David Lowry recalls Commons row of Friday, 30 January 2015
Clutching at Straws: The Iraq deception unveiled:
Jack Straw MP, former Labour Foreign Secretary at he time of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, asserted to Parliament yesterday: “For the avoidance of doubt, however, the whole Security Council judged in November 2002 that there was a threat to international peace and security from Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
Firebrand Respect MP, George Galloway, who had correctly predicted mass chaos in Iraq if the invasion went ahead, bellowed back: “Because they believed you and Colin Powell.”
Veteran Labour MP, on whose speech Straw had intervened, retorted: “Because they were fooled.”
Flynn had been about to reveal, when Straw executed his disruptive intervention, that Straw and Blair had already known that Saddam’s Iraq no longer had WMDS in the autumn of 2002, when the United Nations was hoodwinked. He was in full flow pointing out: “We are being denied the truth. I find it astonishing that the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) does not agree there were no weapons of mass destruction. It is amazing if he still believes there was an imminent threat to British territory. I have a document—I have no time to go into its detail—referenced by Tony Blair as evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the threat posed. It concerns a meeting on 22 August 1995 at which the principal person giving evidence was a General Hussein Kamal. For goodness’ sake, read the document!”
What was behind this claim? You can read the full 15 page text of the document Flynn flourished in the House of Commons here: http://www.casi.org.uk/info/unscom950822.pdf
But what was its provenance? Immediately below I reproduce an exchange between the editor of media-watching group, Media Lense, and the Today Programe over an item on Iraqi WMD claims several months before the now notorious sexed up claims by Andrew Gilligan on the same programme ( it also involved Gilligan, then the today Programme defence specialist)
Today item on Iraqi defectorMedia Lens editor editor at medialens.org
Mon Mar 3 19:26:40 GMT 2003
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Don't suppose anyone on this list has access to a transcript from last Friday's
Today programme from about 0750? I'd like to see
just what coverage they gave to the late Iraqi defector Hussein Kamel and his
testimony regarding Iraqi's "weapons of mass destruction". Reliable defector or
not, either way recent revelations re: the Kamel debriefing by UN weapons
inspectors undermine Bush and Blair. But the story seems to have virtually sunk
without trace (though there was a curious little article by Julian Borger in
Please see the exchange below with Today editor
From: Media Lens editor
[mailto:editor at medialens.org] Sent: 03 March 2003 09:46To: Kevin
MarshSubject: Today programme on Iraqi defector Hussein Kamel
Dear Kevin Marsh,
The report below [from FAIR, previously posted, and not included here]
regarding Iraqi defector Hussein Kamel appears to be crucial regarding Iraq's
supposed weapons of mass destruction - the crux of the case for war, so Bush and
Blair tell us....
The Today programme picked this up last Friday - a very short item at 0638
between Edward Stourton and defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan. Virtually
nothing since then. It surely merits much closer attention.
I look forward to hearing from you.
regards,(Dr) David Cromwellco-editor, Media
3 March, 2003Thanks for this - we did, actually, do rather more than you
recall: we also covered the item at 0750 in an interview withou t defence
specialist, extracts from the document, and interview with Dan Plesch and an
interview with Rolf Ekeus who supervised the original debriefKJM
Remember, this was early March 2003, a few weeks before the UK Parliament was to make its fateful vote to invade Iraq, based substantially on the believe Iraq had WMDs, and was threatening to use them.
Here is an extraordinary, contemporary article about an article in the International magazine Newsweek, that broke the claims that Saddam had already destroyed his WMDs several years before 2003
What did Kamel Say?
Posted on 6 March 2003
Last week Newsweek reported that Hussein Kamel told the CIA that Iraq did destroy all its chemical and biological weapons. You’ll remember Kamal as the son-in-law who defected, became a Western informant, then stupidly went back to Iraq, where he was quickly executed.
Newsweek had been one of many publications that had held Kamel up as an information goldmine, one that proved Iraq was up to no good.
The Newsweek story failed to make clear how this information fit in with their years of other reporting.
Nobody gives much guidance on how much of what we think about the programs is based on Kamel. Much of what he said was backed up by documents, so it can’t be all wrong.
March 3, 2003 Newsweek
Exclusive: The Defector’s Secrets
Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.Kamel was Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law and had direct knowledge of what he claimed: for 10 years he had run Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.
Saddam’s stone wall: Iraq still hasn’t satisfied the U.N. inspectors.(Saddam Hussein)(Irag shows no sign of changing its negative attitude toward weapons inspection by the United Nations)(Brief Article)
Gregory Beals John Barry
Earlier this month, a report by another U.N. body, the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed that Iraq tried to revive its nuclear-weapons program after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. When the agency demanded an explanation, Baghdad said an “unauthorized” program had been run by Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s luckless son-in-law, who defected to Jordan in 1995 and then returned to Iraq, where he was killed. That effort now seems to have been shut down, and the IAEA is prepared to give Iraq a clean bill of health on nuclear weapons.
His secret weapon.(Saddam Hussein had a germ-warfare arsenal during Gulf War)
No hurry: Iraq’s germ-warfare program finally came to light because of the defection on Aug. 8 of Saddam’s son-in-law Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, whom Ekeus describes as “the mastermind of the whole biological-weapons program.” With Kamel prepared to spill Saddam’s secrets, the Iraqis suddenly provided Ekeus with reams of information on their outlawed program. The defection will apparently not lead to Saddam’s downfall in the near future. Once again, the dictator was crushing any potential challengers at home. And given the lack of an acceptable successor to Saddam, even U.S. allies in the Middle East were in no hurry to see him fall, as long as he remains politically and militarily weakened.
But the forced revelations have deprived Saddam of his most potent secret weapon. “They kept biology as the prize,” Ekeus told Newsweek. He said the Iraqi strategy was to get economic sanctions fitted without revealing the secret of the biological weapons. Germ warfare could have given Saddam “an ideal strategic weapon,” Ekeus said, assuming he had an effective longrange delivery method. Delivered secretly, it also could have been “the ideal terrorism weapon.” Now if Iraq wants to escape from the economic sanctions that are choking it, Baghdad will have to prove that it has given up its doomsday weapons.
RELATED ARTICLE: Doomsday Arsenal
Iraq now concedes its program to make weapons of mass destruction was far more advanced than it admitted before.
* Biological: Outsiders learned for the first time that anthrax germs and botulism poisons were actually loaded into Iraqi missile warheads and bombs. If inhaled, both agents kill by destroying the ability to breathe. Iraq also loaded a little-known fungal poison called aflatoxin, which may cause cancer, and it experimented with infectious viruses.
* Nuclear: Baghdad also provided new information showing that its nuclear program was more advanced than the allies knew. In August 1990, the month it invaded Kuwait, Iraq reportedly began a crash program to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. It failed.
* Chemical: Iraq’s supply of mustard gas and nerve agents such as sarin was well known, having been used in combat against Iran and Kurdish rebels. Mustard burns skin and lungs but is much less lethal than sarin, which paralyzes.
Defector’s testimony confuses case against Iraq.
By Julian Borger in Washington.
03/01/2003 The Guardian
Hussein Kamel, the former head of Iraq’s weapons programmes whose 1995 defection has been portrayed by the US and Britain as evidence of Iraqi deceit and the futility of inspections, was a “consummate liar”, according to the last weapons inspector to interrogate him.
The transcript of the interrogation, leaked this week to Newsweek magazine and seen by the Guardian, makes it clear that the defector’s testimony on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was inconclusive and often misleading.
The emergence of the classified statements weakens the case the US and Britain has tried to build against Saddam Hussein, in which Kamel’s defection has been used to bolster claims that Iraq still has thousands of tonnes of chemical and biological weapons for which it has not accounted.
They reveal that Kamel, who was President Saddam’s son-in-law, told UN inspectors that Iraq had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons and abandoned its nuclear programme after the Gulf war. But he said blueprints, documents, computer files and moulds for missile parts had been hidden.
Rolf Ekeus, the former chief UN weapons inspector who oversaw the interrogation in August 1995, said much of the chemical arsenal had been destroyed by the inspectors, not Baghdad.
Mr Ekeus agreed that the Iraqi government had probably eliminated its biological arsenal but said he remained convinced that “seed stocks” of bacteria had been retained as well as growth media and fermenters so it could quickly reconstitute its arsenal.
Kamel, who had been the director of Iraq’s military industrial establishment, was assassinated soon after his mysterious decision to return to Iraq just weeks after his high-profile defection.
The US and British governments have pointed to the defection to emphasise the extent of Iraq’s weapons programmes and the inherent weakness of inspections.
But Mr Ekeus pointed out that Unscom, the UN special commission on Iraq, had already discovered a lot about the Iraqi pre-war biological programme earlier that year, forcing Baghdad’s admission in July, a month before Kamel’s defection, that it had pursued germ warfare.
The transcript of Kamel’s interrogation reveals a far more ambiguous picture than the one portrayed in Washington and London.
“Kamel was a consummate liar,” Mr Ekeus said.
While the transcript of the interrogation makes it clear that the defection was less than a breakthrough, it had a psychological impact on Baghdad. The Iraqi government, unsure what he was going to tell the inspectors, became much more forthcoming.
Before Mr Ekeus arrived in Amman to interrogate Kamel, the Iraqis invited him to Baghdad to hand over documents and then took him to Kamel’s chicken farm where several metal containers full of documents had been buried.
“They wanted to blame it all on Kamel,” Mr Ekeus said. “But Kamel was just carrying out the government’s policy.”
In light of this, how did Tony Blair report to Parliament - in the debate and fateful vote that finally took us to war - what the British Government ( including Straw ) knew of the Hussein Kamal claims?
18 Mar 2003 : Column 760
[Relevant document: The Fourth Report from the International Development Committee, on Preparing for the humanitarian consequences of possible military action against Iraq (HC444-I).] Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I have to inform the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith).
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I beg to move,
......In August, it provided yet another full and final declaration. Then, a week later, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. He disclosed a far more extensive biological weapons programme and, for the first time, said that Iraq had weaponised the programme—something that Saddam had always strenuously denied. All this had been happening while the inspectors were in Iraq.
Kamal also revealed Iraq's crash programme to produce a nuclear weapon in the 1990s. Iraq was then forced to release documents that showed just how extensive those programmes were. In November 1996, Jordan intercepted prohibited components for missiles
18 Mar 2003 : Column 762
that could be used for weapons of mass destruction. Then a further "full and final declaration" was made. That, too, turned out to be false.
A week later, Llew Smith MP, a Labour back bencher, and opponent of the war, for whom I then worked, asked Prime Minister Blair this question:
26 Mar 2003 : Column 235W
Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his statement of 18 March 2003, Official Report, columns 761–62, on the information provided by Hussein Kamal on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, if he will place in the Library the text of the interview. 
The Prime Minister: Following his defection, Hussein Kamal was interviewed by UNSCOM and by a number of other agencies. Details concerning the interviews were made available to us on a confidential basis. The UK was not provided with transcripts of the interviews.
But Blair inexplicably did I not find time to share with Parliament the other revelation made by Kamel viz: “all weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed”.
It was a disgraceful deception of Parliament; but other MPs should have been less gullible, more inquisitive, and have scrutinized Government assertions with greater commitment by demanding evidence. Pity they didn’t: if they had, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and 179 brave British military may still be alive today. And many more would not be maimed for life.