Wednesday :: Dec 9, 2009

The Taxi Ride To Hell

by Turkana

The British continue to investigate their path into the Iraq War.

The Guardian:

An Iraqi taxi driver may have been the source of the discredited claim that Saddam Hussein could unleash weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, a Tory MP claimed today.

Adam Holloway, a defence specialist, said MI6 obtained information indirectly from a taxi driver who had overheard two Iraqi military commanders talking about Saddam's weapons.

The 45-minute claim was a key feature of the dossier about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was released by Tony Blair in September 2002. Blair published the information to bolster public support for war.

And this claim received banner headlines in Britain. It also was of significant value to those promoting the war in the United States. In fact, it was that same month that Bush first made the claim that Iraq could launch a WMD in as little as 45 minutes. And the traditional media played right along.

Glenn Greenwald:

Other disclosures reveal that Blair was making claims that his own intelligence services were vehemently rejecting. For all the discussion about what happened in the run-up to that war, we still have not, in my view, come close to appreciating the historic magnitude of the evil of this crime -- and, of course, there have been no consequences for anyone responsible. It's always worthwhile -- and still startling -- to look back and see how blatantly false claims such as Blair's taxi-derived "45-minute" assertion were pervasively and uncritically exploited to justify this war...

And Greenwald provides quotes from American media sources such as an NPR interview, a commentary from U.S. News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, a USA Today editorial, CNN's David Ensor, and The New Republic's Ryan Lizza.

One can go on and on with that. One of the worst retroactive, self-justifying lies told about this time period by those who did these things is that they had no reasons to question the false claims they were disseminating because "everyone" believed them and nobody disputed them.

And Greenwald proves these claims false by referencing articles from Der Spiegel and McClatchy Newspapers, and from quotes by former arms inspector Scott Ritter and someone named Howard Dean. All somehow managed to question or see through the lies.

In Britain, this lie was of such value to those promoting the war that when the BBC correctly reported its fallaciousness, the BBC itself came under attack.

The BBC explains:

The row between the BBC and the government came after a report suggesting the dossier had been "sexed up" by Downing Street against the wishes of the intelligence services and that the 45-minute claim was included even though the government "probably knew" it was wrong.


The infamous September 2002 dossier included the now discredited claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order being given.

It was at the heart of the row between the government and the BBC which culminated in the death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly.

Kelly committed suicide, when it was revealed he had been the source of the BBC's story; and as reported in The Telegraph, some still believe Kelly's suicide wasn't actually a suicide.


The people who mindlessly passed on claims like Tony Blair's "45-minute" hysteria did it without regard to whether it was true. At best, they didn't care. They wanted the invasion and were willing to say anything to justify it. The ones who were most unquestioning were "journalists" whose only ostensible function is to question -- see but a small sampling of examples above. What's most remarkable about all of it is that virutally none has even acknowledged wrongdoing and none has suffered any consequences of any kind. This British investigation is underscoring just how extreme all of this was.

It would be nice if someone in this country bothered to conduct a similar investigation. It's not clear that there will be legal consequences to what the British are revealing, but they are at least compiling a historical record. We could do the same. If those with subpoena power bothered to use it.

Turkana :: 1:35 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!