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Colin Powell demands answers over false Iraq intel: reports

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LONDON — Ex-secretary of state Colin Powell called on the CIA and Pentagon to explain how he was given unreliable information which proved key to the US case for invading Iraq, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

Powell’s landmark speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, cited intelligence about Iraq leader Saddam Hussein’s bioweapons programme gained from a defector, codenamed Curveball.

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But he has now admitted that he lied to topple the dictator, in an interview with the Guardian.

“It has been known for several years that the source called Curveball was totally unreliable,” Powell told the British newspaper.

“The question should be put to the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) as to why this wasn’t known before the false information was put into the (report) sent to Congress, the president’s state of the union address and my 5 February presentation to the UN.”

The defector, real name Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, told the Guardian that he lied to the BND, Germany’s secret service, by claiming in 2000 that Iraq had mobile bioweapons trucks and had built clandestine factories.

During Powell’s speech, Janabi was described as “an Iraqi chemical engineer” who “supervised one of these facilities.”

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“He actually was present during biological agent production runs and was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998,” Powell told the UN.

Janabi was exposed as an unreliable source when the BND visited Bassil Latif, his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, who said there were no trucks or factories.

However, the BND continued to cooperate with the trained chemical engineer, and the false statements were eventually passed on to senior US policymakers by the intelligence services.

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The resulting conflict claimed more than 100,000 civilian lives and ruined the political standing of the then US president George W. Bush and his defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Hans-Christian Stroebele, a Green deputy in Germany’s federal parliament, told the Guardian Janabi had arguably broken the German law which forbids warmongering.

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Florida reports record number of coronavirus deaths one month ahead of GOP convention

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Florida, the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, reported a record 156 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday and nearly 14,000 new infections.

The total number of virus cases in the "Sunshine State" has now surpassed 315,000 and there have been 4,782 deaths, according to Florida Department of Health figures.

The reporting of 156 virus deaths in the state in a 24-hour period surpasses the previous high of 132 deaths announced just two days earlier.

Florida is now reporting more COVID-19 cases daily than any other state in the country. California and Texas are next with about 10,000 new cases a day.

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GOP officials admit 2020 platform is basically whatever’s on Trump’s Twitter account

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President Donald Trump has shaped the Republican Party into his own image in less than four years on the job, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.

Nearly half of the House Republicans on the job when Trump took office in 2017 have either retired, resigned, been defeated or are retiring in 2020, and many of the GOP newcomers are devoted Trump loyalists, reported Politico.

“Whether the president wins or loses, his policy views and style have firmly taken over the Republican Party — nationalism and white grievance, those kinds of things,” said Matt Moore, former chairman of South Carolina's GOP. “I don’t think that Trumpy politics will be leaving the stage anytime soon.”

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Coronavirus data disappears from CDC dashboard after Trump hijacks info

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The Trump administration on Tuesday forced all hospitals and states to make a significant and immediate change in how they report coronavirus patient data, hijacking the information to be funneled into the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Experts warned the move could allow the administration to politicize the data, hide it, be less transparent, all of which interferes in the real-time usage of information to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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