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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. tom TIMES NEWS TRACKER Topics Alerts BBC Worldwide Ltd Great Britain Kelly, David BBC Says Arms Expert Who Died Was Source for Contested Report By WARREN HOGE 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. Tom Thomas J. Nagy, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. of Expert Systems George Washington Univeristy Sch. of Business & Public Mgt. Washington, D.C. 20052 home.gwu.edu/~nagy _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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