Too sexy

by John Quiggin on January 29, 2004

The Economist runs a piece endorsing the Hutton inquiry’s rejection of BBC claims that the Blair government’s dossier on Iraqi weapons was “sexed up”, but runs it under the headline George Bush and Tony Blair exaggerated, but they did not lie.

What, precisely, is the difference between “exaggerated” and “sexed up” ?

{ 45 comments }

1

Anne C. 01.29.04 at 10:32 pm

The difference is intent. Gilligan was charging that Blair included a piece of intelligence he knew to be untrue.

2

Bob 01.29.04 at 10:41 pm

Whatever the excuses, flannel or spin now, evidence to the Hutton inquiry clearly showed that all the caveats and qualifications about Iraq’s WMD in the early drafts of the September 2002 dossier were steadily whittled away at the insistence of Downing St.

Combined with the infamous “45 minute claim”, signed out by Blair personally, the end result was to make the threat of WMD appear more imminent and substantive than the threat turned out to be. No WMD have been found in Iraq after months of searching. The chief of the American search team has just resigned saying he doesn’t believe there were any.

We also know now that British troops were sent out to the Gulf without effective equipment and protection to withstand an attack by WMD. Either Blair knew that there was no serious threat or he didn’t bother to find out whether the troops were properly protected against the threat, which he was trailing as the justification for the war, or he just didn’t care.

Which is it? We need to know. That is why we should have an inquiry as to the justification for the war and the preparations. We owe that to the troops and out of respect for the thousands of Iraqi civilians who were killed in the course of their liberation.

Why is Blair blocking an inquiry? Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

3

John Q 01.29.04 at 10:47 pm

Anne, if Gilligan meant to accuse Blair of lying rather than exaggeration, why didn’t he use one of the many synonyms for “lying” available in our language.

4

Anne C. 01.29.04 at 10:55 pm

Well, I assume he was going for a certain shade of meaning. Hutton’s interpretation, I gather, is that “sexed up” was ambiguous, but implied something improper, even monstrous.

The point is that even if Gilligan meant it in the sense of “exaggeration,” he was implying that Blair was exaggerating on purpose, which shades into lying, or deliberately misleading the public.

There can, however, be an intelligence failure that Blair passes on unknowingly. Even if it turns out to be an exaggeration (as it’s looking to be), there is a difference of intent.

5

Brian Weatherson 01.29.04 at 11:19 pm

I’d just like to note that this is yet more proof of liberal media bias. Only a liberal media biased journal would ever use a synonym for ‘sexed up’ in saying the report was not ‘sexed up’. I guess we now have to live with 27 million even the liberal Economist posts.

6

Rob 01.29.04 at 11:37 pm

People you agree with exaggerate. People you disagree with lie.

7

Anne C. 01.29.04 at 11:47 pm

David Kay in his testimony before Congress yesterday gave a plausible explanation for the tendency to exaggerate intelligence with regard to Iraq. Given that Iraq had lied many times before, and even questionable Iraqi dissident information had turned out to be true, there was as a result an institutional bias favoring evidence of weapons.

The Iraqis were, as it happened, also lying about the programs they still had running, even if they were telling the truth about stockpiles. They therefore confirmed an impression of deceit, through such actions as not allowing interviews with scientists.

You don’t have to invent sinister reasons to account for the intelligence failure, and systematic tendency to see the WMD threat as credible.

8

John Quiggin 01.30.04 at 12:03 am

Here’s the penultimate para of the Economist article, which pretty clearly imputes deliberate exaggeration

Still, the politicians are not off the hook. Did president and prime minister, sincerely believing their central claim against Iraq, allow their conviction to distort the evidence they put before their people? It looks that way. Mr Bush conjured up a link between Iraq, al-Qaeda and September 11th that probably did not exist. He created an impression of a threat to the American homeland that the intelligence does not seem to justify. And when tabloid newspapers read Britain’s dossier to mean that Britons themselves could come under chemical attack within 45 minutes, Mr Blair did not trouble to put them right.

9

Bob 01.30.04 at 12:03 am

This editorial from the American press seems a fair summary of the situation in the lead-up to the Iraq war. With the close collaboration between the American administration and the British government at the time, it is highly likely that intelligence assessments and perspectives very largely converged: http://fairuse.1accesshost.com/news1/star-trib4.html

This is what the British public think of the Hutton Report in the news:

“Almost half of the public thinks the Hutton report was a ‘whitewash’ and that it is unfair the BBC has to shoulder all the blame for the death of David Kelly, according to a poll by the London Evening Standard.

“The first major survey of the British people’s reaction to Lord Hutton’s verdict has uncovered widespread scepticism, with 56% of people saying the judge had been unfair to heap most of the blame on the corporation.

“Exactly half of those questioned on the Hutton report by pollsters NOP for the Evening Standard said they found its conclusions unconvincing, while 49% said it was a whitewash.

“A separate poll carried out by Sky News provided even more dramatic figures, with 67% saying no to the question ‘Has the Hutton inquiry got to the truth?’. . .” – from:
http://media.guardian.co.uk/huttoninquiry/story/0,13812,1134265,00.html

10

Mary Kay 01.30.04 at 12:15 am

I exaggerate. You sex things up. He lies.

MKK

11

daz 01.30.04 at 12:28 am

Anne,

Interviews were permitted and conducted.

Bilx report Jan 2003: “The presentation of a list of persons who can be interviewed about the actions appears useful and pertains to cooperation on substance.”

Feb: “The Iraqi side confirmed the commitment which it had made to us on the 23rd January to encourage persons asked to accept such interviews whether in or out of Iraq. ”

March: “Nevertheless, despite remaining shortcomings, interviews are useful. Since we started requesting interviews, 38 individuals were asked for private interviews, of which 10 accepted under our terms — seven of these during the last week.”

Are you able to give us more information about Iraq’s lies and the dissidents’ information that proved true since the late 90s?

regards

d

12

Conrad Barwa 01.30.04 at 12:38 am

What, precisely, is the difference between “exaggerated” and “sexed up” ?

The credible difference I can think of, is really just one of degree; this is a bit weak and relies on the kind of attention to language that is so beloved of lawyers eager to win their case. Going out on a date, one could perhaps say that choosing a particular outfit over another in order to take advantage of some attractive physical attribute can be said to be a form of ‘exaggeration’ while ‘sexing up’ would involve a more wholesale and drastic sort of change. The problem with this sort of ‘wink-wink, nudge-nudge, knee-in-the-groin’ sort of ordinal scale; is that different people’s estimation of where exaggeration turns into something else are bound to be vary and remain notoriously imprecise. Which is kind of why I am surprised to hear the Economist come out and say it.

13

anon 01.30.04 at 12:46 am

What it all boils down to is that “sexed up” is a “sexed up” synonym for saying exaggerated.

14

Anne C. 01.30.04 at 12:58 am

Daz, it’s convenient to say “since the late 90s” – we had a longer history with Iraq than that, and many times Iraqi assertions were proven to be false by UNSCOM. You can’t deny that there was a history of deceit.

15

tim 01.30.04 at 1:51 am

Conrad, I agree with the substance, but quibble with a detail of the metaphor. “Sexed-up” is not meant to invoke dating directly, but rather advertising. Think of calendars in auto mechanic shops, where a nearly-naked woman holds the pressure-washer or whatever, displayed for view, but the intention is to distract the viewer from careful examination of the tools.

In this case, the claim Gilligan made was that a non-expert encouraged adding in a claim that was shocking and specific – 45 minute warning of war – with the intention of distracting us from careful consideration of the claims. So the question of exaggeration or lie doesn’t simply depend on the he-said-she-said date analogy (or nudge-nudge), but on how distracted the public and hapless news media were by the claim, and how distracted Blair etc. were, and any discrepancy.

It sounds like Hutton thinks Blair/Hoon/et al. were themselves convinced of the 45-minute “fact” and included it because of a desire to inform, but that Kelly and lots of intelligence folk were not convinced, but were loyal enough to let Blair have the final word.

I guess Brits would rather have a craven or conspiratorial PM than a gullible fool. Can’t blame ’em, though its’ a hobson’s choice, Ick.

16

daz 01.30.04 at 3:54 am

Anne,

I guess we’re all in agreement about the incompetence of the various intelligence services. “They were lying then, therefore they must be lying now, despite the lack of supporting evidence” This is what we get for the millions/billions we spend on this stuff?

I am still curious about the “questionable Iraqi dissident information” that turned out to be true. I can’t recall any of that, even in the UNSCOM days, but that might just be my memory. Can you help me out with some details?

thanks

d

17

Anne C. 01.30.04 at 4:17 am

Didn’t the tip that revealed the existence of the nuclear program come from a single dissident source? Wasn’t it his son-in-law?

18

daz 01.30.04 at 6:21 am

Anne,

Iraq hasn’t had a nuclear program since the mid-90s, so any dissident info to the contrary is wrong.

I don’t pretend to be comprehensive on this, but every dissident/defector-supplied information I can find seems to have been proven completely false. Except for Saddam’s son-in-law Hussein Kamel who was in charge of nuclear, chemical, biological and missile weapons programs for roughly a decade before defecting . He told U.S. and British intelligence that Iraq had destroyed all of its chemical and biological weapons after the Gulf War and that it didn’t have a nuclear program. He’s been proven correct, I think.

He’s probably the guy you were thinking of, but he’s got the wrong info.

anything else you can recall?

regards,

d

19

bad Jim 01.30.04 at 9:46 am

Hutton’s verdict was clear:

Close, but no cigar.

20

dave heasman 01.30.04 at 11:09 am

Bob says : Why is Blair blocking an inquiry?

The answer to this, given that Blair can choose the chair of the enquiry & define its terms of reference, is largely boredom, lack of time, other fish to fry etc.

Bob also says : –

Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

Which is, how should I say this?, tosh. In general and in particular. I doubt there’s anyone who would blithely have his every move examined in minute detail while expensive lawyers assign the worst possible motives to it.

(This looks odd, but “his every move” is singular, isn’t it?)

21

Brett Bellmore 01.30.04 at 11:13 am

Tim, the purpose isn’t to distract from careful examination of the tools, but rather to garner the good will of the mechanics and machinists by handing out free softcore porn. At least, that’s how we interpret it.

They could have chosen to use free donuts, but girlie pictures don’t get stale as fast. ;)

22

Andrew 01.30.04 at 11:49 am

I’ve never heard “sexed up” used as a synonym for lying. It has always been has a “kewl” way of a saying “more attractive” or interesting.

As a matter of interest the Australian PM is using the Hutton report as proof that the invasion of Iraq was justified. Obviously he is not “sexing up” the contents of the report. He is merely lying.

23

Bob 01.30.04 at 2:08 pm

Dave Heasman,

“Which is, how should I say this?, tosh.”

Despite what you say, it seems there will probably be at least one further inquiry but by Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, which usually meets in private and reports directly to the prime minister:

“TONY BLAIR is facing an inquiry into the intelligence that led Britain into war with Iraq, dashing his hopes of drawing a line under an affair that has dogged his Government for months.

“The head of the intelligence service, MI6, is to be summoned before a new parliamentary inquiry, which will examine the accuracy of the information about Saddam Hussein’s weapons and will report in June, The Times learnt last night.” – from: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-982734,00.html

Tony Blair is indeed assured of his place in history but it will not be one that he likes.

24

Anne C. 01.30.04 at 3:23 pm

Daz, I was thinking of reports like this one:

“It wasn’t until August 1995 when Hussein Kamel, the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and head of the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, defected and revealed the scope and intensity of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Incredulously, the Iraqi regime actually blamed Kamel for conceptualizing this program on his own and led UN inspectors to a chicken farm, purportedly owned by Kamel, where documents (about 500,000 pages) revealed extensive programs to develop and build weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/expressnews/articles/ideas.cfm?p_ID=3291&s=a

25

Steve Carr 01.30.04 at 3:54 pm

Daz, why are you spending time contesting Anne on this point? Before the first Gulf War, Western intelligence agencies believed that Iraq was five to ten years away from having a nuclear weapon. After the war, we discovered that in fact Iraq had been only six months to two years away from it. So that created a bias that things were probably worse than we imagined they were. Then for seven years after the first Gulf War Hussein lied over and over again about the extent of his ongoing projects, etc. Had Kamel not defected, Hussein wouldn’t even have come clean to the extent he did.

None of this justifies the failure of the intelligence agencies, but it establishes a clear context in which their bias was to err on the side of assuming that Iraq had a nuclear and chemical weapons program.

One other thing to remember: it was not only the American and British intelligence services that thought Iraq had these capabilities. German intelligence argued Iraq might be only three years away from a bomb. And Chirac said in February 2003 that we were dealing with “the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq.” So it’s not as if the U.S. and Britain were uniquely deluded.

26

Bernard 01.30.04 at 4:10 pm

According to a release put out by the anti-war group FAIR, Hussein Kamel disclosed that “I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons–biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed”. This, apparently, in the aftermath of Gulf War I.

A couple sentences later we find that when General Kamel defected he “took crates of documents revealing past weapons programs… Iraq responded by revealing a major store of documents that showed that Iraq had begun an unsuccesful crash programme to develop a nuclear bomb (on 20 August 1995).” (http://www.why-war.com/files/2003/07/unscom950822.html)

Now, I suppose it’s ‘fair’ to bash Bush, Blair, and the various intelligence agencies who might have been worried about old stockpiles of weapons that Kamel says were destroyed. But there was no proof attending those assertions coming from Iraq. What DID attend Kamel’s assertions that “all weapons were destroyed” was proof that “Iraq had begun an (as yet) unsuccessful crash program to develop a nuclear bomb.”

So, yes. There were contradictory indicators of what was going on in Iraq, and our knowledge of the truth was flawed, despite the best efforts of even high-level defectors. It did not help that Saddam did not and would not co-operate with attempts to uncover the truth and that the UN inspections stopped in 1998, leaving us pretty much blind to what was or was not going on.

Given the fact that the stakes were so high, I have a hard time blaming anyone for wanting to err on the side of safety.

27

Mark S. 01.30.04 at 4:37 pm

How did the stakes get to be so high, though?

Let us assume for the moment that Saddam Hussein did in fact possess chemical and biological weapons. We still don’t have any evidence, as far as I am aware, of the “nexus” between SH and terror groups that would operationalize the CBW into a possible threat against the U.S.

Surely nobody here is arguing that Hussein’s mere possession of such weapons by itself transformed him into a threat worthy of conducting preventive war against. Were that the case, we should have been shaking in our boots over him for twenty years, not two. No, the logic was explicitly that Iraq might have WMD, and might have links to terrorists — someday, in the future, presumably — ergo stepping up the Clinton-era “regime change” policy into the arena of military force was justifiable.

Bush and Blair took a calculated risk. They imposed one hypothesis on the available data, and they broke a lot of china in executing a policy in accordance with that hypothesis. This notion that they somehow should not be held accountable for the fact that that hypothesis now turns out to have been a deeply flawed reading of that underlying data is incomprehensible.

Not to be too crude about it, but do you ask for your money back at the casino because you thought “in good faith” that you were going to draw to your inside straight? Sometimes a bad guess costs you your job, as it should.

28

Steve Carr 01.30.04 at 4:41 pm

With regard to the specifics of the Gilligan situation, I’m not sure why we’re spending so much time debating what “sexed up” means. Gilligan said that the government “probably knew” that the 45-minute claim was wrong. There’s no linguistic ambiguity here. He was saying that the government deliberately included a claim that it knew was false. There is zero evidence that this was the case.

Also, John, that closing paragraphy you quote from The Economist does not impute “deliberate exaggeration” at all, at least if by that phrase you mean (as I think you must) making statements that one knows to be false or untrue. Saying that the administrations allowed their sincere belief that Iraq had WMD to distort the evidence more likely means that the administrations’ bias toward a particular conclusion unconsciously shaped their evaluation of the evidence, leading them to discount information that militated against what they wanted to hear. This is an egregious, but all too common, decision-making problem. But it implies nothing about an intent to knowingly mislead.

29

dsquared 01.30.04 at 5:17 pm

Steve, Anne, Daz:

Nobody actually needed dissidents, defectors or any other human intelligence to come to the right conclusion about Saddam and nukes. I reached it by following this line of reasoning, suggested by Jude Wanniski:

1. You cannot make nuclear weapons without a lot of electricity.

2. There are only two ways to get your electricity for a nuclear weapons programme; either you have a local power source, or you carry it through wires.

3. A local power source would have showed up like a Christmas tree on the satellite imaging to which Iraq was exhaustively subject.

4. So would power lines carrying that much electricity.

5. So would the large earthworks needed to conceal power lines.

6. There were no satellite images of large amounts of power-carrying wire over Iraq.

7. Therefore, there was no operational nuke program.

This was also basically what Andrew Wilkie was saying, IIRC (and I may not). The fact that it’s so obvious is what makes me strongly suspect that anyone who claims to have suspected in good faith that Saddam had a nuclear program, is lying. Particularly as nowhere (not even in the document entitled “Iraq’s infrastructure of concealment, etc, etc”) did anyone even bother to address the question of how the alleged nuclear program was kept secret from spy satellites.

30

Bernard 01.30.04 at 5:18 pm

“We still don’t have any evidence, as far as I am aware, of the “nexus” between SH and terror groups that would operationalize the CBW into a possible threat against the U.S.”

Well, for starters, there’s the Feith Memo contending 50 points of linkage between Saddam’s Iraq and Osama’s al Qaeda. Then there’s the possible Abu Nidal/Atta link overseen by the head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;$sessionid$WDT3SQPWNW2ONQFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2003/12/14/wterr114.xml)

You may, of course, not want to believe these reports, but if they’re true they certainly do suggest just the sort of “nexus” that might cause alarm.

31

Steve Carr 01.30.04 at 5:37 pm

dsquared —

does this mean you think the German BND — head of which, August Hanning, quoted in The New Yorker in 2002 saying, “It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb within three years” –and Jacques Chirac (quote above) were lying?

More substantively, according to your argument, we should have known before 1991 that Saddam was very close to having an operational nuclear bomb. But we didn’t. Doesn’t that imply that our satellite imaging is perhaps less foolproof as an intelligence-gathering tool than Wanniski suggests?

32

Steve Carr 01.30.04 at 5:38 pm

as an aside, and I’ve been meaning to ask this for a while: what does IIRC mean?

33

GMT 01.30.04 at 5:48 pm

I like big butts and I cannot lie.

OK, I don’t like ’em that big … but I wasn’t lying!

To preserve the Union, it is therefore clear that we invade Bootiestan!

34

John Smith 01.30.04 at 8:22 pm

Bernard, that Con Coughlin Mohamed Atta story is pretty much discredited. Just like his story on the source of the 45 minute intelligence – who is now in hiding!

The WMD story seems to be that the pols put the thumbscrews on the intelligence people; who bent over backwards to come up with product; on which basis the pols sold the story to the public. At every stage, a blind eye was turned to the possibility of error, in order to boost the justifications for war to the maximum.

The pols are guilty, on the evidence now available, of something close to recklessness: that is, of making allegations not caring whether they were true or false; or, at least, taking every trouble to avoid raising questions that might lead to their being shown to be false.

And all this, for the purpose of justifying an pre-emptive invasion. (Which was supposed to be justified by the breach of UN Security Council resolutions. Remember them?)

The essential accusation against the pols is not that of lying – telling particular untruths deliberately – but of utmost bad faith is operating a system designed to produce intelligence, whether sound or not, favourable to war, and to diffuse responsibility for that intelligence away from themselves.

35

Bernard 01.30.04 at 9:46 pm

John, thank you for your response, but you must admit that saying the Nidal/Atta/Iraqi Intelligence story is “pretty much discredited” is not quite the same as proving there is nothing to it. (And that still leaves the Feith Memo and at least 50 other possible points of connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, so I’d say that speculation about such linkage–of which, I must say, I’m rather agnostic–is valid.)

As to the point “that the pols put the thumbscrews on the intelligence people”, well, that is really nothing more than your own interpretation, isn’t it? It might even qualify as a statement “something close to recklessness”, inasmuch as David Kay has stated that he encountered no evidence to support such an assertion. As you yourself suggest, one should take care not to engage in the “making of allegations, not caring whether they [are] true or false.”

36

Raymond 01.30.04 at 9:50 pm

Bob-

Chemical and biological weapons are simply not a threat to american/british troops and the NBC equipment issued to these troops was more than adequate.

Chem/Bio weapons are a threat to civilians, that’s what this is all about. The war is long over with, this nitpicking sends a message of weakness to those that wish to destroy us.

37

Conrad Barwa 01.30.04 at 10:30 pm

Tim – Fair point, I think you capture what I was trying to say effectively. I was amused to hear a prof tell one of his graduate students, after hearing his outline for a conference that it was good but he need a “ a title that sounded more sexy” to lure people in to attend the segment. So I guess advertising execs aren’t the only ones who have been prone to use this kind of terminology.

38

robin green 01.30.04 at 11:09 pm

Steve Carr – What’s been consistently under-reported here is that David Kelly was quite clear that the 45 minute timeframe was pure fiction. There was little doubt in his mind that, for very practical reasons, the weapons could not be readied in 45 minutes.

39

robin green 01.30.04 at 11:13 pm

Oh yes, and the Iraqi exile group that was allegedly the source of the 45 minute claim fessed up that it was made-up bollocks. Do the “liberal media” report that in the context of the Hutton Inquiry? Of course not, as any regular reader of Media Lens could explain.

40

Steve Carr 01.30.04 at 11:21 pm

Robin, with all due respect, if the weapons didn’t exist, I don’t know how David Kelly could have been certain that they couldn’t have been made ready in 45 minutes. (Are we saying that no missiles can be made ready to launch in 45 minutes? Somehow I doubt that’s the case.) In any case, I hardly think that Andrew Gilligan would have been any less quick to accuse the government of wilful deception if the claim was that it would take the Iraqis 90 minutes.

If you honestly believe that the media has under-reported the absence of evidence for WMD, then you’ve been spending too much time reading Media Lens.

41

Bob 01.31.04 at 3:01 am

Laundry time. I have been refreshing my recollection of some of the most telling of the voluminous documentation at the Hutton Inquiry into the circumstances concerning the death of Dr David Kelly.

The now notorious dossier of September 2002 on Iraq’s WMD was launched on the world by Blair with a speech in the Commons on 24 september. Only seven days before that launch, Jonathan Powell (Blair’s chief of staff) minuted John Scarlett (of the Secret Intelligence Service and chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee): ” . . First the document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let lone an imminent threat from Saddam. In other words it shows he has the means but it does not demonstrate he has the motive to attack his neighbours let alone the west. We will need to make clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have the evidence that he is an imminent threat . . ” – from: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2003/08/19/powell_no_threat.pdf

The Hutton Report and previously Blair both claim that “ownership” of the September dossier lay with the Joint Intelligence Committee. However, this note of a meeting in John Scarlett’s office plainly states that ownership lay with No 10 – at: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2003/09/04/cab_27_0002.pdf

This letter of 8 July 2003 in confidence to the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence makes clear the reservations about the September dossier held by a senior member of the Defence Intelligence staff:

“Your records will show that as [blanked out] and probably the most senior and experienced intelligence community official working on ‘WMD,’ I was so concerned about the manner in which the intelligence assessments for which I had some responsibilty were being presented in the dossier of 24 September 2002, that I was moved to write formally to your predecessor, Tony Cragg, recording and explaining my reservations.” – from: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2003/08/21/fac_defence_report.pdf

The text of the September 2002 dossier, with the claim, signed out by Blair, that WMD could be used within “45 minutes”, can be retrieved here: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2002/09/24/dossier.pdf

42

Bob 01.31.04 at 7:48 am

Raymond,

“Chemical and biological weapons are simply not a threat to american/british troops and the NBC equipment issued to these troops was more than adequate.”

If, as you say, Iraqi biological and chemical weapons were not a threat to Coalition Force troops then how come US forces were reported as wearing their chemical suits in battle in Iraq?

“US troops pushed to within 50km of the Iraqi capital today, officials said, and some were wearing their chemical suits.” – from:
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/04/02/1048962818179.html

“Missiles landed near U.S. troops, one of them falling near the men of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment. They were eating lunch when they heard the missile land in the desert before they actually heard the locomotive-like roar of the rocket flying through the air. The men swiftly put on their masks and their protective suits, then waited in the desert heat for about 20 minutes before the all-clear crackled over the radio.” – from:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,81625,00.html

43

Antoni Jaume 01.31.04 at 3:22 pm

Bob,
//
“Chemical and biological weapons are simply not a threat to american/british troops and the NBC equipment issued to these troops was more than adequate.”

If, as you say, Iraqi biological and chemical weapons were not a threat to Coalition Force troops then how come US forces were reported as wearing their chemical suits in battle in Iraq?
//

What is Raymond saying? that the NBC equipment they have is enough to make such weapons irrelevant to the result of the battle. Conventional weapons are much more effective.

DSW

44

Bob 01.31.04 at 3:57 pm

Hi Antoni,

“What is Raymond saying? that the NBC equipment they have is enough to make such weapons irrelevant to the result of the battle. Conventional weapons are much more effective.”

But in Britain, Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction”, with the real and present threat they posed, was the principal justification for the war in March last year. Hence, the notorious dossier of September 2002 with its claim that such weapons could be used within “45 minutes” – here: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2002/09/24/dossier.pdf

In due course, that dossier and the political speeches it under-pinned set in train the series of events which led to the death of Dr David Kelly and the consequential Hutton Inquiry.

45

John Kozak 02.01.04 at 12:47 pm

One of the few things that seems underdiscussed about Hutton is the framing of the whole thing – the Hutton Enquiry was in place of an inquest, and given significantly lesser inquistorial powers than an inquest would have had.

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