did not say, "hello," or even his name, just left
a one-word message: "Whitewash."
came from an embattled journalist whispering from
inside the bowels of a television and radio station
under siege, on a small island off the coast of
Ireland: from BBC London.
another call, from a colleague at the Guardian:
"The future of British journalism is very bleak."
the future for fake and farcical war propaganda
is quite bright indeed. Today, Lord Hutton issued
his report that followed an inquiry revealing
the Blair government's manipulation of intelligence
to claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass
murder threatening immanent attack on London.
on the Blair government's claim, headlines pumped
the war hysteria: SADDAM COULD HAVE NUCLEAR BOMB
IN YEAR, screeched the London Times. BRITS 45
MINS FROM DOOM, shrieked the Sun newspaper.
these facts only a sissy pacifist, a lunatic or
a Saddam fellow traveler would fail to see that
Prime Minister "Winston" Blair had no choice but
to re-conquer it's former Mesopotamian colony.
these headline were, in fact, false, and deadly
so. Unlike America's press puppies, BBC reporters
thought it their duty to check out these life
or death claims. Reporters Andrew Gilligan and
Susan Watts contacted a crucial source, Britain's
and the United Nation's top weapons inspector.
He told reporter Watts that the Weapons of Mass
Destruction claims by Blair and our own President
Bush were, "all spin." Gilligan went further,
reporting that this spin, this "sexed up" version
of intelligence, was the result of interventions
by Blair's PR henchman, Alistair Campbell.
reading of the source's statements, it was clear
that intelligence experts had deep misgivings
about the strength of the evidence for war.
source? Dr. David Kelly. To save itself after
the reports by Gilligan and Watts, the government,
including the Prime Minister himself, went on
an internal crusade to out the name of its own
intelligence operative so it could then discredit
the news items.
the name of an intelligence advisor is serious
stuff. In the USA, a special criminal prosecutor
is now scouring the White House to find the person
who publicly named a CIA agent. If found, the
Bushite leaker faces jail time.
government was not so crude as to give out Dr.
Kelly's name. Rather, they hit on a subterfuge
of dropping clues then allowing reporters to play
'20 questions' - if Kelly's name were guessed,
they'd confirm it. Only the thickest reporters
(I name none here) failed after more than a couple
Kelly, who had been proposed for knighthood was
named, harangued and his career destroyed by the
outing. He then took his own life.
today is not a day of mourning at 10 Downing Street,
rather a day of self-congratulations.
were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear
warhead just short of completion, no "45 minutes
to doom" bombs auguring a new London blitz. The
exile group which supplied this raw claim now
calls the 45 minute story, "a crock of shit."
Blair's minions are proclaiming their vindication.
is not just a story about what is happening "over
there" in the United Kingdom. This we must remember:
David Kelly was not only advisor to the British
but to the UN and, by extension, the expert for
George W. Bush. Our commander-in-chief leaped
to adopt the Boogey Man WMD stories from the Blair
government when our own CIA was reticent.
M'Lord Hutton has killed the messenger: the BBC.
Should the reporter Gilligan have used more cautious
terms? Some criticism is fair. But the extraordinary
import of his and Watts' story is forgotten: our
two governments bent the information then hunted
down the questioners.
now the second invasion of the Iraq war proceeds:
the conquest of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Until now, this quasi-governmental outlet has
refused to play Izvestia to any prime minister,
Labour or Tory.
of today, the independence of the most independent
major network on this planet is under attack.
Blair's government is "cleared" and now arrogantly
sport their kill, the head of Gavyn Davies, BBC's
chief, who resigned today.
bleak future for British journalism" portends
darkness for journalists everywhere - the threat
to the last great open platform for hard investigative
reporting. And frankly, it's a worrisome day for
me. I'm not a disinterested by-stander. My most
important investigations, all but banned from
US airwaves, were developed and broadcast by BBC
Newsnight, reporter Watts' program.
an iron curtain descend on the news? Before dawn
today, I was reading Churchill's words to the
French command in the hours before as the Panzers
breached the defenses of Paris. Churchill told
those preparing to surrender, "Whatever you may
do, we shall fight on forever and ever and ever."
This may yet be British journalism's Finest Hour.
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His reports
for BBC Newsnight and The Guardian papers and
other writings may be viewed at www.GregPalast.com.
Posted: January 31, 2004