TINAF SPECIAL: U.S./U.K. "Intelligence Dossier" Plagiarism
The Internet Anti-Fascist: Thursday, 6 February 2003
Vol. 7, Number 14 (#747)
SPECIAL ON U.S./U.K. "INTELLIGENCE DOSSIER" PLAGIARISM
01) Julian Rush (ABC News 4), "Downing St dossier plagiarised," 6 Jan
02) Reuters, "Britain stands by Iraq report after accusations of
plagiarism," 7 Feb 03
03) [British] ITV, "Government plagiarised Iraq data," 7 Feb 02
04) Stephen Fidler (Financial Times), "UK document on Iraq 'a hasty cut
and paste job'," 6 Feb 03
01) Downing St dossier plagiarised
Julian Rush (ABC News 4)
6 Jan 03
The government's carefully co-ordinated propaganda offensive took an
embarrassing hit tonight after Downing Street was accused of plagiarism.
The target is an intelligence dossier released on Monday and heralded by
none other than Colin Powell at the UN yesterday.
Channel Four News has learnt that the bulk of the nineteen page document
was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate
On Monday, the day before the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell addressed
the UN, Downing Street published its latest paper on Iraq.
It gives the impression of being an up to the minute intelligence-based
analysis - and Mr Powell was fulsome in his praise.
Published on the Number 10 web site, called "Iraq - Its Infrastructure of
Concealment Deception and Intimidation", it outlines the structure of
Saddam's intelligence organisations.
But it made familiar reading to Cambridge academic Glen Ranwala. It was
copied from an article last September in a small journal: the Middle East
Review of International Affairs.
It's author, Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student from Monterey in
California. Large sections do indeed appear, verbatim.
A section, for example, six paragraphs long, on Saddam's Special Security
Organisation, the exact same words are in the Californian student's paper.
In several places Downing Street edits the originals to make more sinister
Number 10 says the Mukhabarat - the main intelligence agency - is "spying
on foreign embassies in Iraq".
The original reads: "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq."
And the provocative role of "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile
regimes" has a weaker, political context in the original: "aiding
opposition groups in hostile regimes."
Even typographic mistakes in the original articles are repeated.
Of military intelligence, al-Marashi writes in his original paper:
"The head of military intelligence generally did not have to be a relative
of Saddam's immediate family, nor a Tikriti. Saddam appointed, Sabir Abd
Al-Aziz Al-Duri as head..." Note the comma after appointed.
Downing Street paraphrases the first sentence: "Saddam appointed, Sabir
'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri as head during the 1991 Gulf War."
This second line is cut and pasted, complete with the same grammatical
plagiarism is regarded as intellectual theft.
Government dossier: (page 13), published Jan 2003
"Saddam appointed, Sabir 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri as head during the 1991 Gulf
War. After the Gulf War he was replaced by Wafiq Jasim al-Samarrai.
After Samarrai, Muhammad Nimah al-Tikriti headed Al-Istikhbarat al-
Askariyya in early 1992 then in late 1992 Fanar Zibin Hassan al-Tikriti was
appointed to this post.
These shifting appointments are part of Saddam's policy of balancing
security positions. By constantly shifting the directors of these agencies,
no one can establish a base in a security organisation for a substantial
period of time. No one becomes powerful enough to challenge the President."
al-Marashi document: (section: "MILITARY INTELLIGENCE", published sept 2002
- relevant parts have been underlined
Saddam appointed, Sabir 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Duri(80) as head of Military
Intelligence during the 1991 Gulf War.(81) After the Gulf War he was
replaced by Wafiq Jasim al-Samarrai.(82)
After Samarrai, Muhammad Nimah al-Tikriti(83) headed Military Intelligence
in early 1992(84) then in late 1992 Fanar Zibin Hassan al-Tikriti was
appointed to this post.(85) While Fanar is from Tikrit, both Sabir al-Duri
and Samarrai are non-Tikriti Sunni Muslims, as their last names suggest.
Another source indicates that Samarrai was replaced by Khalid Salih al-
Juburi,(86) demonstrating how another non-Tikriti, but from the tribal
alliance that traditionally support the regime holds top security positions
These shifting appointments are part of Saddam's policy of balancing
security positions between Tikritis and non-Tikritis, in the belief that
the two factions would not unite to overthrow him. Not only that, but by
constantly shifting the directors of these agencies, no one can establish a
base in a security organization for a substantial period of time, that
would challenge the President.(88)
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02) Britain stands by Iraq report after accusations of plagiarism
7 Feb 03
LONDON -- Britain today said it stood by an intelligence dossier on Iraq,
after academics said whole passages had been lifted from magazine articles,
complete with spelling mistakes.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell drew attention to a British dossier on
Iraq during his presentation to the UN Security Council yesterday. The
British dossier says it is compiled from intelligence material "and other
Several academics came forward today saying they recognised most of the
British dossier as lifted, verbatim, from articles published in the US
journal the Middle East Review of International Affairs and in Jane's
In some cases the dossier included punctuation and spelling mistakes copied
from the original articles.
"This appears to be obsolete academic analysis dressed up as the best MI6
and our other international partners can produce on Saddam," analyst Dan
Plesch of the Royal United Services Institute said on Channel Four news.
However, a British government spokesman maintained that the report was
accurate and said the government had never claimed all the material was
from its spies.
"We consider the text as published to be accurate," he said.
"As the report itself makes clear, it was drawn from a number of sources,
including intelligence material. It does not identify or credit any
sources, but nor does it claim any exclusivity of authorship."
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03) Government plagiarised Iraq data
7 Feb 02
Number 10 has been accused of "scandalously" plagiarising data from 1991
for use in its latest dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein.
On Monday, the Government released a 19-page intelligence document designed
to help win over sceptics by detailing Iraq's alleged efforts to hide its
weapons of mass destruction.
However, Channel 4 News has claimed the document - hailed by Colin Powell
at the UN yesterday - was mostly copied from three different articles - one
of them allegedly written by a postgraduate student.
The article's original author is Ibrahim al-Marashi, from Monterey,
California, the programme said. He was researching documents relating to
the build-up to the 1991 Gulf War and not to the current situation, it was
Channel 4 News reported that Glen Rangwala, an academic at Cambridge
University, spotted that large chunks of the student's paper had been
copied to form parts of the No 10 dossier called Iraq - Its Infrastructure
of Concealment Deception and Intimidation.
The programme said one six-paragraph section of the Downing Street document
that detailed Saddam's special security organisation had been lifted from
the student's article.
Channel 4 News' website detailed the alleged plagiarism: "No 10 says the
Mukhabarat - the main intelligence agency - is `spying on foreign embassies
in Iraq'. The original reads: `monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq.'
"And the provocative role of `supporting terrorist organisations in hostile
regimes' has a weaker, political context in the original: `aiding
opposition groups in hostile regimes.'
"Even typographic mistakes in the original articles are repeated."
Dan Plesch, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute
for Defence Studies in London, told the programme that the Government's
alleged plagiarism was "scandalous".
A Downing Street spokesman has insisted that the dossier is "accurate" and
that the Government had never claimed exclusive authorship.
"The report was put together by a range of government officials," he said.
"We consider the text as published to be accurate."
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04) UK document on Iraq 'a hasty cut and paste job'
Stephen Fidler (Financial Times)
6 Feb 03
LONDON -- A British government document on Iraq praised this week by US
Secretary of State Colin Powell contains factual errors and has been
described as a "cut and paste job" by researchers.
The document, released at the weekend, was meant to highlight Iraq's
efforts to deceive weapons inspectors. But large sections were drawn
without attribution from three articles on Iraq's security services, one of
which was published in 1997.
In his address to the United Nations on Wednesday, Mr Powell described the
document as "a fine paper... which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi
Yet in one section, the UK document describes the Iraqi Military Security
Service as having been established in 1992 - and as having moved to a new
headquarters two years earlier in 1990.
Glen Rangwala, a politics lecturer at Cambridge University, who uncovered
the errors, said officials had apparently incorrectly copied part of a
document related to one security service in a section devoted to another.
Copying the three articles - Mr Rangwala called it "plagiarism" - has also
resulted in different spellings for Arabic names, including the Ba'ath
Party, he said.
A Downing Street spokesman said it stood by the document, which described
itself as drawing upon "a number of sources including inteligence
material". He would not say who compiled it.
An author of one of the reports used as a source, Ibrahim al-Marashi, a
research associate at the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies in Monterey,
California, said: "I know it's cut and paste because they have copied a lot
of my mistakes." He said he had rushed the article to the publisher, the
Middle East Review of International Affairs.
Asked if he objected to being used in a propaganda effort, Mr al-Marashi
said: "Only if I don't get proper attribution."
The UK document, released to journalists and published on Downing Street's
website, also copied most of a diagram Mr al-Marashi said had taken months
of research - without attribution or permission.
Two other researchers were also quoted extensively: 1997 articles by Sean
Boyne and a 2002 article by Ken Gause, both of which appeared in Jane's
Intelligence Review. Chris Aaron, editor of the review, said it was not
unusual for UK governments to use a combination of publicly-available
material with some intelligence information - but the mistakes raised
questions about how carefully the document had been compiled.
Mr Rangwala said that the UK document had also altered wordings and rounded
up numbers to make its claims appear stronger. "It looks like it has been
rushed out by Number 10 to play into the US agenda that inspections cannot
work," he said.
* * * * *
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