SOTU address. You know the one: It's been in the news thanks to Scooter Libby, Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. In that speech, Bush uttered 16 little words--“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”--that Joseph Wilson sought to debunk in his July 6, 2003 New York Times Op-ed piece, "What I Didn't Find In Africa."
But Bush also uttered words don't hear nearly as much, but which were equally false. “Biological weapons materials sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people… more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure… the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands… several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors… an advanced nuclear weapons development program… a design for a nuclear weapon and… five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb… he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production….” 
And it contained these striking innuendos: “Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own. Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." 
Repeat the mantra from hell.  Three stooges lied us into war:    A man named Curveball, whom we bribed.  A man named Chalibi, who conned us. A man named al-Libi, whom we tortured into telling lies. The case our leaders made to the world came mostly from these. They lied us into what just might be the worst mistake our country ever made. 
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, short story writer, freelancer, and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the (more...)
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