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[casi] Keeping the heat on the media over the ``dossier''

Dear Listmembers,

If we write a lot of letters today to follow up the articles
about Glen's expose that have appeared in newspapers today,
we can make this run longer. We're in a good position to
do this because we're up to speed and have some of Glen's detailed
analysis to hand. The Guardian article is below. I can't access
any others. If someone else can, and can post them, that'd be

Best wishes,

Letters to:

*UK war dossier a sham, say experts*

British 'intelligence' lifted from academic

Michael White and Brian Whitaker
Friday February 7, 2003
The Guardian

Downing Street was last night plunged into acute
international embarrassment after it emerged that large
parts of the British government's latest dossier on Iraq -
allegedly based on "intelligence material" - were taken
from published academic articles, some of them several
years old.

Amid charges of "scandalous" plagiarism on the night
when Tony Blair attempted to rally support for the US-led
campaign against Saddam Hussein, Whitehall's dismay
was compounded by the knowledge that the disputed
document was singled out for praise by the US secretary
of state, Colin Powell, in his speech to the UN security
council on Wednesday.

Citing the British dossier, entitled Iraq - its infrastructure
of concealment, deception and intimidation in front of a
worldwide television audience Mr Powell said: "I would
call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that the
United Kingdom distributed... which describes in exquisite
detail Iraqi deception activities."

But on Channel 4 News last night it was revealed that four
of the report's 19 pages had been copied - with only
minor editing and a few insertions - from the internet
version of an article by Ibrahim al-Marashi which
appeared in the Middle East Review of International
Affairs last September.

Though that was not the only textual embarrassment No
10 seemed determined to tough it out last night.

Dismissing the gathering controversy as the latest
example of media obsession with spin, officials insisted it
in no way undermines the underlying truth of the dossier,
whose contents had been re-checked with British
intelligence sources. "The important thing is that it is
accurate," said one source.

What Whitehall may not grasp is the horror with which
unacknowledged borrowing of material - the crime of
plagiarism - is regarded in American academic and media
circles, even though successive US governments have a
poor record of misleading their own citizens on foreign
policy issues at least since the Vietnam war. On a special
edi tion of BBC Newsnight, filmed before a critical audience
last night, Mr Blair stressed that he was willing to forgo
popularity to warn voters of the dangers of weapons of
mass destruction: "I may be wrong, but I do believe it."

With trust a critical element in the battle to woo a
sceptical public the first sentence of the No 10 document
merely states, somewhat cryptically, that it "draws upon a
number of sources, including intelligence material".

But Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Cambridge
University, told Channel 4: "I found it quite startling when I
realised that I'd read most of it before."

The content of six more pages relies heavily on articles by
Sean Boyne and Ken Gause that appeared in Jane's
Intelligence Review in 1997 and last November. None of
these sources is acknowledged.

The document, as posted on Downing Street's website at
the end of January, also acci dentally named four
Whitehall officials who had worked on it: P Hamill, J Pratt,
A Blackshaw and M Khan. It was reposted on February 3
with the first three names deleted.

"Apart from passing this off as the work of its intelligence
services," Dr Rangwala said, "it indicates that the UK
really does not have any independent sources of
information on Iraq's internal policies. It just draws upon
publicly available data."

Evidence of an electronic cut-and-paste operation by
Whitehall officials can be found in the way the dossier
preserves textual quirks from its original sources. One
sentence in Dr Marashi's article includes a misplaced
comma in referring to Iraq's head of military intelligence
during the 1991 Gulf war. The same sentence in Downing
Street's report contains the same misplaced comma.

A Downing Street spokesman declined to say why the
report's public sources had not been acknowledged. "We
said that it draws on a number of sources, including
intelligence. It speaks for itself."

Dr Marashi, a research associate at the Centre for
Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said no
one had contacted him before lifting the material.

But on the regular edition of Newsnight he later gave
some comfort to No 10. "In my opinion, the UK document
overall is accurate even though there are a few minor
cosmetic changes. The only inaccuracies in the UK
document were that they maybe inflated some of the
numbers of these intelligence agencies," he said.

Explaining the more journalistic changes inserted into his
work by Whitehall he added: "Being an academic paper, I
tried to soften the language.

"For example, in one of my documents, I said that they
support organisations in what Iraq considers hostile
regimes, whereas the UK document refers to it as
'supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes'.

"The primary documents I used for this article are a
collection of two sets of documents, one taken from
Kurdish rebels in the north of Iraq - around 4m
documents - as well as 300,000 documents left by Iraqi
security services in Kuwait. After that, I have been
following events in the Iraqi security services for the last
10 years."

Iraq's decision last night to let weapons inspectors
interview one of its scientists for the first time without
government "minders" signalled that Baghdad may be
bending under international pressure.

But diplomats will be trying to determine over the next few
days whether it is a token gesture or a real shift away from
what they describe as Iraq's "catch us if you can"
approach to inspections. Hours before the announcement,
a Foreign Office source in London signalled that this was
the kind of change of heart that Iraq would have to make
to avoid war.

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