31 December 2003

How the British Spy Agency MI6 Secretly Misled A Nation Into War With Iraq

SCOTT RITTER: Well, it's absurd in the extreme. The allegation that I was using MI-6 material. First of all: what allegation that I was using MI-6? In regards to Mass Appeal, the statement of fact that I put forward is that UNSCOM provided data to MI-6, which then MI-6 used in the press. That's no longer unfounded. The British Government has acknowledged this. They have acknowledged the existence of Operation Mass Appeal and its role in, you know, serving as a conduit of propaganda information to the media.

So, I believe that what we're talking about here is that the British Government needs to be careful here, because, remember, there was an inquiry by Lord Hutton into the death of David Kelly, the former British scientist, who tragically took his own life after he was exposed by the British Government as a source of information to the BBC. During this inquiry, MI-6 was called to testify, and MI-6 stated on record that it played no role in shaping public opinion, that all it did was provide, you know, intelligence assessment to the British Government, and that was all its job was: collecting intelligence data and then providing assessments on this data and giving it to the British Government. Now, you know, after being summoned to testify under oath for an official committee, the British Government has to acknowledge that: "No, wait a minute, there was an intelligence operation run by MI-6, which did involve, you know, passing intelligence to media outlets for propaganda purposes." The revelation of Mass Appeal has totally contradicted, you know, sworn testimony of British intelligence services, and this should cause great consternation not only for Lord Hutton and his inquiry, which it appears now they were misled or lied to, but also the British Parliament, which needs to take a closer look, in my opinion, at how public opinion was shaped by the British Government in regards to, you know, alleged threats coming from Iraq in the form of weapons of mass destruction. Let's keep this all in focus, by noting that Tony Blair said that there were massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His government published a dossier which backed up these unfounded allegations.

Now, we are almost ten months into an occupation of Iraq, and no such weaponry has been found. That should be everyone's focus. Where are the weapons? Why did the British Government say these weapons existed before the war, and if the British Government didn't have the data necessary to sustain these allegations, were they lying when they made their assessments or were they simply manipulating the public? This is something that should be looked into. The existence of operations like Mass Appeal run by British intelligence services designed to manipulate public opinion should be examined in great detail.

Witnesses denied anything like Operation Mass Appeal before Lord Hutton and now its existence has been confirmed. We have a documented case of the British intelligence agencies lying about the political preparation for the Iraq war. The whole case for that war was built on intelligence reports by the same agencies.

Both the Blair and Bush governments have devoted a lot of energy to destroying traditional checks and balances. When questioned they have tended to come up only with further passionate avowals to try and make true what is untrue.

W B Yeats said it much better than I ever could:

The best lack all convictions, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

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