Thursday, May 29, 2003

Blair learned well from his masters in the Bush administration

Looks like the U.S. government wasn't the only one leaning on its intelligence agencies to spin its reports as more damning of Saddam Hussein:
U.K. dossier on Iraq weapons 'unreliable' By Al Webb United Press International From the International Desk Published 5/29/2003 10:46 AM LONDON, May 29 (UPI) -- Britain's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was rewritten on orders from Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to make it look more dramatic in the months leading up to the U.S.-led war against Baghdad, a top intelligence official said Thursday. Blair's office rejected the British Broadcasting Corp.'s report, which cited an intelligence source. "Not one word of the dossier was not entirely the work of the intelligence agencies," it said in a statement.
That's what is known as a non-denial denial. They weren't accused of putting words in the document. They were just told to re-write it in order to make it "more dramatic". So the words may have all come from within the intelligence agency. But they didn't get published until they passed muster with the head office. That's called politicizing your intelligence agencies and its a bad idea regardless of who is doing it.
"The classic example," the BBC quoted the intelligence officer as saying, "was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use (by Iraq) within 45 minutes." In the dossier, Blair had warned that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could activate a chemical and biological arsenal in that time -- a suggestion that became a pillar of Britain's rationale for going to war alongside the United States against Baghdad. "That information was not contained in the original draft" that had been prepared for the prime minister, he said. "It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable."
Here's what probably happened: Blair's people got the "unsexy" report and didn't think it was "dramatic" enough. They also saw rough-draft reports that included an "unreliable" report that Saddam could be launch ready in 45 minutes. Blair's people sent back the report telling them to include the 45 minute report, overruling the objections that it wasn't reliable. So, the "45 minutes" phrase may have originated within the intelligence agencies, but it was an unreliable report that was played up for "dramatic purposes". You see how this works?

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