Fisk: The dishonesty of this so-called dossier

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 22:01:39 +0100

"If these pages of trickery are based on 'probably' and 'if', we have no
business going to war"

Tony Blair's "dossier" on Iraq is a shocking document. Reading it can
only fill a decent human being with shame and outrage. Its pages are
final proof – if the contents are true – that a massive crime against
humanity has been committed in Iraq. For if the details of Saddam's
building of weapons of mass destruction are correct – and I will come to
the "ifs" and "buts" and "coulds" later – it means that our massive,
obstructive, brutal policy of UN sanctions has totally failed. In other
words, half a million Iraqi children were killed by us – for nothing.

Let's go back to 12 May 1996. Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of
State, had told us that sanctions worked and prevented Saddam from
rebuilding weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Our Tory government
agreed, and Tony Blair faithfully toed the line. But on 12 May, Mrs
Albright appeared on CBS television. Leslie Stahl, the interviewer,
asked: "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean,
that's more than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth
it?" To the world's astonishment, Mrs Albright replied: "I think this is
a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."

Now we know – if Mr Blair is telling us the truth – that the price was
not worth it. The price was paid in the lives of hundreds of thousands
of children. But it wasn't worth a dime. The Blair "dossier" tells us
that, despite sanctions, Saddam was able to go on building weapons of
mass destruction. All that nonsense about dual-use technology, the ban
on children's pencils – because lead could have a military use – and our
refusal to allow Iraq to import equipment to restore the water-treatment
plants that we bombed in the Gulf War, was a sham.

This terrible conclusion is the only moral one to be drawn from the 16
pages that supposedly detail the chemical, biological and nuclear
horrors that the Beast of Baghdad has in store for us. It's difficult,
reading the full report, to know whether to laugh or cry. The degree of
deceit and duplicity in its production speaks of the trickery that
informs the Blair government and its treatment of MPs.

There are a few titbits that ring true. The new ammonium perchlorate
plant illegally supplied by an Indian company – which breached those
wonderful UN sanctions, of course – is a frightening little detail. So
is the new rocket test stand at the al-Rafah plant. But this material is
so swamped in trickery and knavery that its inclusion becomes worthless.
Here is one example of the dishonesty of this "dossier". On page 45, we
are told – in a long chapter about Saddam's human rights abuses – that
"on March 1st, 1991, in the wake of the Gulf War, riots (sic) broke out
in the southern city of Basra, spreading quickly to other cities in
Shia-dominated southern Iraq. The regime responded by killing
thousands". What's wrong with this paragraph is the lie is in the use of
the word "riots". These were not riots. They were part of a mass
rebellion specifically called for by President Bush Jnr's father and by
a CIA radio station in Saudi Arabia. The Shia Muslims of Iraq obeyed Mr
Bush Snr's appeal. And were then left to their fate by the Americans and
British, who they had been given every reason to believe would come to
their help. No wonder they died in their thousands. But that's not what
the Blair "dossier" tells us.

And anyone reading the weasel words of doubt that are insinuated
throughout this text can only have profound concern about the basis for
which Britain is to go to war. The Iraqi weapon programme "is almost
certainly" seeking to enrich uranium. It "appears" that Iraq is
attempting to acquire a magnet production line. There is evidence that
Iraq has tried to acquire specialised aluminium tubes (used in the
enrichment of uranium) but "there is no definitive intelligence" that it
is destined for a nuclear programme. "If" Iraq obtained fissile
material, Iraq could produce nuclear weapons in one or two years. It is
"difficult to judge" whether al-Hussein missiles could be available for
use. Efforts to regenerate the Iraqi missile programme "probably" began
in 1995. And so the "dossier" goes on.

Now maybe Saddam has restarted his WMD programme. Let's all say it out
loud, 20 times: Saddam is a brutal, wicked tyrant. But are "almost
certainly", "appears", "probably" and "if" really the rallying call to
send our grenadiers off to the deserts of Kut-al-Amara?

There is high praise for UN weapons inspectors. And there is more
trickery in the relevant chapter. It quotes Dr Hans Blix, the executive
chairman of the UN inspection commission, as saying that in the absence
of (post-1998) inspections, it is impossible to verify Iraqi disarmament
compliance. But on 18 August this year, the very same Dr Blix told
Associated Press that he couldn't say with certainty that Baghdad
possessed WMDs. This quotation is excised from the Blair "dossier", of

So there it is. If these pages of trickery are based on "probably" and
"if", we have no business going to war. If they are all true, we
murdered half a million Iraqi children. How's that for a war crime? 

Source: The Independent

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