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News, 05-12/02/03 (4) BRITISH [... um ...] INTELLIGENCE * Leaked Report Rejects Iraqi al-Qaeda Link * Blair defends al-Qaeda claim * Britain's report on Iraq lifted from published materials * Real authors of Iraq dossier blast Blair * First casualties in the propaganda firefight * The Propaganda War Iraq * Inquiry into the 'tainted' No 10 dossier on Iraq SHOWBIZ SECTION * Online Iraq game hits the button * Ex SAS man fights for tale of raid INSPECTIONS PROCESS * Iraq: Scientist Agrees to U.N. Interview * Iraq's point man on weapons is considered a chemical mastermind * Blix Holds Out Hope for Iraq Cooperation * Blix unhappy with Iraqi list of scientists * Iraq says it will allow inspections by air BRITISH [... um ...] INTELLIGENCE http://commondreams.org/headlines03/0205-10.htm * LEAKED REPORT REJECTS IRAQI AL-QAEDA LINK BBC, 5th February There are no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al-Qaeda network, according to an official British intelligence report seen by BBC News. The classified document, written by defense intelligence staff three weeks ago, says there has been contact between the two in the past. But it assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies. That conclusion flatly contradicts one of the main charges laid against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by the United States and Britain - that he has cultivated contacts with the group blamed for the 11 September attacks. The report emerges even as Washington was calling Saddam a liar for denying, in a television interview with former Labour MP and minister Tony Benn, that he had any links to al-Qaeda. It also comes on the day US Secretary of State Colin Powell goes to the United Nations Security Council to make the case that Iraq has failed to live up to the demands of the world community. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is also ratcheting up the rhetoric in the ongoing crisis over Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, saying the prospect of a peaceful outcome was "diminishing" by the day. He said he could not believe the Iraqi regime would be "this stupid" not to disarm. The defense intelligence staff document, seen by BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan, is classified Top Secret and was sent to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior members of the government. It says al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden views Iraq's ruling Ba'ath party as running contrary to his religion, calling it an "apostate regime". "His aims are in ideological conflict with present day Iraq," it says. Gilligan says that in recent days intelligence sources have told the BBC there is growing disquiet at the way their work is being politicized to support the case for war on Iraq. He said: "This almost unprecedented leak may be a shot across the politicians' bows." Mr Straw insisted that intelligence had shown that the Iraqi regime appeared to be allowing a permissive environment "in which al-Qaeda is able to operate". "Certainly we have some evidence of links between al-Qaeda and various people in Iraq," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program. But he conceded: "What we don't know, and the prime minister and I have made it very clear, is the extent of those links. "What we also know, however, is that the Iraqi regime have been up to their necks in the pursuit of terrorism generally." He added: "The use of force to enforce the will of the UN, now, I'm afraid, is more probable, but it is not inevitable and the choice essentially is one for Saddam Hussein and his regime." [.....] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/2728535.stm * BLAIR DEFENDS AL-QAEDA CLAIM BBC, 5th February UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted there are links between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, but admitted that he did not know how deep these go. Mr Blair sought to defend his previous claims of contact between the two as a British intelligence report, seen by BBC News, indicated that there were "no current links" between them. The classified document, written three weeks ago, says there has been contact between the two in the past, but that the relationship had foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies That conclusion contradicts one of the charges laid against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by the United States and Britain - that he has cultivated contacts with the group blamed for the 11 September attacks. Mr Blair, who will meet UN weapons inspection chief Hans Blix on Thursday, told MPs there were "unquestionably" links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. "But how far the links go is a matter for speculation," he said. Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said the government's case for war against Iraq would "undoubtedly be weakened, if not fatally undermined by talking up links between al Qaeda and Iraq which are not there". But Mr Blair insisted: "It would be unfair to say we have talked up these links. We do not make our case against Saddam and Iraq on the basis of links with al-Qaeda ... "I do not think it's fair to suggest that we are trying to push this in some way as a cover for any lack of argument on weapons of mass destruction. "I believe our case on weapons of mass destruction is very, very clear indeed." Earlier, Downing Street appeared to play down its past assertion that Saddam Hussein's regime was "sheltering" al-Qaeda "operatives". A spokesman said Tony Blair's statements on the issue reflected the advice he's received from the Joint Intelligence Committee, and argued "we've not pushed the envelope out over this - we've been measured". Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also sought to back up Mr Blair's line by insisting that intelligence had shown the Iraqi regime appeared to be allowing a "permissive environment" "in which al-Qaeda is able to operate". The defence intelligence staff's report emerges even as Washington was calling Saddam a liar for denying, in a television interview with former Labour MP and minister Tony Benn, that he had any links to al-Qaeda. It also comes on the day US Secretary of State Colin Powell goes to the United Nations Security Council to make the case that Iraq has failed to live up to the demands of the world community. Mr Straw is also ratcheting up the rhetoric in the ongoing crisis saying the use of force to reinforce the will of the UN to get Saddam to disarm was now "more probable". He said he could not believe the Iraqi regime would be "this stupid" not to disarm. The defence intelligence staff document, seen by BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan, is classified Top Secret, but the prime minister insisted: "I did not see it - it was not part of the reports given to me." The brief says al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden views Iraq's ruling Ba'ath party as running contrary to his religion, calling it an "apostate regime". "His aims are in ideological conflict with present day Iraq," it says. Mr Gilligan says that in recent days intelligence sources have told the BBC there is growing disquiet at the way their work is being politicised to support the case for war on Iraq. He said: "This almost unprecedented leak may be a shot across the politicians' bows." http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1770285 * BRITAIN'S REPORT ON IRAQ LIFTED FROM PUBLISHED MATERIALS by Sarah Lyall Houston Chronicle, from New York Times, 7th February LONDON -- The British government acknowledged Friday that large sections of its most recent report on Iraq, praised by Secretary of State Colin 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 highly 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 Web -- 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 in the government document. Blair's government did not deny that any of this. But its spokesman insisted Friday 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." But critics 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 an article about Iraqi intelligence activities in Kuwait in 1990 and 1991. The article 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. 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 4 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 veracity of anything he had written and believed the government report to be accurate, no one had asked permission or informed him that they planned to use his work. Critics of the British and American policy toward Iraq said the report showed how little concrete evidence the two governments actually have against Iraq. "Both governments seem so desperate to create a pretext to attack Iraq that they are willing to say anything," said Nathaniel Hurd, a consultant for various organizations on the United Nations' relations with Iraq and a critic of the Bush administration's 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." http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12620001&method=full& siteid=50143 * REAL AUTHORS OF IRAQ DOSSIER BLAST BLAIR by Gary Jones And Alexandra Williams In Los Angeles Daily Mirror, 8th February JOURNALIST Sean Boyne and student Ibrahim al-Marashi have attacked Tony Blair for using their reports to call for war against Iraq. Mr Boyne, who works for military magazine Jane's Intelligence Review, said he was shocked his work had been used in the Government's dossier. Articles he wrote in 1997 were plagiarised for a 19-page intelligence document entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation to add weight to the PM's warmongering. He said: "I don't like to think that anything I wrote has been used for an argument for war. I am concerned because I am against the war." The other main source was a thesis by post-graduate student, Ibrahim al-Marashi, the US born son of Iraqis, who lives in California. His research was partly based on documents seized in the 1991 Gulf War. He said: "This is wholesale deception. How can the British public trust the Government if it is up to these sort of tricks? People will treat any other information they publish with a lot of scepticism from now on." After the dossier's origins were revealed, Mr Blair was accused by his own MPs of theft and lies. The fiasco has deeply damaged his attempts to win backing for military action. It emerged the PA to Mr Blair's spin chief Alastair Campbell was involved in drawing up the dossier which was published last month. Alison Blackshaw and a Government press officer were both named on the dossier when it was first put on the Government's website. But the names were later removed. The bulk of the Government's document is directly copied, without acknowledgement, from Ibrahim's 5,000-word thesis - Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network - published last September. He did not even know the dossier existed until Glen Rangwala, a Cambridge-based Iraq analyst, spotted the plagarism and called him. Ibrahim, whose parents fled to the US from Iraq in 1968, said the Government not only blatantly lifted much of his work, including typing and grammatical errors. Mr al-Marashi and Mr Boyne said their figures had been altered in the Government document. Former Labour Defence Minister MP Peter Kilfoyle said: "It just adds to the general impression that what we have been treated to is a farrago of half-truths. "I am shocked that on such thin evidence that we should be trying to convince the British people that this is a war worth fighting." And Labour MP Glenda Jackson said: "It is another example of how the Government is attempting to mislead the country and Parliament. "And of course to mislead is a Parliamentary euphemism for lying." The PM's official spokesman rejected Ms Jackson's claims but admitted it had been a mistake not to acknowledge Mr al-Marashi's thesis in the dossier. He added: "The fact we used some of his work doesn't throw into question the accuracy of the document as a whole. This document is solid." Asked whether Downing Street was embarrassed about the affair, the spokesman said: "We all have lessons to learn." The dossier had been praised by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in his speech to the UN Security Council. Mr Boyne added: "Maybe I should invoice Colin Powell." http://www.observer.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,892145,00.html * FIRST CASUALTIES IN THE PROPAGANDA FIREFIGHT by Gaby Hinsliff, Martin Bright, Peter Beaumont and Ed Vulliamy The Observer, 9th February Late last Tuesday night, a three-page email started circulating among a select group of friends concerned about the impact of sanctions on Iraq. Full of academic outrage, it explained how the so-called 'secret spy dossier' published last week by the Government as a crucial plank in the argument for why the West should go to war was largely cribbed from an American postgraduate's doctoral thesis - grammatical mistakes and all - based on evidence 12 years out of date. And, to cap it all, the finished document appeared to have been cobbled together not by Middle East experts, but by the secretary of Alastair Campbell, the Government's chief spin doctor, and some gofers. It is no surprise, then, that when the email from Glen Rangwala - a 28-year-old Cambridge politics lecturer who stumbled across the plagiarism when he was sent a copy of the dossier by researchers in Sweden - reached two teenage Cambridge students they decided it deserved a wider audience. One, 19-year-old Daniel O'Huiginn, forwarded the email to journalists. In the propaganda wars that are now as crucial as any military build-up in the Gulf, Tony Blair last week fell victim to friendly fire. There has been significant collateral damage - and at the worst possible time. A crucial vote in the UN Security Council is pending. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, praised the document as a 'fine paper' and has been embarrassed by association.The anti-war campaign has been handed a large stick with which to beat the Government. As Downing Street mounts an investigation into how it went wrong, questions are being asked by a public that is still sceptical of the case for war on Iraq. Does this mean that the Government is starved of decent intelligence? If our security services are coming up with good material, why are we not being shown it? If our information is untrustworthy, what about that gathered by the Americans? Who - what - can we believe? The debacle stems from Downing Street's desire to combat charges that the reason why UN inspectors hunting weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had found no 'smoking gun' was because there was nothing to find. Discussions between the Prime Minister's head of strategic communications, Alastair Campbell, his foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, senior officials in MI5 and MI6 and the new head of homeland security, Sir David Omand, resulted in a decision to repeat a wheeze from last autumn: publishing a dossier of 'intelligence-based evidence'. This time it would focus on Saddam's history of deception. But with Hans Blix, the head of the inspection programme, due to make a crucial report to the UN in mid-February, time was short. The publication of the previous dossier, focusing on Saddam's human rights record and making the case that the dictator was a threat to the West, had led to several stand-up rows between Omand and Campbell, with the former accusing the latter of sprinkling too much 'magic dust' over the facts to spice it up for public consumption. In the end, the more sensationalist elements were confined to a foreword written by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, while the facts were left to speak for themselves. But when it came to the most recent document, there was no time for such niceties. Led by Campbell, a team from the Coalition Information Centre - the group set up by Campbell and his American counterpart during the war on the Taliban - began collecting published information that touched on useful themes. The key element was an article by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student from Monterrey in California, which seemed to illustrate some of the key arguments about deception, even though it was based on evidence dating back to 1991. Two further chunks from articles in Jane's Intelligence Review - one written by Sean Boyne, an analyst opposed to war on Iraq - were downloaded straight from a website. Working against the clock with fairly thin material, insiders admit that corners were cut. Marahashi's words were changed to exaggerate their meaning: 'monitoring' foreign embassies became 'spying', while 'opposition groups' was transformed into 'terrorist organisations'. The cut-and-paste job was so incompetent that, in combining al-Marashi's work with Boyne's, it confuses two different organisations. Had it really been written by the four authors credited on the email - Paul Hamill, a Foreign Office official; John Pratt, a junior gofer from Number 10's Strategic Communications Unit; Alison Blackshaw, Campbell's PA; and Mustaza Khan, another official working under Campbell - that might not be surprising. But Campbell himself is said to have edited and cleared the finished version. Downing Street insists that, for all the red faces, nobody - including al-Marashi - has challenged the accuracy of what is in the dossier. Academics disagree. 'The information presented as being an accurate statement of the current state of Iraq's security organisations may not be anything of the sort,' Rangwala's email concluded. And that more damaging accusation reflects a murkier power struggle over the Government's use - some say abuse - of intelligence material in the desperate battle to win support for war. When on Wednesday morning the BBC's Today programme started broadcasting the contents of a classified defence intelligence briefing warning bluntly that there was no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda - there had been contacts in the past but, as a secular state, Iraq was anathema to the fundamentalist terror group -- ears pricked up all over Whitehall. An unprecedented leak, it was immediately interpreted as a warning: if Blair continued to imply, in the teeth of the evidence, that there was some kind of connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda he would not be able to get away with it. It is not that the intelligence services are necessary anti-war. Intelligence sources told The Observer this weekend that the case for war was a good one, but complex. 'People want to be shown something cut and dried,' one source said. 'They want evidence of a big shiny warhead. The real case is... that, after 11 September, the world changed in such a way that we can no longer accept risks to our security. 'Here we are dealing with a rogue regime that is potentially one of the biggest proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. So the question is: do we let that go on and face a real and terrible risk some time down the road, or do we insist that Iraq abides by its commitments to disarm? It is a serious issue... but it is not a great story to sell the British public.' But this is at the very heart of Blair's problem. Faced with a issue that even his intelligence advisers have long known is impossible to dramatise, Number 10 has instead tried to argue its way around opposition to intervention. And journalists, peace activists and the British voters have not been blind to these evasions. Downing Street's efforts to sell the case for war have created a tension with MI6 that has mirrored that between the White House and Pentagon civilian staff and the CIA, DIA and FBI across the Atlantic. There the White House has established a shadow, parallel intelligence network staffed, not by espionage professionals but by favoured political appointees who are providing answers far closer to what the administration want to hear. For months British intelligence officers - like their counterparts in the US - have been insisting that there is no hard evidence of a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda, while at every turn their political masters have been insisting the opposite. They have been briefing that Saddam's weapons programme has been so disrupted it is almost utterly redundant: meanwhile, the politicians have insisted that it is still a threat. But what all do agree on is that Saddam is hiding chemical and biological weapons or the ability to make them. One further issue has proved contentious. While US spy agencies have produced their best material for Powell, in Britain there has been resistance from MI6, which has been unwilling to allow material from human intelligence sources to be used in the propaganda effort. British intelligence officials admit that the cumulative effect of all these issues has been to give the impression of an 'incoherent' argument about Iraq that has appeared to be deeply inconsistent in both detail and focus. This has affected the international stage, too. There are scornful mutterings in French political circles this weekend that they cannot be expected to back a war on Iraq until Britain produces something more compelling than a 'failed doctoral thesis'. Diplomatic sources say French Ministers are now openly 'vitriolic' in their opinions of George Bush. The irony is that it might otherwise have been a successful week in the battle for hearts and minds. Four million Britons switched on to BBC1 on Thursday night to watch Jeremy Paxman grill a shirt-sleeved, earnest Blair over the war, a performance with which his aides were happy. In front of an almost uniformly hostile audience in Newcastle, the only moment of tension came when Paxman asked Blair if, as a religious man, he prayed with Bush. The Prime Minister let his irritation show: he knows the single most damaging charge in the Arab world is that a war would be a Christian crusade against Islam. Even Tony Benn's interview with Saddam, broadcast on Channel Four on Tuesday night, ended almost satisfactorily for Downing Street. Aides watched first with disbelief, then with mounting anger, as Benn put a series of unchallenging questions to the Iraqi dictator. By the end of the interview, the mood had turned to one of wry amusement. The consensus was that Benn, one of the most dangerously popular stars of the anti-war movement, had fumbled the ball badly. Yet all of that has been undermined by a government spin too far. One crumb of comfort is that with Blair's reputation for trustworthiness on the war already dented - a poll last week found that, while 81 per cent of Britons believe UN inspector Hans Blix, only 43 per cent trust Blair to tell the truth over the war and only 22 per cent trust Bush - the dossier debacle is unlikely to make it any worse. 'This is a lot like the way sleaze affected the Tories: after a while it confirms people's distrust. I don't think it creates distrust,' says Peter Kellner, the YouGov pollster and Westminster analyst. And Downing Street will try to get back on track this week, in the run-up to Blix's crucial Friday statement on how far the Iraqis have co-operated with his inspections. Wary of being seen to desert the home front in favour of war, Blair has planned a 'domestic blitz' this week to show that he has not taken his eye off the ball: there will be announcements on choice in health and education, and a visit to Belfast to demonstrate that he has not forgotten the peace process. Similarly the pledge to halve the number of asylum seekers reaching Britain may have horrified many on his own backbenches, but was judged necessary to defuse simmering resentment inflamed both by the war on terror and a vigorous tabloid newspaper campaign against immigration. As for the future of such dossiers, the Whitehall consensus is that it will be a long time before anyone tries that trick again. However, the final shots have not been fired in the propaganda war. 'What we are absolutely determined is that this will not stop us sharing information with the public as and when we think we can,' says one Downing Street source. http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/02/week_2/11_poll.html * THE PROPAGANDA WAR IRAQ by Mark Easton Channel 4 News, 11th February Our new poll, similar to the research being done inside Downing Street, tells us what progress Tony Blair has made in building support for his policy on Iraq We've had 90-days of intense anti-Saddam propaganda since we last carried out our huge survey of British opinion over Iraq. Our new poll, similar to the research being done inside Downing Street, tells us what progress Tony Blair has made in building support for his policy on Iraq, but also what buttons he needs to press to get public backing for a war. Back in November we asked which country people regarded as the greatest threat to world peace. Number one - not surprisingly perhaps - was Iraq. Second the US. Third - Israel. Now, though, Iraq has actually slipped down to third place. Second is North Korea. And the country Britons regard as the biggest threat today - the United States. On this evidence, Tony Blair is losing the Propaganda War. So after endless speeches, dossiers, blurry photos and crackly phone intercepts, how convincing is the case for war? We asked - true or false: Saddam has chemical and biological weapons. 74% the vast majority think that is true. He's hiding weapons from the UN - 71% believe that. Saddam has strong links to Al Qaeda? Only 33% think that's true - 34% say it's false the remainder said they didn't know. Last Wednesday US Secretary of State Colin Powell played America's propaganda trump card at the UN. The Iraqis dismissed it as a stunt. Was Britain convinced? 62% of people did not think his evidence amounted to proof that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. But look at this: 21% of the public - thats one in five - thought his evidence was fabricated. 65% of people think the government's case against Iraq is weakened by Channel Four News revelation that they'd copied chunks of an intelligence dossier from a twelve year old student thesis. Looking now at what I call truth and consequences. What does the public really think is Tony Blair's motivation for possible war against Iraq? Did people think he was driven by a sense of morality and justice or political self-interest? A clear gender split on this question - among men, 41% think his motives are pure, 38% think its self interest. But among women only 30% said it was a moral issue, 46%, almost half are cynical about his motives. In fact women across the survey are more sceptical So what can Tony Blair do? Three months of case building and look what's happened. This was the situation last November - 13% said yes to military action, 9% no, 76% needed persuading. Today - still 70% of people need to be convinced. So would a second UN resolution do the trick? If Tony Blair had UN backing for war instantly his problem would be solved 82% would back military action. Without any UN support only 28% would back an attack alongside the Americans. But here's something very interesting - if Tony Blair got a majority of the Security Council to back military action - even if one or two countries vetoed a second resolution - 62% would go to war. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F02%2F12%2Fnd oss12.xml * INQUIRY INTO THE 'TAINTED' NO 10 DOSSIER ON IRAQ by Andrew Sparrow and George Jones Daily Telegraph, 12th February Downing Street's use of plagiarised academic material in its dossier about Iraq will be investigated as part of an official inquiry announced yesterday into the Government's propaganda machine. The review will cover all aspects of the Government Information and Communications Service, as well as the activities of special advisers who operate as spin doctors. Senior Conservatives protested in the Commons yesterday that the so-called "dodgy dossier" on Iraq had undermined public support for war. Bernard Jenkin, Conservative defence spokesman, said the dossier, released by Downing Street last week which later turned out to be partly copied verbatim from an article written by a postgraduate student, had been a "cackhanded initiative". It had proved "utterly counter productive" and damaged the Prime Minister's personal authority. Peter Lilley, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, said those MPs who had been urging the public to trust the Prime Minister over Iraq felt "betrayed" by the disclosure that the dossier contained material culled from the internet. Adam Ingram, a defence minister, told the Commons that, in retrospect, it would have been better to acknowledge that the dossier was based on the work of a number of sources, not just intelligence material. The Cabinet Office agreed to set up the inquiry in response to a recommendation from the public administration committee and plans for the project were drawn up some weeks ago. Bob Phillis, the inquiry chairman, confirmed yesterday that his team would investigate the discredited Downing Street dossier. The inquiry has been asked to look at "different models for organising and managing the Government's communication effort" and the effectiveness of the way press relations are currently handled under Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's director of communications. Other members of the review team include David Hill, a former Labour Party chief press officer, Howell James, political secretary to John Major when he was Prime Minister, Tom Kelly and Godric Smith, Tony Blair's official spokesmen, journalists and other Government officials. The public administration committee called for an inquiry after investigating the way relations deteriorated between Jo Moore, Stephen Byers's special adviser at the transport department, and the civil servant press officers. The episode contributed to Mr Byers's eventual resignation. The Cabinet Office said yesterday that it would review the civil service code to make it easier for officials to complain about the behaviour of special advisers. SHOWBIZ SECTION http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=internetNews&storyID=2196139 * ONLINE IRAQ GAME HITS THE BUTTON Reuters, 9th February WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Toppling Saddam Hussein is in the war simulation game "Gulf War 2" is the easy part. Coping with what comes next is more difficult. Players assume the role of U.S. President George W. Bush in the online game, receiving regular briefings from caricatures of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. It starts with Baghdad's quick fall but then proceeds to an Iraqi anthrax attack on Israel, a retaliatory nuclear strike, revolt in Saudi Arabia, and a Kurdish coup in northern Iraq. Once Saddam Hussein's body is found, players are asked to select one of three look-alike successors, who soon requires military backing to fend off an anxious Iran. There are also anti-American uprisings in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Pakistan, which lead eventually to nuclear warheads being smuggled to militant groups. "This is a projection of the most likely outcome of a new war in the Gulf," reads the Web site www.idleworm.com, home of the game created in November by 33-year-old Dermot O'Connor. O'Connor, a computer animator who moved from Ireland to California three years ago, drew his source material from interviews and reports in the Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Times, the Guardian and the Australian Sunday Herald. The game appears interactive but leads players down a set path, designed by O'Connor to highlight the risks of war. "There is only one deliberate outcome. It didn't make sense to give people the idea that they could avoid the worst," he said in an interview. About 20,000 people play the game every day, he said. O'Connor said "a constant pressure and drum beat" for war was clouding American perspectives on what could happen after an initial conflict and he felt the "worst case scenario" charted in his game offered an accurate reflection of the potential perils of attacking Iraq. "I don't see how (the Bush administration) can do it without creating a mess," he said. "I just don't see that the war is worth the risks." http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,892245,00.html * EX SAS MAN FIGHTS FOR TALE OF RAID by Tony Geraghty The Guardian, 10th February As the first SAS squadron earmarked for duties in Iraq prepares for action, the disastrous Bravo Two Zero patrol will today return from the first Gulf war to haunt the regiment, and Whitehall. For three days the privy council - the final court of appeal for much of the old Commonwealth - will hear a plea by New Zealander Mike Coburn, one of the survivors of the ill-fated search for Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles in 1991, that he should be allowed to publish his version of the story in a way that enables him to share the profits with the dead soldiers' families and patrol survivors who have not written books. The Ministry of Defence has fought a costly campaign since 1998 to control or suppress Mr Coburn's story, Soldier Five. Having failed in its attempts in the New Zealand courts to silence him, it fell back upon a non-disclosure contract he signed with the MoD, as a result of which he could be liable for damages. Mr Coburn has also been told that he would have to hand over any profits from his book to the British government. Mr Coburn claims that he signed the contract under duress. He also asserts that he wrote his book to put the record straight. He hopes to vindicate the reputation of Sergeant Vince Phillips, who died on the patrol. A former SAS commander said, in evidence before the high court in Auckland, that it was unfair to denigrate Sgt Phillips. Mr Cockburn and, it is said, other survivors of the action, were upset by the portrayal of Sgt Phillips by his critics. In the New Zealand high court, Justice Peter Salmon agreed that the contract was invalid and that the book contained no information that damaged British national security. But the New Zealand appeal court overturned part of Justice Salmon's high court judgment and found that Mr Coburn was in breach of the MoD contract. That decision triggered the appeal to the privy council. After the 1991 operation, Mr Coburn was shot, interrogated and tortured by his Iraqi captors during 48 days of imprisonment. He left the SAS in March 1997, angered by the gagging contract and what he regarded as slanted accounts of the patrol. He claims that he learned that the team's radio appeals for extraction from Iraq after the team was compromised were received at their base, but that the response to their appeals for aid was too slow to save them. Three members of the squad were killed and others captured. Only one man, Chris Ryan, escaped after an epic lone march to Syria. The "eight or nine" significant legal issues for the privy council to consider relate to freedom of expression and the legality of the non-disclosure contracts. These were imposed on veterans from the special forces after a flood of revelatory memoirs, including two books by Lieutenant-General Sir Peter de la Billiere, a former director of special forces and British commander in the last Gulf war. There are many more books where they came from: so many that the regiment now has a staff officer dedicated exclusively to disclosure issues. INSPECTIONS PROCESS http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=540&ncid=716&e=4&u=/ap/2003 0206/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_reaction * IRAQ: SCIENTIST AGREES TO U.N. INTERVIEW Yahoo, 6th February BAGHDAD, Iraq - A senior Iraqi official said Thursday that an Iraqi weapons expert had submitted to a private interview with U.N. arms inspectors, a sign of progress in the deadlock over weapons inspections. Presidential adviser Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi said that an Iraqi expert ‹ the first ‹ had submitted to a private, unmonitored interview with U.N. weapons inspectors. Such private interviews have been a key demand of the inspectors. "One of our scientists is being interviewed alone, as we speak," he told reporters. He gave no details of that interview, and it was not immediately confirmed by U.N. officials. News of the private interview came shortly after the nuclear inspection chief said Iraq had to improve cooperation. "They need to show drastic change in terms of cooperation," said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after talks in London with British leaders. In a lengthy meeting with journalists, al-Saadi analyzed in detail Secretary of State Colin Powell's slide-and-audio presentation Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council, and denounced it for the murkiness of its sources. He said Powell was "quoting 'our sources,' 'our sources,' 'our sources,' without any convincing evidence, as if that in itself is enough to convince the world." Al-Saadi, a chemist who once headed Iraq's advanced weapons programs, took each of Powell's assertions and presented a contrary explanation to what the American secretary told assembled foreign ministers and diplomats in New York. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/2003/02/07/news/world/5125503.htm * IRAQ'S POINT MAN ON WEAPONS IS CONSIDERED A CHEMICAL MASTERMIND by Hamza Hendawi Miami Herald, 7th February BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraqi general whose job Secretary of State Colin Powell says is to deceive U.N. weapons inspectors is a chemist believed to be a driving force behind Iraq's banned weapons programs of the 1980s. Once dismissed from the army for having a foreign wife and not belonging to Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party, Lt. Gen. Amir al-Saadi now has one of Iraq's most high-profile jobs -- point man on the U.N. weapons inspections. Al-Saadi's role is under scrutiny because of U.S. and British charges that Iraq is concealing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in violation of U.N. resolutions following its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. Presenting a case against Iraq before the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Powell spoke of a committee that included Al-Saadi set up by Hussein to "spy" on U.N. inspectors in Iraq and hinder their work. "Saadi's job is not to cooperate, it is to deceive; not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors," Powell said. "Absolute nonsense," al-Saadi countered. The chief U.N. inspectors, Mohamed ElBaradei and Hans Blix, will press al-Saadi and other Iraqi officials for a drastic change in attitude toward complying with disarmament in talks this weekend. But to persuade Hussein, the inspectors will have to first convince al-Saadi. The polished al-Saadi, who is believed to be 62 or 63, first caught Hussein's attention with his scientific and organizational contributions as Iraq expanded its weapons programs to include long-range missiles and chemical weapons. Hussein's confidence in him has endured for years, starting with the tumultuous inspections that began after the war and continuing after those checks resumed in November after a four-year gap. "I am a technocrat and not a person that's in the political hierarchy," al-Saadi told ABC. "I am knowledgeable about past [arms] programs and that's the only reason I am thrust into this." The son of a grain merchant from the town of Al-Omara, al-Saadi is a member of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority who studied chemistry and was educated in Britain and Germany. He says he didn't plan a career in politics, according to friends and relatives living outside Iraq. He was dismissed from the army when the Baath Party came to power in 1968 because he was married to a German and was not a party member. His expertise primarily in chemical weapons, however, later forced the army to take him back. He became a Cabinet minister in the 1990s and was a member of a select group thought to be instrumental in the development of Iraq's banned weapons programs in the 1980s. Widely thought to be the main brain behind the chemical weapons program -- which he says no longer exists -- al-Saadi has never publicly wavered in his statements that Iraq has eliminated its banned weapons programs. At times he speaks philosophically and with fatalism about the enormous task placed on his shoulders. "I am the optimist, I will work until the end," he said. "The end is if they [the U.S.] chose to go the unilateral way and attack Iraq . . . it'll be a sad day for all of you, not just Iraq." http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/feb/09/020900843.html * BLIX HOLDS OUT HOPE FOR IRAQ COOPERATION by Charles J. Hanley Las Vegas Sun, 9th February BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix said Sunday he saw a beginning of Iraqi understanding that it must seriously observe U.N. demands for disarmament and that he believed further U.N. inspections were preferable to a quick U.S.-led military strike. "I perceive a beginning," Blix said after two days of talks in Baghdad. "Breakthrough is a strong word for what we are seeing." But he added: "I would much rather see inspections than some other solution," referring to Washington's threats to launch a military strike. But Blix said he and U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei did not win immediate agreement on using American U-2 surveillance planes to assist with the inspections. The success or failure of the weekend session could help decide the next steps taken by the U.N. Security Council in the months-long standoff that has left the Middle East suspended between war and peace. There was no immediate U.S. response to Blix's comments, but President Bush reiterated that it was time for action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam "wants the world to think that hide-and-seek is a game that we should play. And it's over," Bush told congressional Republicans at a policy conference. "It's a moment of truth for the United Nations. The United Nations gets to decide shortly whether or not it is going to be relevant in terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean anything." Blix said he had received assurances that Iraq would expand a commission to search for weapons and weapons programs and "relevant documents nationwide," and that he had hopes that Iraq was taking the disarmament issue seriously Asked for comment on Bush's declaration last week that the "game is over," Blix replied, "Well, we are still in the game." During the two days of meetings, the Iraqis submitted a number of documents that are still being evaluated. Blix said they related to outstanding issues of anthrax, VX nerve gas and Iraqi missile development. He said those documents would have to be reviewed intensively by U.N. experts in the coming days to determine their value. Blix also said he was hopeful that Iraq would soon enact legislation banning weapons of mass destruction. ElBaradei said Iraq's cooperation must be "simultaneous in all areas" of the inspection process. "We made it clear to Iraq they need to move on the whole file," meaning all types of weapons of mass destruction, he said. ElBaradei said he felt, however, that he and Blix had "good technical meetings" during their two days in Baghdad. "I see all this as a beginning of a change of heart, a new attitude that will be tested. Time is of the essence," he said. On the issue of U-2 flights, Blix said he expected the Iraqis to respond by Friday. The Iraqis have refused to accept U-2 flights unless the United States and Britain suspend air patrols in the "no-fly" zones while the spy plane is aloft. Blix and ElBaradei are to make their next report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday. Their report is expected to be pivotal in determining whether the United States launches military action to disarm Iraq. Meanwhile, U.N. inspectors found another empty chemical rocket warhead at an ammunition depot north of Baghdad. Inspectors have found nearly 20 such warheads during inspections over recent weeks although none have been loaded with chemical agents. As the inspectors pressed for concessions, Iraq's foreign minister traveled to Iran in a surprise diplomatic move. There was no advance notice Naji Sabri's visit to Tehran, a leading opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime that has nonetheless rejected military intervention without U.N. approval. [.....] http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_158727,0005.htm * BLIX UNHAPPY WITH IRAQI LIST OF SCIENTISTS Hindustani Times, 10th February Agence France-Presse: Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said on Sunday he was not satisfied with the list of scientists provided to him by Iraqi authorities. "We mentioned a list of personnel that we would like to hear and we were not satisfied by the list that we have received," Blix told a press conference in Baghdad. "The Iraqi side promised that it would be supplemented. We do not want a list that is endless, we want it to be relevant," Blix said. UN arms inspectors have privately interviewed five Iraqi scientists in the last four days. Baghdad has encouraged scientists to submit themselves to private interviews as part of an Iraqi effort to step up cooperation with UN inspectors and ward off a threatened US-led invasion. UN inspectors had long sought to speak alone with Iraqi scientists who have knowledge of the country's weapons programmes. But until Thursday, no scientist had agreed to meet with inspectors in the absence of a government official, angering Blix who complained of Iraq's failure to cooperate with the disarmament teams. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1773076 * IRAQ SAYS IT WILL ALLOW INSPECTIONS BY AIR by Colum Lynch Houston Chronicle, from Washington Post, 10th February UNITED NATIONS -- Iraq will allow U.N. inspectors to use U.S., French and Russian surveillance aircraft to search the country for evidence of hidden chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohamed al-Douri, said Monday. President Bush, however, brushed aside Iraqi concessions as too little, too late. "This is a man who is trying to stall for time," he said after a meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch U.S. ally against Iraq. "The reason we need to fly U-2 flights is they're not disarming." The announcement came as the United Nations' top weapons inspectors prepare to brief the U.N. Security Council Friday on the extent of Iraq's cooperation. It appeared timed to influence the debate in the 15-nation council, where France, Germany and Russia are seeking support for a proposal to reinforce U.N. inspections to stave off a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Al-Douri said he presented the inspectors Monday with a letter spelling out Iraq's commitment to ensuring that Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries wouldn't fire on the surveillance flights. Douri said the letter also pledges that the Iraqi parliament would pass a new law "in a very short time" making it a crime to participate in any efforts to develop banned weapons. "The letter says Iraq accepts the surveillance by (U.S.) U-2s, (French) Mirages and (Russian) Antonovs," he said. "Iraq will provide the protection from its side." Although the Nov. 8 U.N. resolution requires Iraq to allow reconnaissance flights over the country, Baghdad has refused to guarantee that they will not be shot at unless the United States and Britain suspended their patrols over "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq. President Saddam Hussein, in a statement read on Iraqi state television Monday, urged other governments to call on the United States and Britain to halt air strikes launched as part of their enforcement of the no-fly zones. "If the world, besides America, finds that the U-2 plane is important to carry out more aerial surveillance, it should tell America and Britain not to open fire at us," he said. The United States and Britain maintain that the patrols, which were established after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to protect Iraq's Kurdish and Shiite Muslim populations, only fire in self-defense. On Monday, U.S. and British fighters bombed a site in the southern no-fly zone, and the Iraqi News Agency reported that two civilians were killed and nine others injured. The U.S. Central Command said allied aircraft bombed an Iraqi surface-to-air missile system after Iraqi forces moved it into the restricted southern area. The Bush administration said the Iraqi concessions on surveillance flights were a tactical gesture designed to divide the council and weaken its resolve to compel Baghdad to disarm. "We've been down this road before and unfortunately we know it's a dead end," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk