Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 17 June 1 - 7, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Straw, Powell Had Serious Doubts Over Their Iraqi Weapons Claims : Secret transcript revealed
Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor
deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their
political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting
between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on
meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the
growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective
governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according
to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation.
foreign secretary reportedly expressed concern that claims being made by Mr
Blair and President Bush could not be proved. The problem, explained Mr Straw,
was the lack of corroborative evidence to back up the claims.
of the intelligence were assumptions and assessments not supported by hard facts
or other sources.
Powell shared the concern about intelligence assessments, especially those being
presented by the Pentagon's office of special plans set up by the US deputy
defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.
Powell said he had all but "moved in" with US intelligence to prepare
his briefings for the UN security council, according to the transcripts.
he told Mr Straw he had come away from the meetings "apprehensive"
about what he called, at best, circumstantial evidence highly tilted in favour
of assessments drawn from them, rather than any actual raw intelligence.
Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would
not "explode in their faces".
are called the "Waldorf transcripts" are being circulated in Nato
diplomatic circles. It is not being revealed how the transcripts came to be
made; however, they appear to have been leaked by diplomats who supported the
war against Iraq even when the evidence about Saddam Hussein's programme of
weapons of mass destruction was fuzzy, and who now believe they were lied to.
circulating the transcripts call themselves "allied sources supportive of
US war aims in Iraq at the time".
transcripts will fuel the controversy in Britain and the US over claims that
London and Washington distorted and exaggerated the intelligence assessments
about Saddam's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programme.
unnamed intelligence official told the BBC on Thursday that a key claim in the
dossier on Iraq's weapons released by the British government last September -
that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of an
order - was inserted on the instructions of officials in 10 Downing Street.
Ingram, the armed forces minister, admitted the claim was made by "a single
source; it wasn't corroborated".
yesterday in Warsaw, the Polish capital, Mr Blair said the evidence of weapons
of mass destruction in the dossier was "evidence the truth of which I have
absolutely no doubt about at all".
said he had consulted the heads of the security and intelligence services before
emphatically denying that Downing Street had leaned on them to strengthen their
assessment of the WMD threat in Iraq. He insisted he had "absolutely no
doubt" that proof of banned weapons would eventually be found in Iraq.
Whitehall sources make it clear they do not share the prime minister's optimism.
Waldorf transcripts are all the more damaging given Mr Powell's dramatic
75-minute speech to the UN security council on February 5, when he presented
declassified satellite images, and communications intercepts of what were
purported to be conversations between Iraqi commanders, and held up a vial that,
he said, could contain anthrax.
he said, had come from "people who have risked their lives to let the world
know what Saddam is really up to".
of the intelligence used by Mr Powell was provided by Britain.
US secretary of state, who was praised by Mr Straw as having made a "most
powerful and authoritative case", also drew links between al-Qaida and Iraq
- a connection dismissed by British intelligence agencies. His speech did not
persuade France, Germany and Russia, who stuck to their previous insistence that
the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq should be given more time to do their job.
Waldorf meeting took place a few days after Downing Street presented Mr Powell
with a separate dossier on Iraq's banned weapons which he used to try to
strengthen the impact of his UN speech.
few days later, Downing Street admitted that much of its dossier was lifted from
academic sources and included a plagiarised section written by an American PhD
Wolfowitz set up the Pentagon's office of special plans to counter what he and
his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, considered inadequate - and unwelcome - intelligence
from the CIA.
angered critics of the war this week in a Vanity Fair magazine interview in
which he cited "bureaucratic reasons" for the White House focusing on
Iraq's alleged arsenal as the reason for the war. In reality, a "huge"
reason for the conflict was to enable the US to withdraw its troops from Saudi
Arabia, he said.
Earlier in the week, Mr Rumsfeld suggested that Saddam might have destroyed such weapons before the war.
May 31, 2003