Sunday, November 04, 2007

The lying snitch who sent America to war

This blog seldom if ever focuses on Middle East foreign policy, but I do try to pay attention to the subject of criminal informants and the problems surrounding excessive and unrestrained reliance on information obtained in exchange for either pay or law enforcement's leniency.

So I couldn't help but notice and mention that tonight, 60 Minutes will identify and interview the CIA snitch known as "Curveball," whose mendacious obloquies arguably provided the foundation for misguided assessments of Iraqi WMD capacity by American intelligence that ultimately led the nation down the path to war. Curveball's
reports of alleged mobile biological weapons labs were a cornerstone of President Bush's rationale for going to war. The program, which airs Sunday, identifies him as Rafid Ahmed Alwan, who 60 Minutes says was "not only a liar, but also a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be."
How often do we see this scenario play out at all levels of government: An informant assisting authorities who turns out to have their own, contrary agenda? I can think of many cases in routine law enforcement where snitches have manipulated their handlers, from the present day back to ancient times (not to mention fictional portrayals). But I'm not sure I can think of another case off the top of my head (the Gulf of Tonkin, perhaps?) where false information from an informant led directly to war, though perhaps readers can recall such historical instances.

Anyway, those interested in the subject of snitching should watch the 60 Minutes segment tonight.

RELATED: Scott Greenfield rounds up recent discussions and clarifies his own position on "The Rat Paradox," i.e., whether criminal defense lawyers are justified in refusing to represent defendants who seek to trade information to reduce culpability for their own crimes. Interesting stuff: Sort of the criminal defense bar's version of the Stop Snitching "movement." I'd guess part of the decision not to represent snitches is based on attorneys' hesitation to take part in accusing new defendants of crimes when they may not trust their own client's word. Curveball demonstrates the worst-case scenario for what can happen when informants lie, and should make us wonder how many times snitches in lesser cases abuse their positions against the interests of safety and justice?


Anonymous said...

So Curveball is a coddled, lazy, underachieving college student who used the US government to bail himself out of his own pathetic personal failures.

Sounds a lot like the guy he hoodwinked. Maybe they should go bowling.

The Chauncey Gardner presidency continues...


Anonymous said...

That's too funny Bill... are you and George related? lol!

Anonymous said...

Sigh... you have no idea how often I've been asked this.e It was esp bad when I lived in Austin in the 90s and had a Texas driver's license.

During the 2000 election, I got bombarbed with e-mails from strangers wanting to hook up with the Bush girls. I had a UT e-mail address, and my user name was "wbush" - go figure, right?