7th August 05:43
Osama is winning: Witch Hunt Against the BBC
Witch Hunt Against the BBC
By Robert Scheer, AlterNet
July 24, 2003
July 22, 2003 -- In England, they shot the messenger. True, the
death of British biological weapons expert David Kelly was a
suicide. But if the reserved scientist took his own life, it was in
response to the British Ministry of Defense outing and reprimanding
him as the alleged whistle-blower behind the BBC's controversial
report that the government "***ed up" its intelligence information
to make the case for war.
The BBC charge against the government in this instance was quite
mild, because what Tony Blair did was not merely hype the case for
preemptively invading Iraq. Rather, he deliberately lied to his
public about the certainty of his claims to frighten the people into
sending their children off to war. In this case, the Brits said --
wrongly -- that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in
45 minutes, a lie also employed by our president as one of his
hysterical claims to justify the invasion of Iraq.
But in England, Kelly's death and the unraveling justifications for
war have created a governmental crisis and prompted calls for Blair
The prewar confetti of frightening claims about Iraq has been
exposed as nothing more than cherry-picked snippets from
intelligence reports that generally regarded that nation's threat to
the world as modest and shrinking. Instead of admitting this
now-obvious fact, the Blair government unleashed a witch hunt
against the BBC and anyone in the Blair administration who might
have been a source for the news agency's reporting.
Kelly was the first victim of the government's revenge against the
British Broadcasting Corp., which had -- until Kelly was found dead
-- refused to name its source. The BBC has been a target of the
Blair-Bush partnership ever since they decided to invade Iraq.
During the Iraq war, the BBC, in stark contrast to leading U.S. news
outlets, distinguished itself for objective coverage of its own
government, even during a time of heightened patriotism. This should
be a great adverti*****t for the model of a free society that we
claim to be eager to export to, or impose on, the rest of the world.
In most countries, publicly subsidized broadcasting is an important
source of news, and the BBC serves as the premier example that such
reporting can withstand official government assaults on its
independence. The BBC's reporting on the doctored intelligence
concerning weapons of mass destruction followed its notable report
debunking the U.S. military propaganda tale of the battle and rescue
of Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Remember, the BBC was not taking the safe route that so many news
organizations prefer. Yet, time and again, they have been proved
right with each new revelation of half-truths, outright lies and
data manipulation on the part of the coalition's leaders-in-chief.
As Paul Reynolds, a veteran BBC military affairs ****yst, said of
the British intelligence dossier cited as the source for Bush's
now-repudiated claim about Iraq's nuclear program: "Of the nine main
conclusions in the British government do***ent 'Iraq's Weapons of
Mass Destruction,' not one has been shown to be conclusively true."
Blair last week told the U.S. Congress that he and Bush were right
to invade Iraq even if no weapons of mass destruction are ever
found. Left unmentioned is that it was the coalition that chased
U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, claiming they weren't doing
their job and that the Iraq threat was growing. Clearly the
immediacy of the threat from Hussein was a phony claim that Blair
and Bush should have known full well was not backed up by any
What's left is the idea that we are in Iraq to build a democracy
there by force. Yet the people on both sides of the Atlantic were
adamantly opposed to this sort of nation-building, smacking as it
does of past disasters, from the collapse of the British Empire to
the U.S. war in Vietnam. In essence, we are now told to be happy
with a rationale for war that we didn't find convincing before the
This is a denigration of the core ideal of representative democracy
-- rule by an enlightened public -- as are vindictive attacks on
journalistic watchdogs and whistle-blowers who keep our
representatives honest. Last week in his speech, Blair smugly
claimed the favorable judgment of future historians, but it is the
BBC that history will celebrate for its pursuit of truth.