Tracking the changes

The U.N. report on the murder of Rafik Hariri was tweaked before its release Thursday night: “UN office doctored report on Hariri.” The London Times reports:

One crucial change, apparently made after the report was submitted to the UN chief, removed the name of President al-Assad’s brother, Maher, his brother-in-law, Assef al-Shawkat, and other high-ranking Syrian officials.

The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”.

The deleted names represent the inner core of the Syrian regime. Maher al-Assad, President al-Assad’s younger brother, is a lieutenant-colonel and head of the Presidential Guard. He is known for his quick tem- per and six years ago was said to have shot his brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, in the stomach during an altercation.

General Shawkat, also among the deleted names, is married to President al-Assad’s headstrong sister, Bushra, and was appointed commander of Syrian military intelligence on February 14 this year, the day Mr Hariri was murdered. Gen- eral Shawkat’s predecessor at Military Intelligence was General Hassan Khalil, the third name on the deleted list.

General Bahjat Suleyman, the fourth Syrian on the list, was until June the head of the internal affairs section of the powerful General Security Department, the main civilian intelligence service.

Is there someone in high office at the U.N. who can’t handle the truth?

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