Death of Former European CIA Division Director Who Had Disputed Bush

Former high-level CIA official Tyler S. Drumheller died on August 2, 2015 of pancreatic cancer in Virginia. Heller was 63 and renown for his assertions that George W. Bush had knowingly hyped inaccurate evidence of Iraqi biological weapons to justify the 2003 invasion.

Drumheller had been chief of the European division of the CIA and thus was privy to high-level information. He claimed to have warned George J. Tenet, the former agency director, that the Iraqi defector who claimed that the country had mobile labs to create biological weapons was mentally unstable. The chemical engineer—aptly named Curveball—later admitted that he had fabricated the story while he was seeking asylum.

While Tenet denied having been told this, a 2005 presidential commission concluded that warnings about Curveball’s reliability had been expressed to CIA senior officials. This information never made it to Colin Powell who repeated the claim that there was strong evidence for Iraqi biological weapons before the UN Security Council.

In addition, Drumheller said that one of Saddam Hussein’s ministers had confided to US intelligence that the Iraqis had not stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.

Drumheller operated under cover most of his 26 years with the CIA, but his profile rose after his retirement. In 2006, he wrote On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence with Elaine Monaghan. He was interviewed by Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes and extensively by Der Spiegel.

More recently, Drumheller figured in congressional inquiries into emails between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal while she was Secretary of State. Before he joined the agency, Drumheller obtained a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia and then studied Chinese at Georgetown University. He is survived by his wife Linda Drumheller, a daughter, his sister, and a grandson.