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November 13, 2006

Danish journos on trial for exposing lack of WMD in Iraq

An editor and two reporters for a Danish newspaper are on trial for publishing classified analysis showing that Iraq had no WMD in 2003:

In articles published in 2004 they quoted from analysis by a Danish intelligence agent, Frank Grevil.

His report, written before the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, concluded that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.

The Berlingske Tidende journalists could go to jail if found guilty. [BBC]

The journalists say that the overwhelming public importance of these facts justified their publication, despite the fact that they were leaked secrets.

The Danish government supported the US-lead invasion. This prosecution feels like payback.

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Comments

Off topic, but I gotta finally ask someone...what's the deal with spelling the word "the" as "teh", like in the previous post about the Allen supporter yelling at you and "Teh Gay"? I'm seeing the "teh" usage at various sites, and I'm curious about its origins.

dOOdspeak/Netlang. Kind of like saying "pOwned", "uber", etc. I'm not sure where it originated from but my guess was that it was a common miswritten word by people, and it just caught on for some reason and people use it to make fun of other people considered "doodish". "Da Bomb" is another way of mispeaking 'the' as well which was quite popular for different reasons.

I always thought that 'teh' was simply a typo. I've noticed myself writing it and correcting it once in a while. Same with "bring you car" instead of "bring your car." I never used to do that before email.

On topic: I wonder, of course, whether the Prime Minister knew it was a false claim, or if he was taking the word of foreign intel agencies over his own.

I was in Army Intel for years. Yet, I side with the reporters. When the government is going under false assumptions someone needs to speak up.

If they released classified information, then they broke the law. They were probably morally justified in doing so, but that's orthogonal to the legal side of things.

(Of course, IANAL, and IA especially NA Danish L.)

What kind of intelligence assets (besides native intelligence, which our own folks lacked) would the Danish government have? I never would have thought they were players.

Every developed nation, and many underdeveloped ones, have intelligence agencies. Bulgarians, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Danes, Dutch. Even Zimbabwe. Iran's Savak was highly feared until Khomeini dissolved it, and Iran's present intelligence arm is very important in the region. Basically, if you have a military of any significance (and "significance" is highly relative, but everyone in NATO qualifies), you probably have a military intelligence arm. Denmark apparently also has a Police Intelligence agency. It does seem strange, given that they're not in a very tense neighborhood like China is, but there you go.

Denmark, with the rest of Scandinavia and Benelux, were also messed with a great deal before and during WW II, by the bigger powers. You can imagine that even though they can't mount a great defensive force since their heyday (in the 19th century and earlier), such a history of being the plaything of others would make them want to leverage their intelligence agencies as much as possible, because you can build them up a bit more cheaply than a big military. Also, intelligence agencies are as often defensive as offensive. Any country can feel threatened, and if they do, and they can't build a big military, they'll build up a quietly effective intelligence agency or two.

Exposing corrupt foreign policy secrets is teh hawt.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa! Hold on here! Are these guys saying there were no WMDs? NO WMDs!? NONE?

But that would mean... No, it can't be true.

What kind of intelligence assets (besides native intelligence, which our own folks lacked) would the Danish government have? I never would have thought they were players.

Hmm, you can also ask why Switzerland had a secret nuclear programme between 1946 and 1969...

On topic: I wonder, of course, whether the Prime Minister knew it was a false claim, or if he was taking the word of foreign intel agencies over his own.

Every relevant politician in Europe knew that is was a highly dubious claim at least, even the CIA since the interrogation of Hussein Kamel on the 25. August 1995 where he affirmed that all existing WMDs were destroyed. A fact that neither Cheney, nor Powell, nor Blair, nor Tenet mentioned publicly when they cited Kamel as a principal witness for their apocalyptic threat warnings. That was one of the reasons why Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld created the "Office of Special Plans". The CIA was too intelligent and professional for fabricating propaganda lies.

The beginning of 2003 was the hottest political pre-war phase in Europe. The people's general rejection of a war was striking and uncovered political lies and manipulations dominated the news. In February 2003, the British government released a dossier entitled "Iraq - Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation", based on "intelligence material". It was praised by Colin Powell in his speech to the UN security council. Funny enough, it turned rapidly out that it was nothing more than an ordinary cut&paste plagiarism. The bulk of the 19-page document was directly copied without acknowledgement from the internet version of a "Middle East Review of International Affairs" article. The author was a postgraduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the data was completely outdated and some of the original formulations were manipulated ("supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes" instead of "supporting hostile regimes", for instance). Even his typographical errors were incorporated. Six more pages relied on articles in "Jane's Intelligence Review" in 1997 (Guardian, FAS). Seems, that James Bond is sometimes overworked.

At this time, Denmark's Prime Minister Rasmussen told the Danish parliament that he was convinced that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. In January 2003, former intelligence officer Major Frank Soeholm Grevil told reporters at the Berlingske Tidende newspaper he had sent 10 reports to the prime minister which concluded that the coalition was unlikely to find weapons of mass destruction (BBC).

As a reaction to the 2004 newspaper article, the Danish government declassified some intelligence reports that -- contrary to Grevil's claims -- alleged to show that Iraq probably had biological and chemical weapons just before the war. But journalists weren't convinced and instantly, AP news agency reported that a Danish intelligence report dated 7 March, 2003 concluded that there was no "certain information that Iraq has operative weapons of mass destruction". As a result, Danish defence minister Jensby resigned in April 2004 (BBC).

As former senior military officer Lt-Gen Kjeld Hillingsoe said to Danish radio in 2004: "Anyone who reads the British news magazine The Economist would not be particularly surprised by the contents of the Danish Iraq assessments."

Really nobody in Europe was surprised, as nobody was surprised by the Duelfer Report.

>Funny enough, it turned rapidly out that it was nothing more than an ordinary cut&paste plagiarism.

Thanks Axel, thoughtful post as usual. I was shocked that British intelligence, which for years the American CIA modelled themselves on, did such a thing.

As I mentioned elsewhere (repeatedly, I'm afraid), our own State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and our Department of Energy's intelligence department both discredited the aluminum tubes story.

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