July 18, 2003

The WMD Maelstrom from London:

The WMD Maelstrom from London: Now, A Body

This is spooky. MPs react. More soon.

UPDATE: Here we go. The conspiracy-mongering begins:

"Tory MP Richard Ottaway, a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee which took evidence from Dr David Kelly, the missing MoD adviser, said "This brings now into question this whole regime of spin and manipulation ... by the Government and its advisers.

"This really does bring it home. For this to happen is a ghastly, ghastly tragedy.

He said that if the body found was that of Dr Kelly, "then it is a tragedy, a personal tragedy and I have nothing but the utmost sympathy for his family and friends."

Mr Ottaway said it would be a "tragedy of ghastly proportions" if "political machinations" had resulted in the death of Dr Kelly."

UPDATE: Hyperventilation at the Guardian:

"The government, however, cannot be let off the hook. It has demonstrated a profound contempt for the most basic conventions governing relationships between press and politicians. It is possible that, as a result, a man has died."

Come again? Dr. Kelly's death is a tragedy--but can't be fairly pinned on the Blair government in any manner. If he committed suicide because of pressures related to his testimony, we can all deeply regret that, but not blame Labour MPs who weren't even questioning him that aggressively. Here's likely what amounted to the most contentious exchange. Hardly brutal stuff, no?

Meanwhile BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan is entering hyperbolic whine stage:

"Mr Gilligan accused the committee of carrying out "a planned ambush by a hanging jury". He said: "The committee was absolutely determined to find fault with my story. They did not do so. I defended my journalism with vigour. I am very shocked at the way this inquiry has now been turned and perverted into part of the Alastair Campbell witch-hunt against me."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Warren's Hoge's NYT version on Kelly's death. More sober than the Independent's or Guardian's coverage but still ends thus:

"The campaign to discredit Mr. Gilligan and by extension the BBC's reporting of the war in Iraq and the accusations that intelligence might have been doctored drew a characteristically combative performance by Mr. Campbell, a man with a bullying reputation and a fierce loyalty to Mr. Blair.

Attention will now focus on whether his handling of Dr. Kelly played a role in the scientist's fate."

C'mon folks. Alistair Campbell isn't responsible for this tragic death.

READER FEEDBACK: Some readers have written in suggesting my take on the Kelly suicide is a bit on the callous side. Let me say this. Like all reasonable observers--I'm deeply saddened by the suicide of this public servant and my thoughts are with his wife and his daughters.

But I'm disturbed by the media's knee-jerk reaction that seems to pin responsibility on Blair, the Ministry of Defense, or Alistair Campbell. We need to hit the pause button and await the results of Hutton's inquiry. But there is no reason to use this unfortunate suicide as a reason to have a full-blown inquiry per IDS's request.

Meanwhile, while I await the results of the inquiry, my take on this is close to what Stephen Pollard has written. Which is why I'm disturbed that the media is mostly beating up on the government while less often talking about the Beeb's role in this tragic affair.

Posted by Gregory at July 18, 2003 12:42 PM
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