I realize I’m a little late getting into the chatter about this CBS News piece that Matt Yglesias was harping on yesterday. The reason I’m late: CBS changed the story so much I didn’t realize I’d already written about the NBC version — over a month ago (March 21). According to CBS:
Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, had made a deal to reveal Iraq’s military secrets to the CIA. [Tyler Drumheller, the CIA officicer now speaking out,] was in charge of the operation.
“This was a very high inner circle of Saddam Hussein. Someone who would know what he was talking about,” Drumheller says.
“You knew you could trust this guy?” [CBS Correspondent Ed] Bradley asked.
“We continued to validate him the whole way through,” Drumheller replied.
Once [the White House] learned what it was the source had to say — that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to wage nuclear war or have an active WMD program, Drumheller says, “They stopped being interested in the intelligence.”
The reason? Because Sabri was saying the same thing to the U.N., along with these choice words:
“The United States administration is acting on behalf of Zionism,” [Sabri] said.
And the later refusal:
The U.S. hoped Sabri would leave Iraq and publicly renounce Saddam. He repeatedly refused, sources say, and contact was broken off.
So, I’ll say it again: It’s obvious why the CIA dismissed the information he was providing: This man was clearly loyal to Saddam.