Friday, February 7
UK war dossier a sham, say experts
British 'intelligence' lifted from academic articles
Michael White and Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, February 7, 2003
Downing Street was last night plunged into acute international embarrassment after it emerged that large parts of the British government's latest dossier on Iraq - allegedly based on "intelligence material" - were taken from published academic articles, some of them several years old.
Amid charges of "scandalous" plagiarism on the night when Tony Blair attempted to rally support for the US-led campaign against Saddam Hussein, Whitehall's dismay was compounded by the knowledge that the disputed document was singled out for praise by the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, in his speech to the UN security council on Wednesday. [...]
But on Channel 4 News last night it was revealed that four of the report's 19 pages had been copied - with only minor editing and a few insertions - from the internet version of an article by Ibrahim al-Marashi which appeared in the Middle East Review of International Affairs last September [...]
What Whitehall may not grasp is the horror with which unacknowledged borrowing of material - the crime of plagiarism - is regarded in American academic and media circles, [...]But Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University, told Channel 4: "I found it quite startling when I realised that I'd read most of it before."
The content of six more pages relies heavily on articles by Sean Boyne and Ken Gause that appeared in Jane's Intelligence Review in 1997 and last November. None of these sources is acknowledged.
The document, as posted on Downing Street's website at the end of January, also acci dentally named four Whitehall officials who had worked on it: P Hamill, J Pratt, A Blackshaw and M Khan. It was reposted on February 3 with the first three names deleted.
"Apart from passing this off as the work of its intelligence services," Dr Rangwala said, "it indicates that the UK really does not have any independent sources of information on Iraq's internal policies. It just draws upon publicly available data."
Evidence of an electronic cut-and-paste operation by Whitehall officials can be found in the way the dossier preserves textual quirks from its original sources. One sentence in Dr Marashi's article includes a misplaced comma in referring to Iraq's head of military intelligence during the 1991 Gulf war. The same sentence in Downing Street's report contains the same misplaced comma.
A Downing Street spokesman declined to say why the report's public sources had not been acknowledged.[...]