‘Dodgy Dossier’ haunts Blair

The British government admits there were failings in its second dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

UK Prime Minister Blair is facing
increased criticism that he lied
about Iraq’s WMDs

In a letter to British intelligence, Alastair Campbell, Director of Communications for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said “far greater care would be taken on anything which might impact their reputation or work.”

The second dossier on Iraq, released in February, came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that parts of the dossier were copied from a 12-year-old thesis of an American student.

The segments lifted from the university student’s report also included his typographical errors.

Infamously dubbed the “dodgy dossier” by British media, it failed to identify the sources of some of the information used to back up the case for war on Iraq.

An article published in today’s edition of The Sunday Telegraph reported Mr Campbell wrote a personal letter to Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

The paper claims senior intelligence officers were furious the document had been made up of their own information combined with other sources.

A spokesperson for Blair’s Downing Street office denied that Campbell apologised for embarrassing the security service by “sexing up” the February dossier.

In response to the newspaper’s story, the spokesperson said: “Like many other stories on weapons of mass destruction, this one is totally overblown.”

He said there had been “an error of omission in the dossier, where we should have made the attribution clearer.”

“What did happen in the wake of the controversy surrounding the dossier was that Alastair Campbell spoke to those responsible for its production and demanded a tightening of procedures,” the spokesperson added.
But the admission that Campbell wrote to Dearlove, appears to have fuelled the case for Blair’s opponents who say the Iraq war was illegal and unjustified.

Bush and Blair are both under
pressure to prove Iraq had a
banned weapons programme

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We don’t need an apology from Alastair Campbell – what we need is an independent inquiry into what was going on in Number 10 over the presentation of intelligence reports.”

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the government’s and Prime Minister Blair’s own credibility is on the line, “because nobody believes what he says anymore.”

Mounting pressure

International pressure has been mounting since the end of the war on Iraq for Anglo-American forces to find weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Both US and UK leaders asserted Iraq’s possession of WMDs was the main justification for launching the war on Iraq.

But Anglo-American forces have failed to uncover any weapons of mass destruction since the end of the war. Two mobile laboratories have been discovered, but have not provided any evidence of a banned weapons programme.
In a bid to quell the controversy, Blair last week announced an investigation by the British parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

The CIA has also launched an investigation to see if intelligence reports were distorted to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.