Controversy over 45 Minute Claim
Nick Theros is denying stories that appeared in Newsweek and theThe Guardian that claim to demonstrate how expatriate networks suckered the United States and Tony Blair into believing exaggerated claims about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction capacitities.
Here’s the story: Patrick Theros (an Ann Arborite) is a former US ambassador to Qatar and had been a long-serving State Department diplomat. At one point he was over-all coordinator for anti-terrorism efforts in the US government. He more recently served as president and executive director of the US-Qatar Business Council. Note that the Qataris were most alarmed by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and Qatari pilots flew missions against Saddam’s forces in the Gulf War. Many in the Gulf sheikhdoms rightly despise Saddam and his regime and wanted it gone.
Newsweek and the Guardian maintain that Mr. Theros’s son, Nick Theros, became a spokesman for Iyad Alawi and his Iraqi National Accord. Alawi himself was a civilian Baathist (a neurologist) who broke with the party and became a successful businessman. In 1990 he founded the Iraqi National Accord, which mainly grouped ex-Baathist officers, mostly Sunni Arabs. The INA attempted to provoke several coups in the 1990s, but failed. It was backed by the CIA when Ahmad Chalabi proved unreliable and unable to account for millions of the dollars given him by the US State Department and the CIA.
Nick Theros denied in a widely circulated email today that he was an INA spokesman. He said:
>First, I am not, as implied in this piece, a representative of the INA. I
>articulated this clearly to Hosenball and added that I and Theros & Theros
>represent Dr. Ayad Allawi’s interests — in his capacity as a member of the
>IGC — in the United States. I told him I do not / could not speak for the
>INA. His claim that I “confirmed that the INA was the source of a purported
>secret document” is patently false. I merely mentioned that the press
>reports could be accurate because the INA has had a long relationship with
>MI6 and CIA and was active in gathering intelligence prior to the war.
Newsweek and the Guardian reported that Theros passed on to MI 6, British intelligence, the allegation by a former Iraqi air-defense officer named Lt. Col. al-Dabbagh, that Iraq could deploy chemical weapons in as little as 45 minutes. Whatever its source, it is clear that this uncorroborated anecdotal information from a single source was accepted as Gospel by Tony Blair’s government, and the Prime Minister even famously quoted it in an over-heated speech and then included it in an influential 2002 government report. The Newsweek article alleged that Nick Theros admitted that it was “a crock of shit.”
“Last week a Newsweek reporter, Mark Hosenball, called me to follow up on
>several stories that appeared in the UK press alleging that Dr. Ayad Allawi
>and the INA were the source for several controversial intelligence claims
>– namely, the claim that Saddam could have launched WMDs within 45
>minutes; the Niger Yellow Cake controversy; and the recent claim that 9-11
>hijacker Mohammad Atta had trained with Abu Nidal in Baghdad. Further,
>these are not “fresh leaks” as Hosenball states, but old stories. They are
>in fact not “leaks” at all. Both Dr. Allawi and Col. Al-Dabbagh merely
>acknowledged that they had passed on intelligence information to MI6 as
>received. They were not “hyping” or politicizing intelligence, but rather,
>passing raw intelligence reports for analysis by US and UK intelligence
>agencies. End of story — which is why more responsible reporters haven’t
“Finally, Hosenball actually went ahead and quoted that I had said that the
>”claim now ‘looks like it could have been a crock of s–t'” implying that
>Col. Al-Dabbagh’sinformation was dubious. NO. NO. NO. Commenting on
>Al-Dabbagh’s statements to the Telegraph, I said that Saddam probably did
>tell / deliver “crates” to his troops claiming that they were “a secret
>weapon” to use against the invading American forces but since no one saw
>what was in the crates, it “could have been a crock of s–t” designed for
Informed Comment earlier remarked on the Newsweek and Guardian stories as they appeared, and accepted the allegation that Theros was a spokesman for the Iraqi National Accord. It is apparently more accurate to say that Theros is a publicist for Alawi himself, and I apologize for the inaccuracy.
That said, it seems to me that Theros doth protest too much. It is obvious to me that the Iraqi National Accord and Iyad Alawi passed to British intelligence and to Con Coughlin at the Telegraph a series of patently false reports that bolstered the case for war against Iraq but which were wholly unfounded. (Coughlin is either gullible or disingenuous.) For Alawi now to say that he was innocent because he was only providing “information” to be “evaluated” is an attempt to escape responsibility for his own actions.
All those naive conservatives over at the Weekly Standard and the National Review who practically had an orgasm when they saw the memo Doug Feith leaked full of cherry-picked ‘intelligence’ about Saddam links to al-Qaeda should go take a cold shower. Turns out that Lt. Col. al-Dabbagh was also a primary source of such allegations. Al-Dabbagh could have sold that crowd the 14th of July Bridge in Baghdad and they would have paid a premium for it. Want to bet that if we could see where Feith’s ‘information’ came from, it would all be single-source unreliable defectors pimped by Alawi, Chalabi and the other fraudsters?