The use made in the dossier of
Mr Marashi's published work
123. Ibrahim al-Marashi is an American citizen of
Iraqi origin. A Research Associate at the Center for Nonproliferation
Studies (CNS) of the Monterey Institute of International Studies,
his work has focused on the diffusion of nuclear, biological,
and chemical weapons and missile technologies in the Middle East,
particularly Iraq and Iran. Prior to joining CNS, Mr Marashi worked
with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University
on a project classifying captured Iraqi state documents. He has
also been a researcher on Iran-Iraq affairs at the US State Department,
Congressional Research Service, and National Defense University.
He is now a DPhil student at St Antony's College, Oxford.
124. In 2002, Mr Marashi published an article in
the journal Middle East Review of International Affairs,
MERIA, based on his analysis of Iraqi intelligence documents captured
in the Gulf War.
It was this article which formed the basis of part 2 of the 'dodgy
dossier', as Alastair Campbell confirmed when he appeared before
the Foreign Office research department sent
this journal from September 2002 by Dr al-Marashi, who you interviewed
recently. That then went to the CIC. At that point within the
CIC work from that paper was taken and absorbed into the draft
that was being prepared within the CIC.
125. Finding the article was not exactly an exercise
in advanced detective work. As Mr Marashi told us:
The only way I can infer they got hold of this article
was that not only is it published in the Middle East Review of
International Affairs but there is also an on-line version. If
one were to do an internet search of Iraqi intelligence agencies
on any of the web browsers my article is the first to come up.
Basically, it was one of the first articles ever written compiling
all the open source information on Iraq's intelligence agencies,
so on any kind of internet service this would be the first article
that would come up. I had reason to believe that the internet
version of this article was consulted for the dossier released
in February 2003 because grammatical mistakes made on the internet
version ended up in this February 2003 document
In his written evidence, Dr Glen Rangwala of Newnham
College, Cambridge, has shown how Mr Marashi's work was altered
in a number of particulars:
For example, most of p.9 on the functions of the
Mukhabarat (General Intelligence) is copied directly from Mr Marashi's
article. However, Marashi writes of the Mukhabarat's role in:
"monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq".
This becomes in the British dossier:
"spying on foreign embassies in Iraq".
Similarly, on the same page, Marashi writes that
the Mukhabarat had a role in:
"aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes"
The British dossier renders this as:
"supporting terrorist organisations in hostile
These were clearly changes of substance. Mr Marashi
told us they were not supported by his research: "the alterations
were not accurate and those alterations changed the meaning of
126. Mr Campbell and Ministers maintain that, although
the changes may not be supported by Mr Marashi's work, they did
reflect intelligence assessments and they were accurate.
However, in one further change, the Government confused two separate
Iraqi security organisations, the Military Security Service and
the Iraqi General Security Service. As Mr Straw said when confronted
with this, it is hardly a hanging offence.
But Mr Straw here missed the point: as he had earlier acknowledged,
quite minor mistakes of this kind undermine confidence in the
Government's presentation of its case more generally.
Mr Marashi has also accused those responsible for the dossier
of "distorting the intent" behind his work.
127. Not only was Mr Marashi's work altered in ways
which changed its meaning, it was used without attribution. This,
Mr Campbell has acknowledged, was the "error" and the
"mistake" made in the CIC.
Once it had been made, all those involved subsequently were unaware
of the source of the material, but assumed it to have been produced
somewhere within the Government machine.
It was in itself a small mistake, but its consequences were significant,
and it should not have occurred.
128. No-one asked Mr Marashi for permission to use
his work. No-one informed him that it would be used, and even
altered, a fact which Clare Short finds "shameful" and
We asked Mr Marashi how he came to hear that his work had been
borrowed by the British Government:
I found out through an e-mail by Glen Rangwala from
Cambridge. He asked me if I had collaborated with this dossier.
I said I was not even aware of this dossier. In fact, he was the
one who sent me the text of the dossier I have here, so it was
not until he had sent it that I was made aware of this document.
I was made aware of the similarities. I did not take any action
beyond that. I just compared the documents, knew there was a plagiarism,
but I just left it at that. Given the fact that I had relatives
back in Iraq I do not want to bring attention to this. The story
developed a life of its own in the UK and so by Thursday, I believe
it was February 7, I saw the story break on the internet and then
it took off from there.
129. Once the story broke, Mr Marashi gave press
interviews, but he had misgivings about his new high profile.
He feared that a link between his work and a document closely
associated with the British Government's policy on Iraq could
endanger his relatives:
the biggest fear I had out of this whole story
breaking out was that I am an Iraqi myself and when I wrote this
article I did not think it would get much of a circulation, maybe
5,000 people at the most, people in the Middle East academic community.
What the events have done to me around February and March was
that basically they connected me to the British case for going
to war and, having relatives in Iraq with my last name connected
to me in the UK would have been disastrous for them. I have already
lost two relatives to the Saddam regime. Any connection now between
me and the UK Government and the case for going to war would have
had a disastrous effect on my family back home. That was my biggest
regret out of this entire affair.
130. Mr Marashi told us that he had received no apology,
nor had any contact from the British Government of any kind.
Subsequently, Jack Straw apologised to Mr Marashi before the Committee
on behalf of the Government; and Alastair Campbell undertook to
apologise in writing.
We welcome this belated recognition by the Government, under pressure
from this Committee, that they did Mr Marashi a grave disservice
by using his work without permission and without attribution,
and by altering it without making clear where and how it had been
131. Notwithstanding the apologies which have now
been made, we remain concerned about the fate of Mr Marashi's
extended family in Iraq. We
recommend that the Government offer every assistance to Mr Marashi
in tracing his relatives in Iraq.
"A glorious, spectacular
132. In the House on 3 February 2003, the day of
publication of the 'dodgy dossier', the Prime Minister said
We issued further intelligence over the weekend about
the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when
we publish intelligence reports, but I hope that people have some
sense of the integrity of our security services. They are not
publishing this, or giving us this information, and making it
up. It is the intelligence that they are receiving, and we are
passing it on to people. In the dossier that we published last
year, and again in the material that we put out over the weekend,
it is very clear that a vast amount of concealment and deception
is going on.
133. The intelligence material on Iraq's obstruction
of UNMOVIC inspectors which provoked the idea of what became the
'dodgy dossier' was provided to the Iraq Communications Group
and cleared for public use by the Secret Intelligence Service
(MI6), without clearance by the Joint Intelligence Committee.
This procedure was inadequate, as Sir Michael Jay told us:
I think, as I said, that the way in which this particular
document was prepared was faulty, and I think we all accept that,
and we have taken steps and done all we can to ensure that that
does not happen again, and, in a sense, it is always useful to
learn lessons from mistakes.
Henceforth, the JIC will have to approve for publication
any document which includes intelligence-derived information.
We welcome this sensible change.
134. It was Robin Cook who described the February
dossier as "a glorious, spectacular own goal."
Other witnesses used less colourful language, but agreed that
publishing the dossier was a mistake, which severely damaged the
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has said that the document
should not have been published at all,
a sentiment shared by the Foreign Secretary and Mr Campbell.
Jack Straw went further and called it "a complete Horlicks."
The Prime Minister referred to "the mistake of not attributing
Mr Campbell has admitted that "It should not have happened
in the way that it did."
He has to take responsibility for that, because it was done under
135. From the evidence provided, it seems safe to
say that Mr Campbell did not intentionally contribute to Parliament
being misinformed. However, it was Mr Campbell's responsibility
to ensure that, when providing such a pivotal document, sufficient
attention to detail was paid. He failed to do so, thereby committing
a mistake. By the same token, the danger is that future JIC dossiers
will be received with increased scepticism. The bar to misleading
Parliament could have easily been overstepped
136. We conclude
that the effect of the February dossier was almost wholly counter-productive.
By producing such a document the Government undermined the credibility
of their case for war and of the other documents which were part
137. We further
conclude that by referring to the document on the floor of the
House as "further intelligence" the Prime Ministerwho
had not been informed of its provenance, doubts about which only
came to light several days latermisrepresented its status
and thus inadvertently made a bad situation worse.
138. We conclude
that it is wholly unacceptable for the Government to plagiarise
work without attribution and to amend it without either highlighting
the amendments or gaining the assent of the original author. We
further conclude that it was fundamentally wrong to allow such
a document to be presented to Parliament and made widely available
without ministerial oversight.
139. We recommend
that any paper presented to Parliamentwhether laid on the
Table, made available in the Vote Office or placed in the Libraryfor
the purpose of explaining the Government's foreign policy be signed
off by a FCO Minister. We further recommend that any FCO document
presented to Parliament which draws on unofficial sources should
include full transparency of sources, and attribution where appropriate.
156 Q 1045 Back
Ev 7 Back
Qq 900 (Alastair Campbell), 786, 863 (Sir Michael Jay); Ev 10 Back
Q 1004 Back
Q 865 (Sir Michael Jay) Back
Q 867 (Sir Michael Jay) Back
Ev 10 Back
Ev 30. See also Appendix 3, (to be published in Volume III) Back
Ev 47. See also Q 948 (Alastair Campbell) Back
Qq 787, 794, 865 Back
Ev 47 Back
Ev 47 Back
Q 878 (Sir Michael Jay), Q 922 (Alastair Campbell) Back
Q 883 Back
Q 739 (Jack Straw) Back
Qq 928-932 (Alastair Campbell). Back
Q 822 (Jack Straw), Ev 7 Back
Ev 7 Back
Q 1013 Back
Q 926 Back
Ibrahim al-Marashi, Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network;
a Guide and Analysis, Middle East Review of International Affairs,
vol 6, No. 3-September 2003, www.meria.idc.ac.il Back
Q 904 Back
Q 662 Back
Ev 22 Back
Q 680 Back
Q 926 (Alastair Campbell), Qq 795, 848, 1049 (Jack Straw) Back
Q 797 Back
Q 795 Back
Q 683 Back
Ev 7, Q 898 Back
Qq 909, 926, 946, 1048 Back
Qq 122, 123 Back
Q 678 Back
Q 668 Back
Qq 666, 668 Back
Qq 851, 1152 Back
HC Deb, 3 February 2003, col 25 Back
Q 939 (Alastair Campbell) Back
Q 895. See also Q 380 (Dame Pauline Neville Jones) Back
Q 10 Back
Q 381 (Dame Pauline Neville Jones) Back
For example, see: Dodgy Iraq dossier was error, says Blunkett,
Daily Telegraph, 9 June 2003 Back
Qq 818, 920 Back
Q 818 Back
HC Deb, 24 June 2003, col 1046 Back
Q 920 Back