Doubts on Informant Deleted in Senate Text

By DOUGLAS JEHL

The New York Times

July 13, 2004

WASHINGTON, July 12 - Among the passages deleted from the public version of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on Iraq is a detailed assessment that casts doubt on the credibility of an Iraqi defector whose claims about Iraq's mobile biological weapons laboratories have been discredited, according to government officials. His name was kept secret because he is still working for British intelligence, they said.

About one-fifth of the 511-page report still has not been made public, despite objections from both Republican and Democratic senators. As in the case of the Iraqi defector, the deletions were the result of objections raised by American intelligence agencies in the interest of protecting sources and methods, sometimes in deference to a foreign intelligence service, according to American government officials who have read the classified version of the Senate committee's report.

In the classified version of the report, the officials said, nearly three pages are devoted to questioning the credibility of the defector, who was one of four human sources cited last year by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in a speech to the United Nations as having provided crucial information about Iraq's mobile laboratories. But in the public version of the report, released Friday, all but one paragraph in those pages is blacked out.

The defector, known to the Central Intelligence Agency as Red River, failed a polygraph examination, the American officials said. But they said crucial information about the source had been deleted from the report in deference to British intelligence, which originally relayed the information provided by the defector to the United States and has maintained a continuing relationship with him.

On the mobile laboratories, the public version of the report includes a detailed indictment of the American agencies' reliance on one central source, known as Curveball, who was introduced to German intelligence by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, and some information about a second source, who was introduced to the Defense Intelligence Agency by the I.N.C. and eventually labeled a fabricator by the D.I.A.

But in the public version, references to the other two sources - Red River and another whose code name included the word Red - are blacked out even in the table of contents. The only information about the source known as Red River is an apparent reference to the failed polygraph test, which notes that the intelligence committee staff has asked a polygraph expert from the Department of Defense "about the possibility of a 'false positive' " resulting from a polygraph examination.

The source known as Red was identified only in one paragraph of the report, which is partly blacked out, according to one government official. The public version of the report does not say whether he, too, was introduced by the I.N.C., but it notes that his only claim about mobile biological weapons laboratories was spelled out in a June 2001 report.

In the same e-mail message sent to a Central Intelligence Agency official shortly before Mr. Powell gave the speech citing the defector's account, an American intelligence official working with the Defense Department, who had questioned Curveball's credibility, did the same with Red, the report shows. The official noted that the source was "one whose reliability nor reporting has been valuated" and that the reporting had "inconsistencies that need further checking," the report said.

Among other material deleted from the report, government officials said, were details of covert actions undertaken by American intelligence agencies to gather information about Iraq and to disrupt suspicious shipments to it, including aluminum tubes.

But the deletions also included material that appears to have been much more benign, including single words, which in at least one case could have referred only to the gender of a C.I.A. official not identified in the report.

The public version of the report contained much more information than the C.I.A. had initially been willing to approve for release, according to Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the committee. In early June, the agency had approved for release only about half of the document, Mr. Roberts said last week, and relented only after long negotiations with the committee staff.

Mr. Roberts and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel, have said they will continue to press the C.I.A. to agree to the release of more of the document, adding that they still believe that more information could be released without harm to American national security.

Government officials who took part in the negotiations described a process in which representatives of the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency in particular raised the most objections to release of material contained in the classified version of the report. Those agencies were primarily seeking to protect information about the sources and methods of their intelligence-gathering activities, involving both human and technical intelligence.

The officials said that the C.I.A. was also protective of its relationships with foreign intelligence services, including those of Britain, Germany and Jordan, which provided much of the human intelligence on Iraq and its supposed illicit weapons. None of those intelligence services is mentioned in the Senate report, which takes American intelligence agencies to task for their reliance on foreign governments in providing sources of human intelligence on Iraq and illicit weapons.

"While these sources had the potential to provide some valuable information, they had a limited ability to provide the kind of detailed intelligence about current Iraqi weapons of mass destruction efforts sought by U.S. policymakers," the report said. "Moreover, because the intelligence community did not have direct access to many of these sources, their credibility was difficult to assess and was often left to the foreign government services to judge."