Spinning out of control
Twelve years ago, a decision was made at the highest levels of both the US and UK governments, to invade Iraq
26/06/03. Wonderful! Alistair Campbell accuses the BBC of "lying" because, he asserts, the BBC accused the government of lying over the ’45 minute’ scenario. Is this a desert storm in a teacup? Whilst the two monopolies go at each other, the essential issues simply don’t enter into the discussion at all, from either side. Whilst they squabble over whether or not one of the other lied, the real issue, why we went to war, disappears from sight.
In his testimony to the Commons Select committee yesterday (25/06/03) Campbell launched into a blistering attack on the Beeb demanding an "apology" for the "lies" and asserting, just as his masters had before him, that they told no untruths, no exaggerations but did admit to some ‘errors of judgement’ for which they apologised (like ripping off a 12-year-old student thesis, removing the author’s name and altering key words in it that gave it an entirely different spin?).
The role of the Iraqi National Congress
Eating your (yellow) cake and keeping it?
"The letters, it was revealed, were hoaxes -- crude
forgeries discredited by nuclear weapons experts and disowned by the
Central Intelligence Agency. Speaking to Reuters on condition of
anonymity, a senior official from the U.N. nuclear agency who saw
the documents offered as evidence that Iraq tried to buy 500 tons of
uranium from Niger, described one as so badly forged his "jaw
Moreover, it had taken the IAEA "months" to get hold of these documents as they first started circulating in the US as early as 2000 (one of the fake letters is dated October 2000). Bush used them in his State of the Union address and according to Congressman Jim Waxman, they formed an important plank in his support for the war,
"Waxman, who says he signed on to Bush's war initiative in part because he was concerned about Iraq's nuclear aims, wonders how the forgeries could have been used as evidence of Iraqi malfeasance for so many months after they were officially debunked. At the very least, he writes, the recent revelations have created a perception that facts were withheld to bolster the President's case for war.
"It appears that at the same time that you, Secretary
Rumsfeld, and State Department officials were citing Iraq's efforts
to obtain uranium from Africa as a crucial part of the case against
Iraq, U.S. intelligence officials regarded this very same evidence
as unreliable," he writes in his letter to the president.
"If true, this is deeply disturbing: it would mean that your
Administration asked the U.N. Security Council, the Congress, and
the American people to rely on information that your own experts
knew was not credible."
Now it appears that long before the IAEA exposed them as forgeries to the Security Council in March 2003, they were known to be forgeries to the CIA as early as 2001 but definitely well before the publication of the UK September dossier:
"Further, the Agency asserted that it made its concerns
known to administration officials in late 2001, shortly after
telling the White House about the letters. For more than a year,
Washington had used evidence repudiated by its own intelligence
advisors to build a case for war."
So when the Blair government used them in the September 2002 dossier, they used them knowing that they were forgeries. Why? Enter Operation Rockingham.
"'cherry-pick' information which pointed towards Saddam
having a WMD stockpile that he could use imminently. Right up until
the outbreak of war, the staff of Operation Rockingham, which was
set up by the defence intelligence staff within the Ministry of
Defence, deliberately overlooked 'mountains' of reports and
intelligence documents which pointed towards Saddam destroying his
arsenal and instead used 'selective intelligence' from just a tiny
pool of data to create a false and misleading picture that the Iraqi
ruler was a direct threat to the West."
Proof of the existence of Operation Rockingham was revealed by Scott Ritter, former chief weapons inspector in Iraq and former US military intelligence officer. Says Ritter,
"Operation Rockingham became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, even though Unscom was showing the opposite…. Operation Rockingham cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data but had a pre-ordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD.
"Britain and America were involved in a programme of joint
exploitation of intelligence from Iraqi defectors. There were
mountains of information coming from these defectors, and Rockingham
staff were receiving it and then selectively culling reports that
sustained the claims that weapons of mass destruction were in
existence. They ignored the vast majority of the data which
mitigated against such claims."
What is critical about this, is that Operation Rockingham shared its information with the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and with the US’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), a unit set up by secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld inside the Pentagon. Again, according to Ritter,
"The JIC is, in my view, the mirror organisation of the OSP.
They both did the same thing. The JIC was receiving information from
all the intelligence agencies."
But Blair told Parliament on June 4 2003, that the intelligence dossier published in September 2002 was,
"based, in large part, on the work of the Joint Intelligence
Committee" [and that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Niger
was] "judged by the (JIC) at the time to be correct."
So, Blair cannot claim as he stated in Parliament on June 4 2003 that the information on the Niger yellow cake was correct at the time of its inclusion in the dossier. It is also clear from a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document dated September 2002 that,
"no reliable information…on whether Iraq is producing and
stockpiling chemical weapons or whether Iraq has -- or will --
establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."
Shifting the blame
And ever since the embarrassing revelations came into the public eye, the government has done everything in its power to deflect criticism away from its policies, either by denying that anything was wrong with its assertions or by simply evading the issues. Most damning of all, is its claim that nothing it has said "none has been disproved" (Jack Straw, 24/06/03), when the mountain of evidence shows this statement to be an out and out lie.
The essential issue here has nothing to do with ‘exaggeration’ or what was said to who or when it was said, but the core issue that twelve years ago, a decision was made at the highest levels of both the US and UK governments, to invade Iraq and that the populations of both countries would take a lot of convincing to go along with the plan. Hence it was necessary to produce ‘ overwhelming proof’ of Saddam’s duplicity. Had it emerged and most importantly, been pursued by the mass media back in 2002, when there was still time to stall the build-up to war, events might have turned out very differently.
What is laughable about this pack of liars, is that any suggestion that members of government would lie, is met with outraged howls of ‘how dare you suggest such a thing!’ And these cries of outrage, come from not only from the ‘wolves’ but from other members of government, even those in opposition to the invasion, who simply find it impossible to consider the idea that our ‘leaders’ would lie to us in order to pursue a policy that was opposed by the vast majority of the population. The fantasy that somehow, British politicians are a cut above everybody else’s when it comes to telling the truth, is in itself an outrageous lie that has been peddled to the population ad nauseum. Indeed, it forms the basis of the very idea of ‘spin’.
And if indeed, they are not lying, then the statements made here and elsewhere, give the government every reason to haul me and many others into court and prove it.
Copyright © 2003William Bowles. All rights reserved. You have the right to republish under the following conditions: Please request permission from the copyright owner first; please supply the copyright owner with the URL or publication of the reposting site; do not alter or remove the contents, including this copyright notice.
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