Thursday, September 18, 2003
Errors? Or lies?: The difference between the two is intent. An error is unintentional. A lie is not. So, what is a viewer to believe when the BBC's Andrew Gilligan, the man who told BBC World Service listeners that U.S. troops weren't at the Baghdad airport when they actually were, says that he made a "slip of the tongue" which just happened to perfectly coincide with his anti-war ideology.
Questioned by government lawyer Jonathan Sumption, Gilligan admitted a "slip of the tongue" in his report, subsequently failing to alert BBC bosses when his error got repeated, and losing notes of a key meeting.
But he stood by his argument that there had been misgivings among intelligence officials about a dossier on Iraq's weapons, published by Tony Blair's government in September 2002.
Later, Richard Sambrook, the BBC's head of news, admitted there had been errors in BBC statements following Gilligan's report as a row developed with Blair's office.
He said the BBC should have taken longer examining the issues and that Gilligan's radio report should have been approved by lawyers first.
In his May 29 broadcast, Gilligan said an unnamed senior British intelligence official alleged that Blair's office inserted a claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes' notice, when it knew the information was probably wrong.
Appearing at the inquiry for a second time Wednesday, Gilligan said he had not intended to give the impression the government had lied.
"The allegation I intended to make was a spin. I do regret those words ... and I shouldn't have used them."
Gilligan also admitted he was wrong to describe the scientist as a "member of the intelligence services" in his report.
The unfortunate thing is that the BBC waited until one man was dead and their lies became transparent before admitting those "slips of the tongue."
Skepticism is warranted when the source is the BBC.
On a related note: Union-Tribune columnist James Goldsborough, twice opined on the issue, defending the BBC's reporting and blamed the British government for going on a witch hunt. The most recent, published Monday, fails to acknowledge the lies of "one of the world's great news organizations." Instead, Goldsborough accuses the British government for the death of David Kelly, not the BBC and Andrew Gilligan's admitted "spin." Goldsborough also levels the charge that some Brits were pressured to "distort intelligence." Of course, there's no word where specifically the "pressure" came from, nor that the "pressure" was in any way successful.
One wonders if Goldsborough would be so forgiving if the offending network was...say...Fox News.
No, I don't think so either.