Friday, July 18, 2003

The War in the Darkness

Just when you thought it was safe to talk a walk ... this happens. "The body found near the home of Dr David Kelly, the government adviser named as the possible source of controversial claims about the Iraq weapons dossier reported by BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan, matches the description of that of the missing man."

A little background here. Dr. Kelly is at the center of the British debate over whether the evidence purporting that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was faked. That debate had an overt, and now we know, a covert aspect. The overt debate was over whether President Bush and Prime Minister Blair exaggerated the known evidence on Saddam's arsenal. But there are subtexts. Subtext number one relates to a BBC expose alleging that Tony Blair's communications director, Alastair Campbell inserted a phrase embellishing Hussein's capabilities. That has since become a debate over the whether the BBC faked Campbell's supposed insertion itself, culminating in a parliamentary inquiry which basically held that BBC correspondent was an "unsatisfactory witness" -- a polite word for liar. Dr. Kelly was suspected -- or alleged to be Gilligan's source. And although the parliamentary committee cleared Kelly of any wrongdoing, there is now the little matter of his discovered corpse. Across the Atlantic, the American version of the controversy swirls around whether President George Bush willfully misled the American people in the matter of whether the Saddam Hussein bought uranium in Africa. That information, now admitted to be false, or at least suspect, originated from the French.

Now for the covert aspects. Theory one. George Bush and Tony Blair connived to mislead the world about Saddam's WMDs and have killed Dr. Kelly to silence him. Theory two. The suppliers of Saddam's arsenal are covering their tracks: that is to say, the French are covering their tracks with a disinformation campaign to bring down their archenemy Tony Blair. Andrew Sullivan seems to think that the WMDs were real, which supports Theory Two. But if that were so, whose side are the French on? And besides, why must Theory One necessarily be wrong?

There's not enough data to reject either hypothesis. But there is enough data to establish that a huge struggle is now under way of which we can catch but a glimmer. The murder of Dr. Kelly is the First World version of the escape of Fathur Roman Al Ghozi: a wheel within a wheel. It is a reminder, if any were needed, that we are in a World War in the same class as the struggle which transpired between 1939 and 1945. Churchill famously said that "in war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". What truth? Which lies?

Watch your back, and keep safe.