Sunday 9 February 2003

First casualties in the propaganda firefight

Late last Tuesday night, a three-page email started circulating among a select group of friends concerned about the impact of sanctions on Iraq.

Full of academic outrage, it explained how the so-called 'secret spy dossier' published last week by the Government as a crucial plank in the argument for why the West should go to war was largely cribbed from an American postgraduate's doctoral thesis - grammatical mistakes and all - based on evidence 12 years out of date.

And, to cap it all, the finished document appeared to have been cobbled together not by Middle East experts, but by the secretary of Alastair Campbell, the Government's chief spin doctor, and some gofers.

It is no surprise, then, that when the email from Glen Rangwala - a 28-year-old Cambridge politics lecturer who stumbled across the plagiarism when he was sent a copy of the dossier by researchers in Sweden - reached two teenage Cambridge students they decided it deserved a wider audience.

One, 19-year-old Daniel O'Huiginn, forwarded the email to journalists.

In the propaganda wars that are now as crucial as any military build-up in the Gulf, Tony Blair last week fell victim to friendly fire.

Full story...