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The British dossiers

 
  

Project: History of US Interventions

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September 7, 2002

       While at Camp David, Tony Blair says to President Bush (referring to Iraq) 'We haven't the faintest idea what has been going on in the last four years ... other than what we know is an attempt to carry on rebuilding weapons.'. [Mirror article; Article; Article]
          

September 24, 2002

       The British government releases its first dossier - 'Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction - The assessment of the British Government'. According a suddenly much more confident Blair, 'The assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme'. [Full dossier; Article]
          

Oct 2002

       The dossier is used by Bush in convincing congress into giving him a blank check to launch the war with Iraq.
          

Jan 2003

       The British government releases its second dossier, depicted as an up-to-date and highly unsettling assessment by the British intelligence services of Iraq's security apparatus and its efforts to hide its activities from weapons inspectors and to resist international efforts to force it to disarm. It is paraded by Tony Blair and Colin Powell as quality research and a searing indictment of Saddam's regime. [Second dossier; Article; Article] This second dossier is soon found to be largely based on a 12-year-old PhD thesis posted on the internet, with only minor propagandistic modifications, such as 'monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq' having become 'spying on foreign embassies in Iraq', and 'aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes' turned into 'supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes'. [Channel4 article; Article; Article; Article; Article] Blair defends the second 'dodgy' dossier by pointing to the first. (like a few more of Blairs twisted lies ...) Jack Straw would finally in June admit the dossier was an 'embarrassment' and apologise to the student whose thesis was plagiarised. [BBC article]
          

June 2003

       A row erupts between the British government and the BBC over a BBC report that the government 'sexed up' the September dossier in reporting that Saddam could deploy WMDs within 45 minutes of an order. The BBC refuses to back down from the claim or to name the source. [Guardian article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]
          

July 7, 2003

       The House of Commons Foreign Affairs committee rules that the first dossier had undermined the government's case for war because it contained material plagiarised from a 12-year-old graduate thesis found on the Internet. The September dossier, the committee says, gave undue prominence to an uncorroborated claim that Saddam's troops could deploy chemical and biological weapons at 45 minutes notice. It also contained an incorrect claim that Iraq had recently sought significant quantities of uranium in the African nation of Niger. [Report in full; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article; Article]
          

July 18, 2003

       David Kelly, the source for the BBC's claims that the Government 'sexed up' the September dossier, is found dead, following in his words 'intolerable pressure' put on him by politicians during the row between the BBC and the government. [Guardian article; Article; Article; Article; Article] Tony Blair promises a public inquiry. [Guardian article]
          

August 1, 2003

       The Hutton inquiry into David Kelly's death begins. [Guardian article; Article; Article]
          

August 26, 2003

       John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), the body responsible for drawing up the dossier, admits during the Hutton inquiry that the 45 minute claim only referred to battlefield munitions, rather than strategic weapons (i.e. missiles) as it was at the time taken to mean (and appears to mean given the context - the document talks about the Iraq's ballistic missile program 'capable of reaching Cyprus, Eastern Turkey, Tehran and Israel' just two paragraphs above the 45 minute claim, and it was this connection that the headlines made the next day).

When John Scarlett is asked why they failed to correct the headlines which reported the misinterpretation, he answers ' it is not my immediate responsibility to correct headlines and if I did that, I certainly would not have time to do my job.'. [Transcripts; Article; Article; Article]
It appears that David Kelly was like everyone else confused by this claim, also taking it to refer to missiles. [Guardian article; Article] The final conclusions for the inquiry have not been yet reached. However, in addition to the above, it has already revealed a lot of dirt in the government's scapegoating of David Kelly, lead to spin-doctor Alister Campbell's resignation, and caused public trust in the British Government to plunge (only 24% trusting Blair down from 74% at the start of his term). Follow this Guardian report for the latest information. [Guardian special report; Article; Article; Article; Article]
          

Further Reading

      
          


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