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[casi] NY Times - Gov. Admits Much of Dossier Came from Magazines (8 Feb 03)

Note the New York Times is the US "paper of record".

Source: Sarah Lyall, “Britain Admits That Much of Its Report on Iraq Came
>From Magazines”, New York Times, 8 February 2003,


LONDON, Feb. 7 — The British government admitted today that large sections
of its most recent report on Iraq, praised by Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell as “a fine paper” in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday,
had been lifted from magazines and academic journals.

But while acknowledging that the 19-page report was indeed a “pull-together
of a variety of sources,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair defended
it as “solid” and “accurate.”

The document, “Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and
Intimidation,” was posted on No. 10 Downing Street’s Web site on Monday. It
was depicted as an up-to-date and unsettling assessment by the British
intelligence services of Iraq’s security apparatus and its efforts to hide
its activities from weapons inspectors and to resist international efforts
to force it to disarm.

But much of the material actually came, sometimes verbatim, from several
nonsecret published articles, according to critics of the government’s
policy who have studied the documents. These include an article published in
the Middle East Review of International Affairs in September 2002, as well
as three articles from Jane’s Intelligence Review, two of them published in
the summer of 1997 and one in November 2002.

In some cases, the critics said, parts of the articles — or of summaries
posted on the Internet — were paraphrased in the report. In other cases,
they were plagiarized — to the extent that even spelling and punctuation
errors in the originals were reproduced.

The Blair government did not deny that any of this had happened. But its
spokesman insisted today that the government believed “the text as published
to be accurate” and that the document had been published because “we wanted
to show people not only the kind of regime we were dealing with, but also
how Saddam Hussein had pursued a policy of deliberate deception.”

He added: “In retrospect, we should, to clear up any confusion, have
acknowledged which bits came from public sources and which bits came from
other sources.” He said the document had been written by government
officials and drawn from “a number of sources, including intelligence

“The overall objective was to give the full picture without compromising
intelligence sources,” he said.

But critics of the government said that not only did the document appear to
have been largely cut and pasted together, but also that the articles it
relied on were based on information that is, by now, obsolete.

For instance, the second section of the three-part report, which is
described on the Downing Street Web site as providing “up-to-date details of
Iraq’s network of intelligence and security,” was drawn in large part from
“Iraq’s Security and Intelligence Network: a Guide,” an article about the
activities of Iraqi intelligence in Kuwait in 1990 and 1991, which appeared
in the Middle East Review of International Affairs last September. Its
author was Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies in California.

Mr. Marashi told Channel 4 News, which first reported the plagiarism
charges, that his research had been drawn primarily from two huge sets of
documents: “one taken from Kurdish rebels in the north of Iraq — around four
million documents — as well as 300,000 documents left by Iraqi security
services in Kuwait.” He also said that while he had no reason to doubt the
truth of anything he had written and believed the government report to be
accurate, no one had asked permission or informed him about using his work.

“I am surprised, flattered as well, that this information got used in a U.K.
government dossier,” Mr. Marashi said in an interview with Reuters. “Had
they consulted me, I could have provided them with more updated

Dr. Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University who has
compared the British report with the articles it used as sources, said that
in some cases, the authors apparently changed phrases from the original
articles to make the case against Iraq seem more extreme.

For instance, Dr. Rangwala said, a section on the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi
directorate of general intelligence, appeared to have been lifted verbatim
from Mr. Marashi’s article, except for a few tweaks. Where Mr. Marashi
mentions that the Mukhabarat’s responsibilities include “monitoring foreign
embassies in Iraq,” the government document speaks of “spying on foreign
embassies in Iraq.” Mr. Marashi’s description of the Mukhabarat’s role in
“aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes” becomes “supporting terrorist
organizations in hostile regimes.”

Critics of the British and American policy toward Iraq said the report
showed how little concrete evidence the two governments actually have
against Iraq, as well as how poor their intelligence sources were.

“Both governments seem so desperate to create a pretext to attack Iraq that
they are willing to say anything,” said Nathaniel Hurd, a consultant on Iraq
and a critic of the American position. “This U.K. dossier, which deceptively
uses outdated material and plagiarizes, is just the latest example of
official dishonesty.”

Opposition politicians here attacked the report as the deceptive work of a
bumbling government clutching at straws as it tries to make a case for war.

“This is the intelligence equivalent of being caught stealing the spoons,”
said Menzies Campbell, the foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal
Democrats. “The dossier may not amount to much, but this is a considerable
embarrassment for a government trying still to make a case for war.”

Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative Party’s shadow defense secretary, said the
government had not satisfactorily addressed the concerns raised by the

“The government’s reaction utterly fails to explain, deny or excuse the
allegations,” Mr. Jenkin said. “The document has been cited by the prime
minister and Colin Powell as the basis for a possible war. Who is
responsible for such an incredible failure of judgment?”


Nathaniel Hurd
NGO Consultant on United Nations Iraq policy
Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389
Fax: 718-504-4224
Residential/Mailing Address:
90 7th Ave.
Apt. #6
Brooklyn, NY  11217

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