[R-G] Fw: [sm] Blair spin control on 45-minute lie
info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Wed Feb 4 18:06:34 MST 2004
"Sanjoy Mahajan" <sanjoy at mrao.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:<bvs2e2$n9q$1 at pencil.math.missouri.edu>...
The biggest joke of recent days is Bush and Blair "admitting" that they
didn't know that the intelligence reports were faulty. Must be what
their psychological warfare experts advise on fighting the public; they
must hold the public in such contempt.
My dictionary defines "admit" as "concede as true." But anyone with
sense was not claiming that Blair relied on wrong intelligence. Rather
it was that Blair lied to market a war. His recent admission is an
attempt to debate the bogus question of whether he should or should not
have relied on the intelligence reports, and to avoid the important
question of his lies to promote his war crimes.
Blair admits he did not know 45-minute claim referred to battlefield weapons
By Nigel Morris and Ben Russell
05 February 2004
Tony Blair admitted yesterday that he led the crucial parliamentary
debate which approved the war in Iraq without knowing the full truth
behind the Government's claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass
destruction within 45 minutes.
He was pressed in the Commons to spell out when he knew that the claim
Iraq could launch a deadly attack with weapons of mass destruction
within that period related only to battlefield weapons, rather than
long-range missiles. Mr Blair said: "I've already indicated exactly
when this came to my attention; it wasn't before the debate on 18
"When you say that a battlefield weapon would not be a weapon of mass
destruction, if there were chemical or biological or nuclear
battlefield weapons that most certainly would be held as a weapon of
mass destruction and the idea that their use wouldn't threaten
regional stability I find somewhat eccentric."
In comments that appeared to contradict evidence to the Hutton inquiry
by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, Mr Blair admitted: "The report
from the Secret Intelligence Service did not specify the specific
delivery system to which the time of 45 minutes applied."
Critics of the war seized on Mr Blair's comments. Robin Cook, the
former foreign secretary, told MPs: "I find it difficult to reconcile
what I knew and what I'm sure the Prime Minister knew at the time we
had the vote in March."
The claim by Dr Brian Jones in The Independent yesterday that the
anxieties of intelligence officers about the dossier were overruled
was repeatedly aired in a fractious debate on the Hutton report that
had to be briefly suspended because of heckling by anti-war
Mr Blair acknowledged that there was a question over the failure of
intelligence chiefs to consider the doubts of Dr Jones over the threat
posed by Iraq. But the Prime Minister insisted that questions of
procedure within Dr Jones's department were "a million miles away"
from the former BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's claim that Downing
Street "sexed up" the dossier that made the case for war. He said that
Dr Jones' concern about the wording was "hardly of earth-shattering
Mr Blair said: "Those concerns never came to the full Joint
Intelligence Committee, let alone Downing Street. ... The fact is that
what you cannot possibly say is that Downing Street had anything to do
"There may well be issues that arise in relation to, for example, what
are procedures within the department and so on, but that is a million
miles away from the allegation that was broadcast."
Mr Blair rejected demands, led by the Tory leader, Michael Howard, to
publish the secret intelligence that is said to have backed the
45-minute claim. He said: "Dr Jones saw all the intelligence there was
to see on it; so incidentally did Lord Hutton. The intelligence
referred to in the [Independent] article which he did not see was, I
am told, intelligence about the production of chemical and biological
"He did not see it because the SIS [Secret Intelligence Services] put
it out on a very restricted basis due to source sensitivity. His
superiors were, however, briefed on the intelligence. It does not
actually bear on the 45-minute point at all."
Mr Blair argued that the BBC report which prompted the Hutton inquiry
was "100 per cent wrong", but he conceded that intelligence service
concerns over the dossier's phrasing of the Government's dossier was
the "grain of truth" behind Mr Gilligan's story.
Flanked by the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, and 10 other cabinet
ministers, Mr Blair agreed with one MP that opposition to the Hutton
report's findings were sparked by "frustration" that no ministers had
been forced out by the issue. He said: "The report itself - clear,
forensic and utterly comprehensive in terms of the analysis of the
evidence - is the best defence to the charges of government whitewash,
often by the same people who just over a week ago were describing Lord
Hutton as a model of impartiality, wisdom and insight."
Mr Howard urged Mr Blair to publish the original intelligence used to
support the 45-minute claim. He said: "There are some things which can
and should be done in relation to these issues, though which don't
need the report of that inquiry; some things which can be done now.
"Writing in The Independent today, Dr Brian Jones has made a specific
request to the Prime Minister to publish now the intelligence which he
was not shown at the time ,which he says lies behind the Government's
claims that Iraq was actively producing chemical weapons and could
launch an attack within 45 minutes of an order to do so. Dr Jones
clearly does not believe, given that Saddam Hussein has now been
overthrown, that even if that intelligence came from a source that was
sensitive then at the time when Saddam still ruled Iraq, it is
sensitive now. It seems to me the request which Dr Jones has made is
an entirely reasonable one."
Mr Howard told MPs that he had rejected the original terms of
reference for the new inquiry because the committee "should consider
the way in which the Government used the intelligence with which it
had been provided".
, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "The Government made every
conceivable effort to have a public presentation, in terms of the
interpretation of that document, that clearly was designed to move
people decidedly in one direction, and one direction only. That is why
so many of these questions remained outstanding then and remain
outstanding now." Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP who described Dr
Kelly as "chaff" during the scientist's appearance before the Foreign
Affairs Committee, urged parliamentary committees not to take the
He said: "It's our duty not to buckle under this. It seems to me that
what we want are MPs who are still prepared to ignore the sign which
says, 'no trespass, don't go here'.
"Where the door says, 'do not enter' you open it and go through and
that's going to be my commitment to this House regardless of what has
happened in the past, which I deeply regret."
Bernard Jenkin, shadow Defence Secretary at the time of the war, said:
"If we want the public to believe that published intelligence
information is intelligence and not propaganda we've got to be able to
answer the question: at what stage does intelligence become propaganda
when it is in the hands of the spin doctors and the politicians?"
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