Sunday, August 24, 2003

It's official - Saddam was not an imminent threat .

"There is an unfortunate tendency among some commentators to seek to narrow the issue to a blame game between the BBC and 10 Downing Street. This has led to comment to the effect that Dr Kelly was the unfortunate victim of a battle between two mighty institutions, accompanied by a campaign of vilification against Andrew Gilligan and the Today programme. It is important to remain constantly aware of the vested interests at play: the Murdoch empire and other rightwing media operations would like to weaken and break the BBC so that British broadcasting might be reduced to the sort of commercially dominated, biased news reporting that controls the US airwaves. It is extremely unfortunate that a Labour government has been willing to drive forward this campaign against the BBC. --

The inquiry has already established beyond doubt that, despite government briefing that Dr Kelly was a medium-level official of little significance, he was in fact one of the world's leading experts on WMD in Iraq. It is also clear that Dr Kelly chose to brief three BBC journalists - and presumably others - to the effect that the 45-minute warning of the possible use of WMD was an exaggeration. He said to the Newsnight reporter Susan Watts, as well as to Gilligan that Campbell and the Downing Street press operation were responsible for exerting pressure to hype up the danger. The inquiry is exploring the reality of that claim. But it is already clear that Dr Kelly made it, to Gilligan and Watts.

The BBC would have been grossly irresponsible if it had failed to bring such a report - from such an eminent source - to public attention. It is a delicious irony that Alastair Campbell castigates the BBC for relying on one very eminent source for this report ... and yet the 45-minute claim itself came from only one source."

And this from The Sunday Herald: Campbell did redraft Iraq dossier.

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