Index
Date: 06 February 2003 14:24 +0000
From: Mike Lewis [email protected]

Release:  Government 'intelligence' report on Iraq revealed as 
plagiarism

The British government's latest report on Iraq's non-compliance with 
weapons inspections, which claims to draw on "intelligence material", 
has been revealed as a wholesale plagiarism of three old and 
publicly-available articles, one of them by a graduate student in 
California. The compiler did not even clean up the typos or 
standardize the spelling.

The dossier, released by the British government on Monday, is entitled
"Iraq - Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And 
Intimidation". It is reproduced online at 
http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7111.asp (references below to 
page numbers relate to the downloadable Word version).

The first sentence of the document claims that it draws "upon a number
of sources, including intelligence material".

This is somewhat misleading.

The bulk of the 19-page document (pp.6-16) is directly copied without 
acknowledgement from an article in last September's Middle East Review
of International Affairs entitled "Iraq's Security and Intelligence
Network: A Guide and Analysis".

http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2002/issue3/jv6n3a1.html

The author of the piece is Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student 
at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He has confirmed 
that his permission was not sought; in fact, he didn't even know about
the British document until Glen Rangwala, a Cambridge-based Iraq 
analyst, mentioned it to him.

Apart from the obvious criticism that the British government has 
plagiarised texts without acknowledgement, passing them off as the 
work of its intelligence services, there are two further serious 
problems. Firstly, it suggests that the UK at least may not have any 
independent sources of information on Iraq's internal politics - they 
just draw upon publicly available data. If they do have independent 
sources, their intelligence is not being used in the government's 
public 'case for war'. Thus any further claims to information based on
"intelligence data" must be treated with even more scepticism.

Secondly, the information presented as being an accurate statement of 
the current state of Iraq's security organisations may not be anything
of the sort. Marashi - the real and unwitting author of much of the 
document - has as his primary source the documents captured in 1991 
for the Iraq Research and Documentation Project. His own focus is the 
activities of Iraq's intelligence agencies in Kuwait, Aug90-Jan91 - 
this is the subject of his thesis. As a result, the information 
presented as relevant to how Iraqi agencies are currently engaged with
Unmovic is 12 years old.

It's quite striking that even Marashi's typographical errors and 
anomolous uses of grammar are incorporated into the Downing Street 
document. For example, on p.13, the British dossier incorporates a 
misplaced comma:

   "Saddam appointed, Sabir 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri as head"..

Likewise, Marashi's piece also states:

   "Saddam appointed, Sabir 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri as head"..

The other sources that are extensively plagiarised in the document are
two authors from Jane's Intelligence Review:

   Ken Gause (an international security analyst from Alexandria, 
   Virginia), "Can the Iraqi Security Apparatus save Saddam" (November 
   2002), pp.8-13.

   Sean Boyne, "Inside Iraq's Security Network", in 2 parts during 1997.

None of the sources are acknowledged, leading the reader to believe 
that the information is a result of direct investigative work, rather 
than simply copied from pre-existing internet sources.

The fact that the texts of these three authors are copied directly 
results in a proliferation of different transliterations (eg different
spellings of Ba'th, depending on which author is being copied).

There are two types of changes incorporated into the British document.

Firstly, numbers are increased or are rounded up. So, for example, the
section on "Fedayeen Saddam" (pp.15-16) is directly copied from Boyne,
almost word for word. The only substantive difference is that Boyne 
estimates the personnel of the organisation to be 18,000-40,000 (Gause
similarly estimates 10-40,000). The British dossier instead writes 
"30,000 to 40,000". A similar bumping up of figures occurs with the 
description of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

The second type of change in the British dossier is that it replaces 
particular words to make the claim sound stronger. So, for example, 
most of p.9 on the functions of the Mukhabarat is copied directly from
Marashi's article, except that when Marashi writes of its role in

   "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq"

this becomes in the British dossier:

   "spying on foreign embassies in Iraq".

Similarly, on that same page, whilst Marashi writes of the Mukhabarat:

   "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes"

- the British dossier renders this as:

   "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes".

Furher examples from the section on "Fedayeen Saddam" include how a 
reference to how, in Boyne's original text, its personnel are

   "recruited from regions loyal to Saddam", referring to their original 
    grouping as "some 10,000-15,000 'bullies and country bumpkins.'"

becomes in the British government's text a reference to how its 
personnel are:

   "press ganged from regions known to be loyal to Saddam" ... "some 
   10,000-15,000 bullies."

Clearly, a reference to the "country bumpkins" would not have the 
rhetorical effect that the British government was aiming for.

Finally, there is one serious substantive mistake in the British text,
in that it muddles up Boyne's description of General Security (al-Amn 
al-Amm), and places it in its section on p.14 of Military Security 
(al-Amn al-Askari). The result is complete confusion: it starts on 
p.14 by relating how Military Security was created in 1992 (in a piece
copied from Marashi), then goes onto talk about the movement of its 
headquarters - in 1990 (in a piece copied from Boyne on the activities
of General Security). The result is that it gets the description of 
the Military Security Service wholly wrong, claiming that its head is 
Taha al-Ahbabi (whilst really he was head of General Security in 1997;
Military Security was headed by Thabet Khalil).

For reference, here are a few other summary comments on the British 
document.

Official authors are (in Word Properties) P. Hamill, J. Pratt, A. 
Blackshaw, and M. Khan.

p.1 is the summary.

pp.2-5 are a repetition of Blix's comments to the Security Council on 
the difficulties they were encountering, with further claims about the
activities of al-Mukhabarat. These are not backed up, eg the claim 
that car crashes are organised to prevent the speedy arrival of 
inspectors.

p.6 is a simplified version of Marashi's diagram at: 
http://cns.miis.edu/research/iraq/pdfs/iraqint.pdf

p.7 is copied (top) from Gause (on the Presidential Secretariat), and 
(middle and bottom) from Boyne (on the National Security Council).

p.8 is entirely copied from Boyne (on the National Security Council).

p.9 is copied from Marashi (on al-Mukhabarat), except for the final 
section, which is insubstantial.

p.10 is entirely copied from Marashi (on General Security), except for
the final section, which is insubstantial.

p.11 is entirely copied from Marashi (on Special Security), except for
the top section (on General Security), which is insubstantial.

p.12 is entirely copied from Marashi (on Special Security).

p.13 is copied from Gause (on Special Protection) and Marashi 
(Military Intelligence).

p.14 is wrongly copied from Boyne (on Military Security) and from 
Marashi (on the Special Republican Guard).

p.15 is copied from Gause and Boyne (on al-Hadi project / project 
858).

pp.15-16 is copied from Boyne (on Fedayeen Saddam).

A final section, on the Tribal Chiefs' Bureau, seems to be copied from
a different piece by Cordesman.

For more information please contact Glen Rangwala
+44(0)1223 335759 or [email protected]