Sunday, July 06, 2003

The British goverment is playing musical dossiers, hoping that by admitting mistakes in the second dossiers, this will deflect concerns on the first dossier:

The British Government is to express regret about fundamental flaws in the second dossier it released on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction to justify war.

Whitehall sources said officials would tell a parliamentary inquiry into the issue that the second dossier on Saddam's history of deception undermined public trust in government information.

If the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is questioned on the issue, he will concede that mistakes were made.

Government officials now admit that the second dossier, which was largely culled from a 13-year-old thesis by a Californian PhD student, is damaging the British case for war against Iraq.

The dossier was published last February to coincide with Mr Blair's war summit with President George Bush in Washington. A week later it was revealed to be a mish-mash of intelligence reports, student work and publicly available briefings by Jane's Intelligence Review. The sources were not acknowledged, leaving the impression that it was all based on fresh intelligence.

Officials hope that admitting errors over the second dossier will strengthen their case on the first dossier, published last September, which has been the subject of allegations that it was "sexed up" to make a stronger case for war.

Is this the British goverment rationalizing that by admitting mistakes regarding the second dossier, this may deflect concern regarding the first dossier? How in the world will a flawed second dossier, not lead to questions regarding the first dossier?

The British goverment might as well admit the fox is in the hen house, and it is only a matter of time before the crumbling cases of intelligence on both sides of the Atlantic point to Bush and Blair.

Speaking of foxes in the hen house, consider that the Australian government has dirtied itself by its involvement in this war:

One of the Prime Minister's justifications for war on Iraq was declared unreliable in a United States State Department alert to the Australian Government several months before.

According to a former senior State Department official, CIA claims that the Iraqi regime had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program were strongly challenged by the State Department and the US Department of Energy, and this was made known to the Australian Government.

The assertion by Greg Theilmann came as the US Government was accused of ignoring a report which rejected claims that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger, a premise the President, George Bush, used to invade Iraq.

A former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, said the claims of attempted purchases about three years ago were used by Mr Bush and officials to support their assertions that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program.

"It really comes down to the Administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a fundamental justification for going to war," Mr Wilson told The Washington Post. "It begs the question, what else are they lying about?"

Mr Theilmann, who between 2000 and 2002 analysed all the US intelligence on Iraq and its nuclear ambitions, said these dissenting views would not have been a secret to the Howard Government.

"If the Prime Minister was reaching the conclusion that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program, which in our office was one of the biggest issues of all, well, we saw no evidence."

Australian and US intelligence officials say analysis from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research is passed to Australia through the Office of National Assessments, which assesses intelligence and reports to the Prime Minister.

On February 4, Mr Howard told Parliament that a CIA analysis said Iraq "is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program". He also cited British intelligence that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa and "continues to work on developing nuclear weapons".

Mr Theilmann told the Herald that intelligence material claiming that Iraq was buying aluminium tubes allegedly designedto reprocess uranium using a gas-centrifuge method was rejected.

"We did not buy the CIA interpretation," he said. "We agreed with the Department of Energy, who were the US experts on centrifuge technology, who said that this was not for the nuclear weapons program."

Mr Theilmann's office had also investigated the Niger claims and rejected them in mid-2002. He had been shocked to hear Mr Bush on January 28 citing British intelligence reports claiming that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from an African country.

Based on the content of Mr. Howard's speech cited in the above article, On Feb. 4, is it apparent then that Mr. Howard lied to the parliament, and the Australian people?