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[casi] What we are up against in the US--the nyt spinn on bbc-kelly

Dear Colleagues,

 From the dear old NYT w/ all the news that fits the gov-bus-military complex

 Well, hopefully, if I get kicked off the CASI listserv it won't be for
sending this item.



  Topics Alerts

  BBC Worldwide Ltd

 Great Britain

 Kelly, David

BBC Says Arms Expert Who Died Was Source for Contested Report

ONDON, July 20  The BBC confirmed today that Dr. David Kelly, the British
weapons expert who committed suicide on Thursday, was the source for a story
on doctoring intelligence files that led to a highly publicized running battle
between the broadcaster and the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The announcement by the BBC's director of news, Richard Sambrook, cast doubt
on the network's credibility since Dr. Kelly told a parliamentary committee
two days before his death that he did not provide the report's central
contention: that the government had "sexed up" a government intelligence
dossier by inserting an unauthorized claim that Saddam Hussein had chemical
and biological weapons deployable in 45 minutes.

The announcement also undermined the authority of the hotly contested report
since Dr. Kelly, 59, a former United Nations weapons inspector and adviser to
the ministry of defense, was not a senior intelligence official involved in
preparing the dossier as the network had called its anonymous source.

The original report, aired on May 29, was particularly damaging to the
government which is fighting charges that it manipulated intelligence
information to justify an unpopular war.

Officials vehemently denied the report, pressed the network for its source and
repeatedly demanded a retraction and an apology. The BBC said it stood behind
the story and demanded its own apology for the government's assertion that the
broadcaster's news programming followed "an agenda against the war."

Dr. Kelly unwittingly became involved in the dispute after telling his defense
ministry managers that he had met with the BBC correspondent a week before the
report was broadcast. His name was then leaked to newspapers, and he was
hauled before the House foreign affairs committee, which last Tuesday
subjected him to a round of bruising questions and name-calling.

His family and friends have speculated that the bullying treatment had
overwhelmed the scientist, a soft-spoken man accustomed to working behind the
scenes. The police found his body on Friday in a wooded area five miles from
his Oxfordshire home, his left wrist slashed and a partly empty package of
painkillers nearby.

The suicide has confronted Mr. Blair with a government crisis, and he has
called for an immediate judicial inquiry. He said today in Korea, where he is
on a Far East tour, that he would testify.

For the BBC, the publicly financed network that sees itself as the world
leader in balanced broadcast reporting and analysis, the highly charged case
comes at a time when the corporation is under attack from critics who say it
has not been impartial in its coverage of the war in Iraq and the conflict in
the Middle East.

In addition to its ongoing fight with the government at home, it is derided by
conservative commentators in the United States as "the Baghdad Broadcasting
Corporation," and in Israel its correspondents have been officially shunned by
the government of Ariel Sharon.

In an appearance before a committee of Parliament last week to discuss its
annual report  a session normally devoted to financial projections and
performance assessments  BBC chiefs faced charges of partiality. One Labor
member of the panel, Rosemary McKenna, said the network had ceased to
"differentiate between straightforward news and editorial comment."

Gavyn Davies, the corporation's chairman, said that he was disturbed by the
spate of accusations, and he assured the parliamentarians, "We are going to
look further at whether we can insure audience perceptions of impartiality,
something we already do, but we want to do more."

Mr. Davies conceded that there were "some individual errors along the way,"
but he said that research showed the BBC to be the most trusted information
source in Britain.

BBC audience figures in the United States are rising, but BBC news
correspondents are more aggressive and contrarian in their interviewing
techniques than their American counterparts, and this can leave them open to
charges of taking sides by people accustomed to a less hectoring approach to
public figures and policy claims.

BBC officials have responded to the criticism about their war coverage by
saying that they are appealing to an international audience that demands a
perspective from both sides. Many of their viewers, they say, are in European
and Muslim countries where the war doesn't enjoy the support it did in the
United States, and they fault American networks for a flag waving approach
that excludes that audience.

Israel took its action against the BBC after it aired a documentary this
spring about the secretiveness of the country's nuclear program. "It was a
propaganda film of the very lowest level with a minimum of journalistic ethics
or standards," said Gideon Meir, the Israeli foreign affairs ministry deputy
director general for media and public affairs. "It was a clear attempt to show
Israel as belonging to the world of dark dictatorships."

Interviewed by telephone from Jerusalem, Mr. Meir said that the program was
the "final straw in a campaign the BBC has been waging for the past three
years bashing Israel and its government." As a result, he said, "We are not
cooperating with the BBC, we don't give them any talking heads, we don't brief
them and we don't invite them to press conferences."

The Israelis brought their attitude with them to the corporation's
headquarters city last week. When the visiting prime minister, Ariel Sharon,
held a press breakfast in London, the BBC was barred from attending.

Thomas J. Nagy, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of Expert Systems
George Washington Univeristy Sch. of Business & Public Mgt.
Washington, D.C. 20052

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