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Thursday, June 05, 2003

On Veracity and WMD's

Maybe some of Margy's ethnographic reflections would have helped out a bit in the intelligence work!

Oral sources are credible but with a different kind of credibility. The importance of oral testimony may lie not in its adherence to fact, but rather in its departure from it, as imagination, symbolism and desire emerge. Therefore there are no ‘false’ oral sources.’ Portelli (1991: 51) . For Portelli, it is not what is true which is important, as much as what people believe to be true.

A senior Iraqi officer on active service within the country's military provided British intelligence last August with the information that Iraq could fire chemical or biological warheads within 45 minutes of Saddam Hussein giving the order, according to senior Whitehall officials.

The claim, contained in the government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, has become the chief test of whether ministers "duped" the British public over the need for war. Whitehall officials in two departments said last night the evidence of the 45-minute capability had come from a serving Iraqi officer with a record for providing reliable data over years. The information was analysed by Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee and immediately distributed to some cabinet ministers at the end of August, a few weeks before the compilation of the government's WMD dossier. There have been assertions that intelligence about the Iraqi capability had come via the US from an "unreliable" source, a Iraqi defector with contacts with the Iraqi opposition movement.The new revelation came as Tony Blair denied claims that Downing Street had "doctored" the dossier, published last September, saying the allegation was "completely and totally untrue".
Source: Financial Times

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