Finger-Pointing and Stonewalling on Prewar Intelligence

Bush and Blair
U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair give a joint press conference in Washington on July 17 (Photo: Stephen Jaffe/AFP-Getty Images).

Paris Jeune Afrique l’intelligent (independent newsmagazine), June 29-July 5: They [the Americans] have pressured with the carrot and the stick, threatened scientists with terrible things, promised new identities for them and their families outside Iraq. Nothing has happened. In each case, the answer is the same: Yes, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but they were massively destroyed a long time ago.
—René Guyonnet

Manila Today (independent), June 26: No one knows when the full extent of such premeditated lying—in varying shades, sometimes by omission, by subtle addition or outright exaggeration, by out-of-context misrepresentation, but lying just the same—will ever see the light.

Sydney Sydney Morning Herald (centrist), July 9: Criticism—especially of Mr. Blair’s use of material to claim that the Iraqi threat of chemical and biological weapons was both “serious and current”—hangs in the air....Does [the British government] still consider true, for example, what was said about Iraq’s ballistic missile program generally and the retention of up to 20 al-Hussein missiles, similar to the SCUD, in particular....No al-Hussein was found before the war, or since, and none was fired during it. Other parts of the [U.K.] dossier requiring re-evaluation include the claim that Iraq could mobilize WMDs within 45 minutes.

Beijing Shijie Xinwen (biweekly of China Radio International), July 3: The BBC revealed that before the Iraq war Blair compelled the intelligence organ to add the false information—“the Iraqi military forces can use biochemical weapons within 45 minutes after receiving the order”—into its report. [Alistair] Campbell of the Blair government condemned the BBC for its untrue reporting and demanded an apology. The BBC refused and decided to carry out the struggle to the end. Apparently, neither Blair nor the BBC can afford to lose the debate.
—Niu Daobin

Budapest Nepszabadsag (liberal), July 9: The Blair government’s fight with the BBC has to do with many things, but not with the issue that has occupied international public opinion since the liberation of Iraq: Where have Saddam’s weapons gone? Did Bush and Blair really knowingly mislead public opinion? Did they make intelligence information more “sexy” in order to gain necessary public support?
—Laszlo Seres

Karachi Daily Jang (pro-government), July 10: British agencies accept the reports of the American CIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies blindly and give their reports mainly based on this information....In the next stage the U.S.A. uses these British reports as the validation of the reports of its own agencies and the same are forwarded to other allies who accept these as true and valid....Generally, the mischief of the game remains out of the sight of people at large but sometimes the false structure caves in, exposes the reality, and shocks the people, as is happening in the case of the game being played in Iraq, both by the United States and Britain.

Mexico City La Jornada (left-wing), July 10: The credibility of the two governments has now seriously deteriorated. Fifty-four percent of the British say they lack confidence in their prime minister, and the popular approval index for Bush has dropped from 74 percent, when military operations in Iraq began..., to 60 percent, and continues to drop....I hope these changes in opinion will spell the beginning of the end for two politicians who have caused so much damage to world peace and stability.

Havana Juventud Rebelde (Communist youth union), July 11: Fifteen weeks after the “liberators” entered the Iraqi capital, one small detail has created a big headache for British Prime Minister Tony Blair: the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein could supposedly use to wipe Great Britain off the map in only 45 minutes—leitmotif for the latest crusade—are still nowhere to be found.... Clearly these are not good times for Mr. Blair. The timing couldn’t be better for his conservative rivals, who, having given their support en masse for the invasion, are now taking aim at Mr. Blair in Parliament and demanding to “see the books” on Saddam’s missing arsenal.

Glasgow Sunday Herald (independent), July 6: The reality is that we do not know exactly how the case against Saddam was precisely prepared, nor how, or if, it was politically spun. Why don’t we know? Simply put, the government feels it need not tell us....We are embroiled in a long armed struggle with disturbing parallels to British involvement in Northern Ireland and yet none of the lessons learned in that battle-scarred province seem to have influenced our actions in Iraq.