Showing on tonite's national news downunder is this piece:
|17:00 AEST Tue 19 Aug 2003|
|E-mails fuel claims of 'sexed-up' dossier|
Revelations that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office apparently authorised a "substantial rewrite" of a controversial dossier on Iraq will fuel claims that London exaggerated intelligence data to bolster the case for war on Saddam Hussein, newspapers said.
The papers were commenting on evidence given to a judicial inquiry into the apparent suicide of government weapons expert David Kelly, the scientist at the centre of a row over how Britain went to war on Saddam Hussein in March.
The inquiry in London heard that an email from Blair's director of communications Alastair Campbell to chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell, dated September 5, disclosed that a government dossier on Iraq was being substantially rewritten ahead of its publication on September 24.
The right-wing Daily Mail said "the disclosure blows a huge hole in the government's claims that there was no political interference before the document's publication last September".
Campbell is the man accused by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan of embelleshing the dossier, aimed at justifying the case for military action.
Gilligan alleged in a British newspaper article on June 1 that Campbell, who is set to testify before the probe in London, was responsible for inserting a sensational claim into the dossier, a week before its publication, that stated Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in just 45 minutes.
The right-of-centre daily The Times said Campbell's message to Powell "threatened to blow a hole ... in Downing Street's insistence that it had not "sexed up" last September's Iraq weapons dossier".
The right-wing Daily Express said that the comment will "provide further ammunition for critics who accused Downing Street of 'sexing up' the dossier shortly before publication".
And the Financial Times business daily said that the message would "reinforce concerns among critics of the Iraq war about the way the prime minister used intelligence material to make the case for the attack."
Documents released to the judicial inquiry showed that the September dossier should be altered "as per TB's discussion" -- an apparent reference to Tony Blair.
An email from Campbell said: "Re dossier, substantial rewrite with JS and Julian M in charge, which JS will take to US next Friday, and be in shape Monday thereafter.
"Structure as per TB's discussion. Agreement that there has to be real intelligence material in their presentation."
JS apparently referred to John Scarlett, the chairman of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, while Julian Miller was the the Cabinet Office's chief-of-the-assessment-staff. The US stood for the United States.
Meanwhile a separate email from Powell, also presented to the inquiry on Monday, outlined his misgivings over the September dossier on the potential threat of Iraqi weapons.
"The dossier is good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced," Powell said in an email addressed to Scarlett.
"The document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam," said the email -- dated September 17 2002 -- exactly a week before the dossier was published.
"It shows he (Saddam) has the means but it does not demonstrate he has the motive to attack his neighbours let alone the West," Powell said in the email.
"We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat," the e-mail added.
The Financial Times said that the message revealed "significant private doubts within number 10 (Downing Street) about the extent of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein."
A government row with the BBC over whether or not the government "sexed up" its dossier and Kelly's subsequent and mysterious death have left Blair, who is dwindling badly in opinion polls, facing his gravest crisis since coming to power in 1997.
Kelly apparently committed suicide in July days after being grilled by two parliamentary committees and after he was named by the defence ministry as the likely source of Gilligan's reports.
Now in its second week, the inquiry into Kelly's death has turned to focus on the role of Blair's office, with the careers of several officials including Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon hanging in the balance.
So many mothers lost sons. Fortunately the aussies were casualty free, but not so the others in the famed "coalition".
What's being reported in the UK about this?