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Please stamp on the BBC

Whoops, there go the BBC's facts. Among many other examples, you may want
to join me in correcting this basic error.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 11:17:53 +0000 (GMT)
From: Glen Rangwala <>
Subject: Error in Iraq story

Dear Corrections Editor
Your main story on Iraq contains a significant error.
In the section entitled 'Routine mission' of "Iraq defiant over missile

you write that:
"Saddam Hussein expelled UN weapons inspectors in 1998 and has not allowed
them back."

This is wholly untrue, and has been repeatedly acknowledged as untrue by
BBC online.

Of course, as you should be aware, Saddam Hussein did not expel the
weapons inspectors. I don't think that any serious person doubts that 
UNSCOM inspectors were withdrawn early on 16 December 1999, on the order
of the then head of UNSCOM, Richard Butler; they were not expelled as you

Inspectors had been conducting investigations from 18 November to 15
December; on 15 December, Richard Butler reported to the Security Council
that Iraq had failed to grant full and unconditional access to (at least)
four sites; and, in anticipation of the airstrikes the US and UK
governments were threatening, weapons inspectors were withdrawn the
following day. Airstrikes immediately followed. Of course, it is widely
thought (and was extensively reported at the time), that the US asked
for the inspectors to be withdrawn, but even if this is not so,
inspectors were clearly withdrawn, not expelled.

UNSCOM's own official chronology of events records this bluntly:

"16 Dec 1998 The Special Commission withdraws its staff from Iraq."

Given that the debate about the role of arms inspectors in Iraq continues
to hold considerable political significance, I hope the BBC can in future
get at least the basic historical facts correct, and can remove this error 
without delay.  

Yours sincerely

Glen Rangwala

Faculty of Social and Political Sciences
Free School Lane
Tel: 44 (0)1223 334535
Fax (shared): 44 (0)1223 334550
Home tel: 44 (0)1223 515183

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