Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Who murdered David Kelly? A theory:

  1. Kelly was a microbiologist who was the leader of the British weapons inspection team in Iraq. Contrary to what you might think, Kelly was a war hawk with respect to Saddam, thought Saddam was a grave danger with his weapons of mass destruction, and supported the attack on Iraq. He was also, however, a stickler for truth and accuracy, and this might have led to his death.

  2. With the complete lack of success of the attack on Iraq, both Bush and Blair have had to delve deep into their sack of lies to justify the necessity for the war. Since the tenuous legality for the war depended on the imminent danger from Saddam, Blair relied heavily on his claim that Saddam could launch an attack of deadly weapons of mass destruction on Britain in 45 minutes. This has turned out to be complete nonsense. Saddam had neither the weapons of mass destruction nor the delivery system. The 45 minute claim apparently came from one Iraqi defector and referred to the period that the Iraqi command and control operations could become active. It had absolutely nothing to do with the actual launching of weapons of mass destruction and was absolutely no proof of imminent threat to Britain. Since there was no imminent threat the whole attack was completely illegal. Since the British people still believe in the importance of international law, this lie in Blair's justification for the war would have political consequences.

  3. Kelly was aware that the 45-minute claim, as well as other claims made by Blair, were lies or exaggerations, and he was troubled by it. He was so troubled by it, that he decided to contact a BBC reporter to explain what was wrong with Blair's claims.

  4. Kelly probably received the normal assurances from the BBC that his identity as a source would be protected, and had no idea of the political firestorm that the BBC reporting would cause. The British government immediately went on a hunt for the source, and levelled terrible threats at the BBC, which, to its credit, didn't back down. It was Alastair Campbell, the government’s director of communications and a key aide to Blair, who decided to spin the whole story so that it appeared to be entirely about the identity of the source, thus hoping to deflect the importance of the contents of the story away from the government. In fact, Campbell may have invented the term 'sexed up.' The original story said that the dossier:

    "was transformed in the week before it was published to make it sexier. The classic example was the claim that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes. That information was not in the original draft."

    Campbell seems to have over-dramatized the story in order to attempt to reduce its credibility and to deflect the allegation that he personally was responsible for the inclusion of the 45-minute claim, and the whole attempt blew up on him. When Campbell - who by the way appears to be absolutely and completely insane - started to exaggerate the situation, thus making the informant look more important than he actually was, Kelly decided to confess his involvement in the matter to the Ministry of Defence, and here his problems began.

  5. The Ministry of Defence appears to have isolated him and interrogated him in the harsh way they might treat a spy. It is possible that they threatened him with loss of his job or pension, or perhaps even criminal punishment. They kept him in a 'safe' house, which was to keep him safe from talking to any reporters. Then they ratted him out to the Blair government and the press (the other view, which may be pure Labour spin, is that the Ministry of Defence tried to protect Kelly and that it was Defence Minister Geoff Hoon who was behind the decision to release Kelly's name to the press, thus pinning the blame on Hoon and isolating Blair from the scandal).

  6. The Labour members were furious that the informant's information had criticized the famous 45-minute claim. This was a direct attack on Alastair Campbell. They were even more furious at the BBC and its reporter, and wanted to have the head of the reporter, Andrew Gilligan. Their scheme, which may have been Hoon's idea, was to prove that Kelly was the sole source for the leak, and then have Kelly say he never used the words 'sexed up', thus proving that the BBC reporter was a liar and therefore casting doubt over the whole story. To that end, they viciously attacked Kelly, whose quiet demeanor seemed to have fooled them into thinking they could bully him into giving them what they wanted. In fact, Kelly never admitted that he was the sole source, leaving open the possibility that another source had used the words 'sexed up', and thus destroying their whole scheme. Kelly was extremely clever in the way he led them to believe that he could not have been the sole source as there was information in the story which he was not aware of. Their attacks on Kelly were so vicious, however, that it appears that they led to his suicide. The irony is that Kelly probably was the sole source, a fact which the BBC has now revealed.

  7. Blair's people are actually attacking the BBC for bearing responsibility for the death of Kelly. Their argument seems to be that if the BBC had revealed its source, the Labour hounds would not have had to so attack Kelly that he would have decided to kill himself. This is the type of argument that the kind of psychos in Labour would come up with: if you'd broken your journalist's obligation to protect your source, we wouldn't have had to kill him. The BBC is almost entirely blameless in all this. They received information from a whistle-blower, reported the story, and protected their source. What else could they have done? If whistle-blowers were better protected, this kind of witch hunt could not occur. The only mistake the BBC made, probably to further shield their source, was to misidentify him as an intelligence official, but that in no way led to his death. In fact, the main cause for what happened appears to be Campbell's decision to blow the whole matter out of proportion in order to direct the attention of the public away from the Blair government. Glenda Jackson hit the nail on the head when she said that Kelly was:

    "sacrificed as a result of a quite deliberate political strategy to afford a smoke screen for the government, who were having difficulty in giving straight answers to serious questions as to whether they have used or misused intelligence."

    It is interesting to watch the power games that are playing out in the British press. It is the Guardian which is trying to undermine the BBC's case, probably seeing this whole episode as a veiled attack on the Labour Party, which the left-wing Guardian is trying to protect.

  8. The Official Story appears to be that Kelly was depressed at the treatment he had received from the British government, and feared losing the Iraq inspection job he loved so much. He therefore went for a walk, took some painkillers, and slashed his left wrist, bleeding to death. There are many reasons why this story makes no sense (for even more, see here and here). Kelly had just gotten through the hard part, and the questioning had not impugned his credibility. He had recently written of how he was looking forward to returning to his job in Iraq. Slashing of wrists is not a normal way for an adult male to kill himself, and Kelly was smart enough to have known some less messy and painful ways. For one thing, the painkiller he had, if taken in a large enough dose, is a common method of committing suicide (so common that there have been calls in Britain for there to be more restrictions on the prescribing of this particular medication; note also that the press stories proclaimed that Kelly had taken the painkillers before the authorities could have done the tests to determine if that was true). His body placement was also odd. From television pictures, I note that his body was found in an open area a few feet away from a heavily wooded area. It appeared to be an odd place to choose to die, but exactly the kind of place you might end up being caught if you were being pursued through the woods and headed across the field.

  9. Kelly, in an e-mail to Judith Miller (!), spoke of "many dark actors playing games" (assuming we can trust what Judith Miller says). Someone could have phoned him to suggest a very private talk at a secluded place in the woods. Kelly walked there, seeming normal and happy to those who saw him. When he got to the meeting place, he was pursued and murdered, with the drugs and knife planted on the scene. The slashing of the left wrist may have symbolic connotations.

  10. Who were the "many dark actors playing games" and why did they benefit from the murder of David Kelly? My guess would be extreme right-wingers in the deep recesses of the British bureaucracy, either in defense or intelligence. By offing Kelly in this way they:

    • punish a traitor to the conservative cause (Kelly was, after all, one of them);

    • discourage other whistle blowers;

    • stop the British search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction by removing its leader, as the search is a waste of time and is just continuing for the partisan purposes of the Labour Party; and

    • deeply embarrass the Labour government, with the hopes to a return to their preferred rule by Tories.

    Blair's incompetent spinners are playing right into their hands.

I don't wish to downplay the culpability of the Blair government in the death of David Kelly. In one way or another they are directly responsible for his death, and they are all completely covered in his blood. In particular, Alastair Campbell, for his crude attempts at misdirection to spin himself and the government out of trouble, and Andrew Mackinlay, in his thuggish questioning of Kelly, might as well have slit his wrist themselves. They either caused a suicide or created the situation where a suicide could be easily faked. The essential problem is their overweening arrogance, the idea that no one dare raise the issue that they might not be entirely right about everything they do. This appears to derive from the weird messianic symptoms that both Bush and Blair are exhibiting, the madness of megalomania.