Blair into Blah doesn’t go: anatomy of a con By William Bowles

16 July 2003

Well will Cheney resign? Who cares. Compare the situation in the US with that in the UK, where exactly the same (faked) information has been doing the rounds for the past couple of years, yet the Blair talk is increasingly blah talk and defiant blah at that. But Tony Blair can protest til the cows come home, it won’t change a thing.

The first bad move
When we unpack what we know about the Niger fabrication on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s instructive to compare the two countries and how the unfolding of a con came about and how it’s being handled.

Sometime in 2001, the faked Niger yellowcake documents surfaced, apparently from Italian intelligence sources, though Mossad have also been mentioned, though the most probable source is the Iraqi National Congress (INC) but who cares where they came from, they were fakes deliberately planted to help justify war.

The fake documents reached both British and US intelligence agencies, who no doubt verified that they were fakes but apparently neglected to tell anyone. The documents sat around, probably until sometime in early-mid 2002 when, at least according to high-ranking US intelligence officials, they came under intense pressure from the Bush administration to include the faked documents in the propaganda campaign. Now whether the intelligence services objected to their use is neither here nor there, internal squabbles are not my concern.

But knowing that sooner or later, their true nature would probably be revealed, it was apparently decided to release them initially through the UK’s September 23 document. This put some distance between Bush and the blah.

Then the same disinformation was included in Bush’s state of the union address January 2003. After all, it had worked in the UK’s September document so why not the US?

Okay, no problem so far, the ‘plan’ is working.

Second bad move
Then in February, the UK issued the so-called dodgy dossier. Bad move! Unlike the September document, this contained a plagiarised copy of a student thesis and was easily checked. Not only that, the UK changed a few key words in the document that made it read very differently from the original. It only took a couple of days for the scam to be revealed. Red faces in the foreign office. But not to worry, the war is still on schedule in spite of the hiccups, the press are not listening.

Then somewhere between March 7 and March 23, the faked Niger docs finally reached the UN’s IAEA, who had been demanding them for several months (without success). For obvious reasons the USUK war machine was very reluctant to hand them over. It only took the IAEA a couple of hours, and definitely no more than a day to verify that they were fakes.

The IAEA announces that the Niger docs are fakes on or around March 23. The press took little notice either of this or the other scam the UK were running as ‘point man’ for Bush, the 45 minute fiasco. Indeed, the IAEA’s report to the Security Council on the total lack of any evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons programme of any kind, came and went with barely a mention in the media. Mere details in the scheme of the things. After all, you don’t move 350,000 soldiers into the war zone without actually using them. By now, things have gone too far. Their blood is up, nothing is going to stop them now.

April, and USUK go to war, though war barely describes the events that followed.

With the ‘ending’ of the war, comes the postmortem and as things haven’t worked according to ‘plan’, the media senses a story and lo and behold, the press suddenly ‘discovers’ that the Niger documents are fakes. Questions are asked. Then comes the BBC’s version of ‘Deep Throat’ and the 45 minutes. More red faces in the foreign office.

Blah, Straw, Reed and other Labour hench people are rolled out, one after the other with an awful lot of bluster and a lot more blah but things go from bad to worse. The more they protest, the more incredulous their denials sound.

Third bad move
So throughout June, the UK government goes into serious damage control mode but to no avail. The bloody fake Niger docs just won’t go away. Even Alistair Campbell’s diversionary tactic of attacking the BBC just digs a deeper hole for the government to climb out of. The Beeb, chastened but not knocked out of the ring, tones down its ‘impartial’ journalism, but to no avail, it’s too late to shut the gate.

July comes round and the long-awaited Commons Liaison Committee on Foreign Affairs deliberates on the events and compounds the problem for the government because, without full access to the documents which supposedly support the government’s rationale for war, they are unable to come to a conclusion. If anything, there are now even more questions than ever. The hole gets deeper.

Straw introduces the idea that their Niger con didn’t rest on the fakes but on the magical appearance of ‘other’ evidence (gets the former UK ambassador to the UN, Greenstock, to back him up) though no one has seen this ‘evidence’ not even their closest ally, the US. More red faces, only now they’re transatlantic ones as well. As the story unravels, we get the bizarre situation of the US and the UK squabbling over who said what and when and what it was based on. Sensing that the game was up, US intelligence sources, just as their UK counterparts had, start trying to put as much distance between themselves and Bush/Blair/blah as they can.

The story finally hits the headlines in the US, largely because the Democratic Party saw an election opportunity and also because it was obvious the ‘war’ was far from over. GIs are dying every day and are another election opportunity for the Dems. CIA chief Tenet agrees to take the rap. Another casualty of war only he doesn’t get shot, or even fired, merely rapped over the knuckles.

The last bad move?
Meanwhile, back in the UK, Straw becomes a straw man in what might well be the last desperate attempt to justify the whole sordid mess, and digs up bits of a rusty centrifuge from some one’s back yard in Baghdad. Another bad move! He didn’t tell us it had been there for 12 years. No comment from the foreign office, except to say that they’re ‘checking their facts’. Hmmm…. But as Straw is clearly not the brightest of fellows (the lights are on but nobody’s home), he actually admits that he knew the Niger docs were fakes in February 2003, a month before the IAEA got hold of them. Naughty, naughty. The fool obviously doesn’t know when to keep his mouth firmly shut.

Not content with this serious boo-boo, the government rolls out some guy called Dr David Kelly, a senior advisor in the MoD in another pathetic diversionary tactic to shift the blame and throw us off the scent. Kelly says that he’s the man who met with the Beeb’s Andrew Gilligan but that he’s not the “main source” of the ‘sexed up’ dossier deal that got Campbell so worked up, but Kelly admits “that in the conversation I had [with Gilligan] there was reinforcement of some of the ideas that he [Gilligan] has put forward.” Eh?

But a statement from the MoD reveals the real reason for throwing Kelly to the (straw) dogs, namely that:

“The committee uses the phrase ‘prime source’. Does that mean that the Foreign Affairs Committee doubts Mr Gilligan’s story. If Dr Kelly is not the source, why does the BBC not say so now?

“The BBC has the opportunity to clear up this issue [the source of Gilligan’s story]. Their silence is suspicious. Their appeal to the principle of source protection is clearly bogus in this case, as Dr Kelly came forward voluntarily.”

And if you believe this, you’ll believe anything the government says. What is the MoD trying to tell us? But it makes no difference, the dogs won’t let go of the bone, not for any reason.

Calls for Cheney’s resignation start to emanate from the US intelligence agencies. Will he too, be tossed to the dogs? Who cares for Christ’s sake! What really counts here is that the lies of the Anglo-Saxon empire have been exposed, and more importantly, they have also exposed just how desperate they have become. Clearly the lights are on the White House as well, but nobody’s home there either.

From the very beginning of this ‘adventure’ in empire (re)building, when it became clear that persuading a very skeptical public would be no cake walk (even if the war would), Blair has changed his tune so many times, he should buy a broadcasting rights license. In the early days, I tried to keep track of the different reasons he gave us for going to war, but after about #5, I gave up counting. Blair who is clearly addicted to war the way a junkie is hooked on crack cocaine, has lied so many times that now he trips over them continuously, compounding one lie on top of another. He has now passed the point of no return as the events of the past few weeks have shown. Is there a way out? Not without revealing all, something he obviously can’t do now, it’s much too late for that. Resign Tony Blah while you still have the chance.

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