Hans Blix warned the US-led experts hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yesterday to beware the dangers of 'spin' when presenting their findings to their political masters anxious to justify the invasion of Iraq.
'We don't want another epidemic of spin,' the former chief UN weapons inspector told The Independent, as President George Bush seized on the interim report to justify his decision to go to war.
David Kay, the American- appointed head of the search teams, said in his interim report that in the first three months of his work no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, undermining a plank in the pro-war case.
Mr Bush said: 'The report states that Saddam Hussein's regime had a clandestine network of biological laboratories, a live strain of deadly agent botulinum, sophisticated concealment efforts, and advanced design work on prohibited longer range missiles.'
But Mr Blix pointed out that none of this constituted the 'serious and current threat' used by the British Government to justify war. Although Mr Blix did not accuse Tony Blair of lying, he said the Government 'should have exercised more critical judgment'.
He said: 'There was not a serious or imminent threat. They could have carried on with the policy of containment.'
This gets sillier and sillier by the hour. The war party has lived off the missing WMDs for months. Now that they have found none they've revived the ancient furphy that the weapons were moved to another country.
Now a cynic might think that holding a succession of 9-month inspections in a succession of invaded Middle Eastern countries is a tad excessive. Before we launch that expensive and time-consuming exercise, let's ask a simpler question.
Are there any claims by the war party which can be tested against known and existing facts? If there are such issues do they tend to show the war party as truthful or untruthful?
Did Iraq seek uranium from Niger or did it not? Did Rumsfeld claim to know the location of WMDs 'around Tikrit and Baghdad' or did he not? Was the 45-minute claim sexed up or was it not? Did Bush claim the trailers of mass destruction were WMDs or did he not?
But we can test further. We can ask if any single factual error, out of the legion of factual errors, tended to weaken the case for war?
The answers are easy. No contested factual claim by the war party has proved accurate. No disproved claim has ever tended to weaken the case for war. These guys are spinning so fast the planet will start falling apart if they're not stopped soon.
Oh, and by the way, botulinium occurs naturally in almost all soil. As Kay himself says, according to the The Age:
Kay, in a briefing later with reporters, said the Iraqi scientist who had the vial had been given it for safekeeping at his home by another, senior scientist, in 1993. He initially had other samples, most of which he quickly returned.
"He was storing them in his refrigerator," Kay said. "He had small children."
Although tests showed that the one vial of bacteria that the scientist kept was still viable, Kay offered no evidence it had been used in a weapons program during the last decade.
Bush has advisers on science issues. If he'd asked they could have told him about the lethality of the stuff. Even today, within 24 hours of his WMD sham being exposed, he's manufacturing more half-truths out of whole lies to try and make the whole shambling story live another day.