Lies, obfuscation and plagiarism

Lies, obfuscation, denial, hyperbole and now outright plagiarism characterize the U.S. right-wing-led push to war against the people of Iraq.

When U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (in his Feb. 5 UN exhortation to war) referred to a 19-page dossier purported to be a “hot off the presses” delineation of the sins of Saddam, few knew that it was actually in part plagiarized from a Monterey, Calif., graduate student, Ibrahim al-Marashi. The “intelligence dossier” was released in England the day before Powell’s performance at the UN.

England’s Channel Four News learned that “the bulk of the nineteen-page document was copied from three different articles – one written by a graduate student.” The document was published on the No. 10 Downing Street web site. Its title there is “Iraq – Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation,” outlining the structure of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence apparatus as discovered by official British intelligence up to that moment. However, according to Channel Four News, paragraph after paragraph had been “copied from an article published in September 2002 in a small journal: the Middle East Review of International Affairs.” Cambridge University student Glen Rangwala noticed the document published on the No. 10 website was “familiar reading,” including al-Marashi’s grammatical errors. (To compare the two documents, go to www.channel4.com.)

Spokespersons for No. 10 Downing Street, backed into a corner, admitted to the plagiarism charge, saying it had “made a mistake.” One line of defense from No. 10 was that their plagiarism (intellectual theft) “does not throw into question the accuracy of the document as a whole.” Come now, boys. The world was looking for the very latest news of what Iraq possesses in the line of “weapons of mass destruction.” Surely, an article by a doctoral candidate, written a full four and a half months ago, is not the latest in military intelligence from both Britain and the U.S. Or is it?

Some of those who crafted the report had no relation to official intelligence offices; some were staffers at the Department of Communications (headed by Alastair Campbell) at No. 12 Downing Street, others were staffers at No. 10. Among those responsible for the document’s contents were Campbell’s personal assistant, Alison Blackshaw; a junior No. 10 press officer, Murtarza Khan; one other No. 10 official; and a foreign office official. None of them experts on Iraq according to press reports.

Taking issue with another of Powell’s statements, British officials (according to the Guardian 2/07/03) refuted Powell’s claim that the murder of Stephen Oake, a special branch officer (policeman) in Manchester, England, was tied to a leading Al-Qaida operative that Iraq allegedly harbored.

Powell spoke of “terrorist cells” in western Europe that had graduated from a camp in Afghanistan run by a Jordanian who had close ties to Saddam Hussein. Unwilling to follow Powell’s bouncing ball any further, British security forces refuted Powell’s claim, with one officer characterizing it as “jumping to conclusions.”

All in all, fomenting imperialist war isn’t as easy as it used to be. The millions of people in the world who stand firm and say “no” to war and bloodshed are getting some help from the refuted lies, exposed plagiarism, and stunning disregard for the people’s intelligence that the right wing uses in place of facts. However we may laugh at the incompetence of the warmongers, we must understand how very serious and vicious they are in their determination to do whatever it takes to plunge the world into a bloodbath. But, damn, you would think they could at least write their own stuff.

Barbara Jean Hope is a reader from Philadelphia. She can be reached at Bjhope2000@cs.com