Informant's handlers say they repeatedly warned of unreliability.
By Bob Drogin and John Goetz
Special to The Morning Call
BERLIN | -- The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush Aadministration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims before the Iraq war.
Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with the Los Angeles Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.
According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's claims in his pre-war presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.
Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly second-hand and impossible to confirm.
"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."