The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Operation Rockingham - world's media pass by on the other side

It's the spy story-cum-conspiracy that, if it's kosher, should have hacks ten deep bashing out pieces on their laptops.

Yet, since, the latest instalment in the Guardian - my piece of November 21 everyone has been staying away.

Not even the Guardian's own specialists in intelligence matters, like Richard Norton-Taylor, have touched the story, even with the proverbial nine-foot pole. (In the meantime, Norton-Taylor has had six bylines, according to the paper's search page.)

Is the media silence professional respect for the outstanding quality of the paper's story? Or because they think it belongs on the Onion?

There have been a couple of letters published by the Guardian in reply to the Michael Meacher article: the first (November 22) from John NL Morrison, who gets straight to the point:
Michael Meacher's unadulterated codswallop. I can say this because I personally set up Rockingham in 1991, when I was head of the central secretariat in the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS)...From 1995-99 I was deputy chief of defence intelligence and head of profession for DIS analysts.

(I assume, from the fact that there is no correction on the page, that the paper checked that the writer was who he said he was.)

According to Morrison,
Rockingham was a tiny cell which drew on and coordinated all the resources of the DIS; its only aim was to provide leads for Unscom teams, which it did very successfully despite the problems of sanitising sensitive intelligence

The second letter (November 29) came from the ubiquitous Scott Ritter, commenting on the Morrison letter:
While factually correct in the few substantive points made about Operation Rockingham, the letter is disingenuous about the role and impact it played concerning the shaping of British intelligence reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the UN efforts to disarm them.

He says Rockingham
institutionalised a process of "cherry-picking" intelligence produced by the UN inspections in Iraq that skewed UK intelligence about Iraqi WMD towards a preordained outcome that was more in line with British government policy than it was reflective of ground truth.
and asserts that
Many examples can be offered to counter Morrison's assertions that Operation Rockingham was little more than a "tiny intelligence cell"...

The problem is that Ritter is not a corroborative source: his views were prominently represented in both the original Glasgow Sunday Herald piece [1] and in Meacher's. His bolt has already been shot.

Who's kidding who here?

  1. For links, work back from November 21 piece.

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