Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Looks like BBC's Andrew Gilligan is running out of friends. First one of his bosses, Kevin Marsh, says his report (that the Blair gov't sexed up weapons intelligence) was "marred by flawed reporting." Then his colleague Susan Watts, who also spoke to the late David Kelly, submitted a taped conversation with Kelly in which he said.... well, definitely something a good deal different than what Gilligan says he said. And then...

Watts' testimony was supported by Gavin Hewitt, a third BBC reporter who spoke to Kelly. Hewitt said he asked Kelly in June if the 45-minute assertion was inserted into the dossier against the wishes of intelligence agents. ``I'm not sure I'd go that far,'' Kelly replied, according to Hewitt.
Notice, however, that this Bloomberg report is significantly different from a New York Times piece that appeared in today's IHT. Story seems to be changing by the hour. In that piece, Susan Watts revealed her shorthand notes of one of her conversations with David Kelly, which went something like this: "A mistake to put in, Alastair Campbell seeing something in there, single source, but not corroborated, sounded good." The journalist thought these remarks were too "glib" to warrant reporting.

The row seems to be centering on the "45 minute" statement (the assertion that Iraq had WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes of an order being given to do so). Lost in all of this is that fact that the 45 minute statement is looking pretty bogus at this point, whether or not Kelly actually said that Downing Street inserted it. You might say it's a rather minor point. I'd say maybe, but it's certainly no less important than who said what to whom about who wanted or didn't want what in the dossier.


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