Senate Report Disputes Press Accounts of CIA Polygraph of Iraqi Informant

As mentioned by Washington Post staff writer Walter Pincus in a recent article, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence‘s recently released report, The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress (9.5 mb PDF), documents three intelligence sources who provided unreliable information but nonetheless passed DIA polygraph screening examinations.

One of these intelligence sources, identified in the report as Source One, appears to be Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri (عدنان احسان سعيد الحيدري), whom author James Bamford discussed in his Rolling Stones investigative article, “The Man Who Sold the War”:

The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand.

On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man’s chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man’s brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.

Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam’s men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff — just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That’s why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

But the Senate report contradicts Bamford, stating at p. 41: “DIA administered a polygraph of Source One in early 2002, which he passed.” Following three full lines of redacted text, the report continues: “There were no other Intelligence Community polygraphs of Source One prior to the DIA administered polygraph.” A footnote then adds: “Press stories alleging that Source One failed a CIA polygraph in December 2001 are inaccurate.” Thus, it appears that the case of Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri is no polygraph success story.

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