Opposition parties renewed calls for an inquiry into the origins of the Iraq war yesterday as the government published a contentious early draft of the dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons programmes.
So opens Alex Barker's "Renewed calls for Iraq war probe" (Financial Times of London) and we're back to the topic noted yesterday. From Richard Norton-Taylor's "Iraq weapons dossier draft reveals role of 'spin doctor'" (Guardian of London):
A document the Foreign Office tried to suppress shows that John Williams, its director of communications at the time, had access to secret intelligence as he prepared an early draft in 2002.
The document suggests that Williams, a former Sunday Mirror political editor, used the same sources as the Joint Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sir John Scarlett, which produced the government's final dossier. Though there are striking similarities, Williams's draft does not contain the claim that Iraq could launch a chemical warfare weapon in 45 minutes - a claim central to the prime minister's case for war.
The 45-minute claim was made later, and subsequently withdrawn.
The FO fought to suppress the Williams draft. The information tribunal ordered its release, observing that it may have played a bigger role in influencing the dossier than previously supposed.
From Rosa Prince's "Iraq dossier 'based on spin doctors arguments'" (Telegraph of London):
Opposition politicians said the report proved that the case for war had been based on the arguments and rhetoric of spin doctors rather than an impartial analysis by intelligence experts.When the final dossier was published on Sept 24 2002, six months before the start of the war, Tony Blair, then prime minister, said the intelligence services had left him in no doubt that Saddam posed a "serious and current" threat.
He also claimed the dictator was capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of giving the order. Neither allegation was later substantiated by the intelligence services.
Ministers were keen to stress that the dossier had been drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee. But critics last night seized upon the similarities between the draft written by Mr Williams and the final version. Ministers had fought for three years to block publication, saying advice from civil servants should stay confidential.
From Nigel Morris' "Revealed: the first draft of dossier that took Britain to war" (Independent of London):
The first draft made a series of lurid claims about the extent and danger of the Iraqi president's weapons arsenal. But those were expressed in even stronger terms by September 2002, when the official dossier on which Tony Blair based the case for war was published.
Ministers had fought a three-year battle to stop the confidential initial draft from being released, but last month lost an appeal against a ruling that it should be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.
A thing that should stand out as you read the above and other articles "opposition party." In the UK, the party in power is the same party that led the rush to illegal war. In the US, Democrats were given control of both houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections . . . and have done damn little.
In this morning's New York Times, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Huseini offer "5 Iraqis Killed as Rockets Hit U.S. Base in Baghdad:"
Five Iraqi civilians were killed when a barrage of rockets struck the large American military base near Baghdad International Airport and a nearby neighborhood late Monday afternoon, according to American and Iraqi officials.
Though mortar and rocket attacks are still common, the volley was unusually intense. At least 2 American soldiers and 14 Iraqi civilians, including 6 children, were wounded.
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