9 July 2003

The US government has admitted the Niger claim was untrue. The Australian government agrees that it was untrue and has fallen back on a combination of the Sgt Schultz defence and desperate cries about moving on.

The waters are muddier in Britain. According to Blair the Niger claim is true and is based on separate evidence from the forged Nigerien letter. So the hunt is on. Any such intelligence must, as a matter of law, be passed to the IAEA. Our scene turns to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. From the Independent:

Sir John Stanley, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, said: "We are talking about fresh intelligence which came to your Government and which underpinned putting into the September 2002 dossier the detailed statements that were made in emphatic terms about uranium supplies to [sic] Africa. That intelligence was under the obligation of your Government to pass on to the IAEA. When was it done?"

William Ehrman, the Foreign Office's director general of Defence and Intelligence, accompanying Mr Straw, replied: "The intelligence came from a foreign service, and it was briefed to the IAEA in 2003." Sir John asked: "What date in 2003?" Mr Ehrman responded: "I would have to check."

Mr Straw was also asked when Britain first learned that the US-supplied documents to the IAEA were forgeries. He replied: "We will find out." However, there has been no further information to the committee.

A senior diplomatic source close to the IAEA said yesterday: "The only information we received was from the US, and this included documents which turned out to be forgeries. This was sent to us in February.

"We certainly have not received anything from Britain, and we have not received anything from a third country.

"It did not take long to uncover the forged documentation. We did a Google search and discovered that someone named as a minister in the Niger government has stopped being so years ago. A lot of it was pretty crude - a cut and paste job."

The Blair contention then, is that they published the unreliable Niger intelligence in the September dossier to explain and justify the need for the war but did not publish the more reliable evidence that would have proved their case? Is this claim to be taken seriously? Where is the separate evidence? The US does not have it. The IAEA does not have it. Australia may have it, but we're not telling.

And why did that incompetent Alastair Campbell leave this devastating evidence out of the September dossier? Why did Blair allow Bush to embarrass himself in the US Congress by withholding the devastating evidence from his closest ally? Or is it just that the devastating evidence does not actually exist?

No comments: