Iraq ‘WMD’ lies and the BBC, then and now

This video from the USA is called Investigations On WMD Lies That Led To Iraq War.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Truth dawns: 11 years late

Thursday 04 April 2013

BBC Panorama marked the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war by taking apart the “lies” behind WMD “intelligence.”

Unfortunately, before the Iraq war, when it actually counted, Panorama said exactly the opposite. In September 2002 journalist Jane Corbin‘s programme The Case Against Saddam was full of the same “lies” that built the case for war in the first place.

Panorama’s eventual takedown of the war lies was an efficient job, but sadly 11 years too late.

The current edition of Panorama put much emphasis on “defectors” with fake stories about Iraqi WMD – but in 2002 Panorama broadcast one of the worst of them.

Back then the programme told viewers that “there is the testimony of recent defectors who brought out new information about his weapons programme.

“Some are unreliable but we’ve spoken to two who we understand are believed to be credible in what they say about the Iraqi regime.”

Except they weren’t credible. Panorama gave screen time to Iraqi engineer Adnan al-Haideri, saying WMD “have been hidden away in heavily populated areas, even under a hospital in Baghdad.”

Haideri’s tall stories of WMD labs “beneath Saddam’s many presidential palaces” were too absurd to appear in any government dossier, although they were spread across many newspapers as well as appearing in Panorama.

Haideri was promoted by dodgy “exile” group the Iraqi National Congress, which was paid millions of dollars by the US government. In essence, Panorama made the case for war by broadcasting US-funded lies about WMD.

In 2002 Panorama broadcast other nonsense. It spoke about Saddam’s attempts to “smuggle fissile material” out of Africa – a tall tale it now says was based on the “Niger forgeries.”

These obviously and absurdly fake documents discussed Saddam’s attempts to import “1,000 aluminium centrifuge tubes” for refining the non-existent African uranium. Except these tubes were not for use in centrifuges, which didn’t exist. Panorama described damning evidence from Saddam’s son-in-law Hussein Kamal, who defected with “Iraq’s most closely guarded germ warfare secrets.”

He did, but also accurately told weapons inspectors that all WMD programmes had been dismantled.

In 2002 Panorama said: “Where has Saddam got to in rebuilding his chemical weapons capability today? He still has enough material to manufacture 200 tons of VX gas in just a few weeks. And he’s got several hundred tons of mustard gas, the choking agent he’s used before, plus several thousand munitions to deliver it on the battlefield.”

Except he didn’t. Panorama said: “He still has chemical and biological weapons or the means to make them quickly.” That wasn’t true either.

Some of the evidence, like Haideri’s, was always unconvincing.

Some, like the aluminium tubes, African uranium and Hussein Kamil’s “confession,” began falling apart before the war.

Unfortunately Panorama didn’t rush back to correct these stories in 2003, preferring to save telling the truth for a decade.

Panorama’s new programme focused on individual responsibility. It said Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist involved in circulating the Niger forgeries, feels “guilty,” as she told the programme.

But strangely, while keen to focus on the guilt of other journalists who passed on the Iraq war lies, Panorama didn’t want to look at its own complicity.

If its makers were honest, they could tell us more about government manipulation.

Why did they think some lying “defectors” were reliable in 2002? Did British government officials suggest they were?

This would be a new, serious point they could explore.

But unfortunately Panorama preferred to follow another maxim – being the media means never having to say you are sorry.

PETER FROST reminds us how, from its inception, the BBC was politically the voice of the ruling conservative elites: here.

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