Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 25 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Mar 08, 05:09 PM

Tonight, MPs are debating the case for a full inquiry into the Iraq war. Newsnight is running an exclusive film which, some will say, provides compelling evidence that such an inquiry is absolutely necessary.


In the late 1990s an Iraqi engineer turned up in Germany seeking asylum. Codenamed Curveball, he was questioned by German intelligence, and what he told them was shocking. He claimed he had witnessed a biological weapons programme in Iraq.

His information was passed on to the CIA, and it became a cornerstone of the intelligence case that Colin Powell made to the United Nations on the case for war. The only problem was, none of Curveball's claims were true. And, moreover, many of the holes in his story had been identified months before Colin Powell's presentation.

Curveball's been in hiding ever since the war, but a report for Spiegel magazine has tracked him down. Tonight Newsnight will show the first images of Curveball that have been seen since the war. Does he stand by his claims? And what does the whole saga tell us about the world of intelligence? We'll be talking to Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff.

We'll also be hearing from two MPs about whether a full inquiry is now necessary - and, if so, why it's taken so long.


Nicholas Sarkozy is the latest politician to suggest that he hasn't ruled out boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in the light of the crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet. Why has the British government not been more outspoken about China's record? Are ministers hampered by the fact that Britain is hosting the 2012 Olympics? We'll debate this.

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Mar 08, 11:03 AM

Liz Gibbons is today's programme producer. Here is her early email to the team.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.

So - today we have a film almost ready to run about an Iraqi defector known as Curveball. The evidence he gave his German handlers in the years before the Iraq war formed a key part of the intelligence case made by Colin Powell. He was the key source for the allegation that Iraq had several mobile chemical weapons labs.

Since the war his evidence has been discredited. And he's been called a fabricator. We've worked alongside Spiegel magazine and tracked him down in Germany – he now claims he never said that Iraq had WMD. This leaves us with a whole host of questions about intelligence work and the Iraq war.

Otherwise - the programme is pretty wide open - and there are a lot of good stories around. So let's have a heated debate about what's around and what we can bring to the stories.

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