Wednesday, August 20, 2003

UK Officials Wanted to Gag Expert on Iraq Dossier

Government documents released on Wednesday show top British officials tried to stop a scientist airing doubts on a Iraqi weapons dossier on which Prime Minister Tony Blair based the case for war.

The documents emerged in an inquiry into the suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, sucked into the heart of a furious row between Blair's government and the BBC over whether intelligence was "sexed up" for political ends....

An official note, written on July 14, the day before Kelly was due to testify to a parliamentary committee, made clear that Kelly would be told to keep his views to himself....

"DCDI is to brief Dr Kelly this afternoon for his appearance tomorrow before the FAC and ISC and will strongly recommend that Kelly is not drawn on his assessment of the dossier," read the note, which was shown to the inquiry.

Separate documents revealed that the top civil servant at Britain's Ministry of Defense had said at a meeting in Blair's office one week earlier that some of Kelly's views would be awkward for the government.

"If he was summoned to give evidence, some of it might be uncomfortable on specifics such as the likelihood of there being weapons systems ready for use within 45 minutes," the defense civil servant said at the meeting.

The inquiry heard how Blair's official spokesmen proposed ways to tighten the draft dossier's evidence on Saddam Hussein's intent to use banned weapons.

"The weakness obviously is our inability to say that he (Saddam) could pull the nuclear trigger any time soon," Tom Kelly [no relation to David] said in one of many e-mails written by Downing Street staff and shown to the inquiry....


So was it known in the British government that the 45-minute claim was a crock? Yes. Did the government promulgate this lie anyway? Yes. Did David Kelly believe it was a crock? Clearly he did.

So why was the War Party telling us a couple of weeks ago that this was all a fabrication on the part of out-of-control, libelous Saddam-lovers at the BBC?

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