Oh dear. The intelligence dossier on Iraq that was recently released by the British government turns out to have been largely lifted (including spelling mistakes) from public sources.
quote:Downing Street has defended an intelligence dossier of evidence against Iraq after allegations that it included plagiarised material that was 12 years out of date.
The UK intelligence document released on Monday was designed to help win over sceptics by detailing Saddam Hussein's efforts to hide weapons of mass destruction.
But Channel 4 News claimed the document was largely copied from three different articles, including one written by a postgraduate student.
The programme claimed excerpts from a paper relating to the build-up to the 1991 Gulf War by Californian student Ibrahim al-Marashi were lifted into the intelligence document.
But a Downing Street spokesman said the dossier was "accurate" and that the government had never claimed exclusive authorship.
"The report was put together by a range of government officials," he said.
"As the report itself makes clear, it was drawn from a number of sources, including intelligence material.
"It does not identify or credit any sources, but nor does it claim any exclusivity of authorship.
"We consider the text as published to be accurate."
The UK document received praise from US Secretary of State Colin Powell this week as he outlined his country's case against Iraq.
"I would call my colleagues' attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities," Mr Powell told the UN security council.
Channel 4 News highlighted examples of the alleged plagiarism, including a suggestion in the dossier that Iraq was "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes".
This compared to the weaker, political context in the original which read "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes."
Dr Rangwala, lecturer in politics at Cambridge University, told the programme that the British Government's dossier was 19 pages long, but most of pages 6 to 16 were copied directly from the student's document word for word.
"Even the grammatical errors and typographical mistakes," he said.
"The information he was using is 12 years old and he acknowledges this in his article.
"The British Government, when it transplants that information into its own dossier, does not make that acknowledgement."
Shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin said the Tories were deeply concerned by the programme's report.
"The government's reaction to the Channel 4 News report utterly fails to explain, deny or excuse the allegations made in it," he said.
"This document has been cited by the prime minister and Colin Powell as the basis for a possible war. Who is responsible for such an incredible failure of judgment?"
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell added: "This is the intelligence equivalent of being caught stealing the spoons.
"The dossier may not amount to much but this is a considerable embarrassment for a government trying still to make a case for war."
Mr Al-Marashi told the BBC Two Newsnight programme the government document was still accurate despite "a few minor cosmetic changes".
"The only inaccuracies in the UK document were that they maybe inflated some of the numbers of these intelligence agencies.
"The primary documents I used for this article are a collection of two sets of documents, one taken from Kurdish rebels in the north of Iraq - around four million documents - as well as 300,000 documents left by Iraqi security services in Kuwait."
It is going to look good on that guy's CV, though; 'My work was cribbed by the British government'. Oh dear.
The UK government has been accused of "copying" parts of this week's dossier on Iraq from the work of a postgraduate student.
Here are some examples of similarities between the government dossier and the work of Ibrahim al-Marashi.
"Headed by Saddam Hussein but usually chaired by his son Qusay Hussein, it oversees the work of all other security agencies."
Ibrahim al-Marashi's work
"Headed by Saddam, but usually chaired by Qusay, the Council includes representatives from the Office of the Presidential Palace and Iraq's five major security units.
"Although Special Security was created to serve as an agency to coordinate Iraq's competing intelligence and security services, the National Security Council serves as the supervisory body on intelligence matters."
The Directorate of General Intelligence
"Al-Mukhabarat is roughly divided into a department responsible for internal operations, co-ordinated through provincial offices, and another responsible for international operations, conducted from various Iraqi embassies.
Its internal activities include:
Spying within the Ba'th Party, as well as other political parties;
Suppressing Shi'a, Kurdish and other opposition
targeting threatening individuals and groups inside Iraq
spying on foreign embassies in Iraq and foreigners in Iraq
maintaining an internal network of informants
Its external activities include
spying on Iraqi diplomats abroad
collecting overseas intelligence
supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes
conducting sabotage, subversion, and terrorist operations against neighbouring countries such as Syria and Iran
murder of opposition elements outside of Iraq
infiltrating Iraqi opposition groups abroad
providing dis-information and exploitation of Arab and other media
maintaining an international network of informants, using popular organisations as well such as the Union of Iraqi Students."
Ibrahim al-Marashi's work
"General Intelligence is roughly divided into a department responsible for internal operations, coordinated through provincial offices, and another responsible for international operations, conducted from various Iraqi embassies. Its internal activities include:
1) monitoring the Ba'th Party, as well as other political parties
2) monitoring other grass roots organizations, including youth, women and union groups
3) suppressing Shi'a, Kurdish and other opposition
5) targeting threatening individuals and groups inside of Iraq
6) monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq
6) monitoring foreigners in Iraq
7) maintaining an internal network of informants
Its external activities include:
8) monitoring Iraqi embassies abroad;
9) collecting overseas intelligence;
10) aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes;
11) conducting sabotage, subversion, and terrorist operations against hostile neighboring countries such as Syria and Iran;
12) murder of opposition elements outside of Iraq;
13) infiltrating Iraqi opposition groups abroad;
14) providing disinformation and attempts to exploit or use Arab and other media
15) maintaining an international network of informants, using popular organizations as well such as the Union of Iraqi Students."
"These shifting appointments are part of Saddam's policy of balancing security positions.
"By constantly shifting the directors of these agencies, no one can establish a base in a security organisation for a substantial period of time. No one becomes powerful enough to challenge the President. "
Ibrahim al-Marashi's work
"These shifting appointments are part of Saddam's policy of balancing security positions between Tikritis and non-Tikritis, in the belief that the two factions would not unite to overthrow him.
"Not only that, but by constantly shifting the directors of these agencies, no one can establish a base in a security organization for a substantial period of time, that would challenge the President."
"The Security branch is responsible for monitoring and countering dissent within Amn, and the Military Brigade provides rapid intervention para-military capabilities - the Brigade commander was executed in August 1996 for alleged involvement in a coup attempt."
Ibrahim al-Marashi's work
"Military Security is responsible for 1) detecting and countering dissent in the Iraqi armed forces"
If the government publishes a docment, in order to guide our opinions, of which 10 pages of 19 are lifted directly from soneone else's work, that is very significant. It is certainly true that they didn't lie, however.
This is causing a stir here, and I think that it is fair to say that the goverment have been caught pants down on this (I can't imagine that anyone senior knew the provenance of those ten pages). It doesn't really push the debate either way, but it is a pretty poor show. They didn't even credit the guy (you are hardly going to credit 'intelligence sources', but this stuff was public domain already).
I sort of thought the point of the dossier and inteligence reports was to provide new information?
Am I completely off-base on that? I recognize that there would be filler and background info, but still, when these reports are hyped as providing new insights, and it turns out that half of them are plagarized from 12 year old thesis' from academia, that is surely a PR black eye, even if unfairly?
Even if it isn't a negation of anything, certainly doesn't cause me to invest much trust in the reports as a whole. May be my general knee-jerk reaction to plagarism, though, as an English major. My general rule on plagarism is that if you employ it, it's because you don't have anything original or of-value to put in its place. Which is fine if you're doing a book report and make sure to credit your sources.
Tony Blair and George Bush are encountering an unexpected obstacle in their campaign for war against Iraq - their own intelligence agencies.
"You cannot just cherry-pick evidence that suits your case and ignore the rest. It is a cardinal rule of intelligence," said one aggrieved officer. "Yet that is what the PM is doing."
Last week Colin Powell made much of the presence in Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man he identified as running an al Qaeda network from Baghdad. He drew on information from al-Zarqawi's captured deputy, but made no mention of another explosive allegation from the same detainee: that Osama bin Laden's organisation received passports and NZ$1.8m in cash from a member of the royal family in Qatar.
It is well known in US intelligence circles that the CIA director, George Tenet, is angry with the Qatari government's failure to take action. But the Gulf state would be the main US air operations base in any war on Iraq, and Washington does not want to air the inconvenient facts in public.