The BBC news report that unleashed a furor in England was produced on May 29; here it is. The article, by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, deserves to be re-read carefully in the light of what we now know about Gilligan’s sources.
The BBC has said that David Kelly, who committed suicide a few days ago, was the “principal source” for Gilligan’s attack on the Blair administration. Now go to the May 29 article: Gilligan describes his source as a “senior British official,” and again as “the intelligence official” and “the official.” But David Kelly was a microbiologist and a former weapons inspector. He held a scientific staff position at the Ministry of Defence. He was not an “intelligence official” at all, let alone a “senior British official.”
So Gilligan blatantly misrepresented the source of his alleged information about the Blair government. Moreover, that misrepresentation was critical to the credibility of the BBC’s report. The substance of Gilligan’s charge was as follows: “The intelligence official told the BBC the dossier had been ‘transformed’ a week before it was published on the orders of Downing Street. He said: ‘The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes. That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn’t reliable. He said ‘most people in intelligence’ were unhappy about the changes because they ‘didn’t reflect the considered view they were putting forward’.”
It was, of course, credible that a “senior intelligence official” would have knowledge of the drafting process that went into the Iraq dossier and would, perhaps, have an informed opinion about the views of “most people in intelligence.” But David Kelly, so far as is known, was not involved in intelligence at all. No one has yet explained how he would come to have the information set forth in Gilligan’s article.
Small wonder that Kelly testified before a Parliamentary committee that he was not the source for Gilligan’s story. Gilligan, at a minimum, is guilty of grossly misrepresenting the source of his alleged information. In the alternative, he made the whole thing up. A full investigation of the BBC is in order.
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