Sunday, August 9, 2015


Tyler Drumheller
     I was sorry to hear that high-level CIA officer Tyler Drumheller passed away from pancreatic cancer last week. He had impeccable credentials and was an intelligence source above reproach. Perhaps, that's why he held my admiration during the Bush administration's resolve to invade Iraq despite his (Drumheller) efforts to convey the truth that Curveball was an unreliable source to justify to the American public that Saddam Hussein had WMD's.
     In fact, the seasoned CIA operative and division chief for the Directorate of Operations (DO) in Europe was baffled by the huge gap between Curveball's fly-by-night reputation amongst intelligence professionals and the unquestioned blind faith that the Bush administration placed on his statements about Hussein's WMD.
     Drumheller built up a global intelligence network of recruited assets and operatives during his 26 years as an intelligence officer, so it was no surprise when his associates in German intelligence told him their grave doubts about Curveballs credibility, calling him a "fabricator" possessing a "very erratic character."

Drumheller's warning were ignored by the Bush administration

     I recall the Bush administration's incessant support for Curveball's claims about WMD in Iraq while Drumheller was shouting out warnings that the intel was bogus. He told top CIA officials and even made an attempt to delete the "Iraq has WMD" language from a preliminary draft of Colin Powell's speech before the United Nations.
     No surprise that a scornful 2005 report on the Iraq intelligence failures referred to Drumheller's concerns over Curveball's credibility. Without mentioning his name, the report stated that "an official in the CIA's European division had expressed serious concerns about Curveball's reliability to senior officials at the CIA and the warnings were inexplicably dismissed."
     The Bush administration's Curveball devotion persisted in the face of Drumheller's forewarnings, thus making the miscalculated Iraq invasion not an intelligence failure, but a presidential policy ruse to invade Iraq. The "Iraq possessing WMD" claim was the centerpiece of Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech and became the focus of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations. However, Powell was duped, for he was not told about Drumheller's doubts about Curveball.  In fact, in his book “On the Brink,” Drumheller revealed that his heart sank as he watched Powell's UN speech.
     Perhaps Greg Miller, who covers the intelligence beat for The Washington Post, best describes Tyler Drumheller's life at the CIA. Miller stated that Mr. Drumheller had retained a young CIA recruit’s enthusiasm for much of his career, but grew tired of the internal conflicts after the Sept. 11 attacks. In retirement, he asked to have his CIA Distinguished Career Intelligence medal delivered by mail rather than returning to headquarters for a ceremony. When the envelope arrived, he wrote, Drumheller opened it up and fell into a bit of a reverie, reflecting on his career and the years past, the successes and the friends gained, the colleagues lost and the mistakes made.
     So sad. Tyler Drumheller...a true Whistleblower...he will be missed.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). He is author of the spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean."

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