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[casi] First raw read of newspapers

Raw read of most of British newspapers this morning. Hope this is useful.

Milan Rai

C Powell 5 Feb. Inspectors

Allin and Simon note that 'the weapons inspectors are back, and the threat can be contained not 
with 100 per cent confidence but with reasonable confidence that the Iraqi leader can be denied 
nuclear capabilities in particular.' (FT, 6 Feb., p. 17)

'Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors. Could we not... set up a specialised body 
to keep under surveillance the sites and areas that have already been inspected?' Dominique de 
Villepin, France's Foreign Minister. (Independent, 6 Feb., p. 1) He also urged the Security Council 
to 'very significantly reinforce the capacity for monitoring and collecting information in Iraq'. 
(Independent, 6 Feb., p. 16) De Villepin said, 'For now, the inspections regime must be 
strengthened, since it has not been explored to the end... Why go to war if there still exists an 
unused space in Resolution 1441?' (Times, 6 Feb., p. 1)

Colin Powell showed satellite photographs and played recordings of intercepted radio conversations 
which purported to show that a ballistic missile factory had been cleared out on 25 Nov., a 
deontamination truck had been used at the taji chemical munitions factory, and so on. Robert Fisk 
asked, as did many others, 'Why wasn't this intelligence information given to the inspectors months 
ago? Didn't General Powell's beloved UN resolution 1441 demand that all such intelligence 
information should be given to Hans Blix and his lads immediately? Were the Americans, perhaps, not 
being "pro-active" enough?' (Independent, 6 Feb., p. 3)

Powell said, 'The issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be 
frustrated by Iraqi obstruction but how much longer are we willing to upt up with Iraq's 
non-compliance before we, as a council, we, as the United Nations, say, "Enough. Enough".' 
(Telegraph, 6 Feb., p. 1)

'Because Powell's slideshow showed Iraq giving the UN inspectors the runaround, it also weakened 
Blix's argument that more time would bring success. Talking of the 18 lorries that are believed to 
be mobile biological weapons factories, Powell asked rhetorically how long it would take to find 
even a single one among the "thousands and thousands of trucks" on Iraq's roads.' 'Blix's report to 
the UN last week put the US on the back foot, in arguing that the inspectors deserved more time. 
Powell's performance yesterday won back a lot of that ground.' (Bronwen Maddox, Foreign Editor, 
Times, 6 Feb., p. 15)

Colin Powell 5 Feb. editorials

The FT described Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council as 'an effective 
performance', though mostly concerned with 'old information'. Powell's approach involved 'evidence 
requiring a high degree of trust', suggested the FT. It is a 'moot point' whether other members of 
the Security Council will be 'more persuaded' after Powell's presentation: 'Many of them know Iraq 
retains a residual armoury of rogue weapons; their scepticism is about whether war is the best way 
of dealing with it.' (FT, 6 Feb., p. 17)

Overall, the FT seemed against war: only if chief weapons inspector Blix 'states unequivocally that 
the inspections course has run its course' could there be a consensus in favour of using force, and 
'a consensus is what the UN and the world desperately need.' (FT, 6 Feb., p. 17)

The Independent also found the Colin Powell presentation 'impressive' - a 'bravura performance'. (6 
Feb., p. 16) However, the Independent was also unconvinced: 'Such an act of aggression by the US 
threatens to destabilise the whole region, would be a huge encouragement to fundamentalists from 
Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and would virtually guarantee an upsurge in global terrorism. The policy 
of containment and sanctions, pursued for 12 years, has been frustrating and messy; but it has 
constrained Saddam. General Powell did not tell us why we must abandon it.' (6 Feb., p. 16)

The Daily Telegraph editorial was a plain retelling of the story. The only opinion expressed was 
that 'the thrust' of Powell's 'lengthy, detailed and impressive presentation was to remind the 
United Nations that failure to confront Iraqi defiance of its resolutions would condemn it to 
irrelevance.' (6 Feb., p. 25)

The Times described Powell's presentation as 'a withering riposte to Iraq's taunt that the US has 
no evidence that it has hidden, and continues to hide, illicit weapons of enormous destructive 
power'. (6 Feb., p. 21) There were 'three pillars' to Powell's argument for war: 'evidence' that 
Iraq's nuclear programme remains live; 'evidence' that Iraq is seeking to develop and extend the 
range of ballistic missiles, sprayer planes and unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver chemical and 
biological weapons; and 'evidence' of Iraq's high-level contacts with al Qa'eda. 'In Iraq, the 
world is not up against a diminished threat lingering from the past, but confronting a dangerous 
serial offender, a dictator as contemptuous of human life as he is of international law. 
Containment has failed to prevent him building and hiding weapons that, he must be assumed to 
believe, would make him ultimately impossible to restrain. Even if it ultimately takes a war, he 
must be stopped.' (Times, 6 Feb., p. 21)

C Powell 5 Feb. reactions

Rupert Cornwell of the Independent was very impressed: 'General Powell surely sealed the legal 
case' by demonstrating that 'Iraq was technically in breach of resolution 1441' by playing 
'hide-and-seek with the inspectors'. However, Cornwell asked, 'is Iraq a threat so immediate that 
it must be tackled by force now, at the risk of further destabilisation of the region?', and, 'even 
given the changed rules of the terrorist era, do democracies have the moral right to launch an 
unprovoked war?' (Independent, 6 Feb., p. 2)

Robert Fisk, also in the Independent, was less impressed: 'It was a bit like heating up old soup.' 
(6 Feb., p. 3)

The Diplomatic Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Anton La Guardia sounded a cautious note, observing 
that Powell's case 'relied heavily on circumstantial evidence that Saddam was trying to hide the 
truth, and on his track record of deception'. Much of the 'information' presented was from 
'intelligence sources' and unnamed 'defectors' - sources 'that cannot be independently verified', 
La Guardia conceded. 'There were also assertions that could oly be described as hearsay.' 
(Telegraph, 6 Feb., p. 2) The weight and variety of 'evidence' would lead a jury to condemn Baghdad 
for consistently lying tgo the court, 'rather than assume that the US prosecution was fixing the 
evidence'. (Telegraph, 6 Feb., p. 2)

Richard Beeston of the Times observed that, 'most of what General Powell said was open to 
interpretation. There was no named high-ranking defector prepared to substantiate the allegations. 
There was no visual evidence of soldiers or scientists handling weapons such as chemical or 
biological weapons, nor even attempting to conceal huge items such as Scud missiles.' (Times, 6 
Feb., p. 14) Michael Evans noted that there were 'no pictures of the inside of any of these' 
alleged mobile biological weapons laboratories, nor 'photographic evidence' of a chemical weapons 
programme. (Times, 6 Feb., p. 14)

Of the tape recordings and satellite photographs, 'America's critics can say that such things are 
easily forged or misinterpreted' and 'They are right, and few are equipped to judge,' conceded 
Times Foreign Editor Bronwen Maddox. (Times, 6 Feb., p. 15) She was convinced, however, that a 
'convincing case' had been made that Iraq was engaged in deception.

Dana Allin (of the International Institute for Strategic Studies) and Steven Simon (formerly of the 
US National Security Council from 1994 to 1999) pointed out in the FT that Colin Powell had a 
harder task than Adlai Stevenson, President John F Kennedy's ambassador to the UN, during the Cuban 
Missile Crisis in 1962: 'the war contemplated by the US is preventive, not pre-emptive. The US and 
Britain are preparing for war to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing the same kind of threat as 
the Cuban missiles of 1962.' (6 Feb., p. 17)

Arthur Schlesinger, a former adviser to President Kennedy, who watched Adlai Stevenson's dramatic 
revelations to the Security Council in 1962, pointed out that there was a bigger problem: 'Everyone 
accepted what an American President said in 1962 without question. Nobody could make head or tail 
of the Stevenson photographs, but they all believed what he told them.' (Times, 6 Feb., p. 16) Now, 
trust has eroded.

C Powell 5 Feb Material Breach

Dr John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, gave a strange 
reply to the question, 'Does this "evidence" justify going to war?' Chipman said, 'An objective 
assessment is that it's a material breach of UN Resolution 1441.' But as Chipman knows, Resolution 
1441 did not authorise the use of force against Iraq.

C Powell 5 Feb. anthrax

'The worst moment came when General Powell started talking about anthrax and the 2001 anthrax 
attacks in Washington and New york, pathetically holdin gup a teaspoon of the imaginary spores and 
- while not precisely saying so - fraudulently suggesting a connection between Saddam Hussein and 
the 2001 anthrax scare.' Robert Fisk (Independent, 6 Feb., p. 3)

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