A Fake Document Read Out in UNO
Fake intelligence as well as plagiarized quotations had been slipped into an official intelligence report pertaining to Iraq’s WMD presented to the UN Security Council by Secretary of State Colin Powell on February 5, 2003. This was the report used by the Bush Administration to justify the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
I would call my colleagues’ attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed . . . which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.” (Colin Powell, UN Security Council, February 5, 2003)
Powell was referring to “Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation,” published on 30 January 2003.“Powerful and Irrefutable Evidence Presented by Secretary of State Colin Powell,” said the Washington Post (6 February 2003):
After Secretaryof State, Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Powell left no room to argue seriously that Iraq has accepted the Security Council’s offer of a “final opportunity” to disarm. And he offered a powerful new case that Saddam Hussein’s regime is cooperating with a branch of the al Qaeda organization that is trying to acquire chemical weapons and stage attacks in Europe. Mr. Powell’s evidence, including satellite photographs, audio recordings and reports from detainees and other informants, was overwhelming. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called it “powerful and irrefutable.” Revealing those tapes and photographs had a cost, as Iraq will surely take countermeasures. But the decision to make so much evidence public will prove invaluable if it sways public opinion here and abroad. At a minimum, it will stand as a worthy last effort to engage the United Nations in facing a threat that the United States could, if necessary, address alone or with an ad-hoc coalition. [The WP is explicitly pointing to the outcome ahead of the actual bombing and invasion of Iraq, “address alone or with an ad hoc coalition” with the U.K.]
According to Rangwala, the British intelligence document was fake. It had not been prepared by British intelligence. It was copied and pasted from the internet by members of Tony Blair’s staff. The Downing Street authors state they drew “upon a number of sources, including intelligence material” (p.1, first sentence). In fact, they copied material from at least three different authors and gave no credit to them. Indeed, they plagiarized, directly cutting and pasting or near quoting.
A close textual analysis suggests that the UK authors had little access to first-hand intelligence sources and instead based their work on academic papers, which they selectively distorted. Some of the papers used were considerably out of date. This leads the reader to wonder about the reliability and veracity of the Downing Street document.
It was a fake document prepared on the instructions of Prime Minister Blair with a view to building a “credible” justification to wage war on Iraq. And the media failed to report the Big Lie.