Drones

CIA Really Believed Saddam Had Disease-Armed Drones

Hint: He didn't

|

Few things age as poorly as bad intelligence. And while there was no shortage of terrible intelligence undergirding the Iraq war, there was no more bewildering claim given credulity by the CIA and the Bush administration than the idea that Saddam Hussein was going to use drones to unleash a merciless biological attack.

It's practically forgotten now. But repeatedly nestled into the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — the much-flawed summary document from the 16 intelligence agencies accusing Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction — is a wild claim that anticipated the current drone panic by a full decade.

Saddam was "working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which allow for a more lethal means to deliver biological and, less likely, chemical weapons," the 2002 estimate reads. The claim was one of the intelligence agencies' "Key Judgments" sent to Congress ahead of the vote for war, and the bioweapon-drone idea made its way into Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous case for invading Iraq at the United Nations.