Friday, July 11, 2003

Readers from the countries comprising the Coalition of the ready, willing and don't let anyone try to stop us.
Is this a familiar story? (updated)

Iraq case stands up without Africa link: PM

Prime Minister John Howard denies that disproven allegations that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa were a key element of the Australian case for war.

The Prime Minister added, "Saying that would be like suggesting that never ever implementing a GST was a key element in my election campaign. Some people seem to be obsessed with drawing these silly longbows of mass destruction."

The Office of National Assessments (ONA) has released a statement revealing it knew there were doubts about the claims in January but did not inform the Government.

Mr Howard made reference to the Iraq-African connection in a speech to federal Parliament a month later.

Mr Howard says he retains full confidence in the ONA.

Later Mr. Howard expanded on his statement saying, "I believe that the ONA is the best scapegoat that a threat to career paths and money can buy. Just because it failed every test of competency and accountability is of no matter at all. The point is that it has again taken a fall for me. You can't buy loyalty like that, well not for peanuts at least. And no, I would never, never shoot the messenger, if the messenger chooses to run on its own sword ... well, is that my fault?"

"The ONA have made a statement, they've explained what happened," he said.

ONA press liaison officeress, Helen Keller explained that the ONA's guide dog had been diagnosed with foot and mouth disease and had to be put down and was therefore unavailable for sighting and assessment of the intelligence that fell off the back of an email. Compounding this problem was the malicious hacking of the jam tins and pieces of string communications software that connects ONA with the Office of the Prime Minister. This action seriously compromised the information that ultimately had to be sent to the Prime Minister written on the shirt cuff of Bert the ONA cleaner who had arranged to pick up Ronnie the PM's cleaner after work for a beer or 12.

Further, once you start passing on information you become vulnerable to the problem of Chinese whispers. An ONA officer receives information from the American State Department. That officer passes the information on to a security analyst who writes a report for the Attorney General, who then conveys this information onto the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then presents this information to the Parliament. No wonder our dossier which contained simple advice to the Prime Minister that he should stop responding to Nigerian email scams was eventually presented to the Parliament in the form that has been widely reported."

"The important point to make is that the material would not have in any way, had it been in my possession prior to the last few days, would not have affected our decision."

But the Opposition says it is a mystery why the ONA failed to pass on the information.

Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says Mr Howard's credibility on Iraq is in question.

"Mr Howard has a record as far as dealing with the truth on national security and border security questions," he said.

"We saw Mr Howard's performance on the question of children overboard or truth overboard.

"Are we seeing a repeat of the same thing now as far as the Iraq war is concerned? Mr Howard has some very big questions to answer."

ALP leader aspirant and plotter Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd added, "In particular we want to know what the PM knew and when didn't he know it."


In a radio interview this morning, the Prime Minister was asked whether he retained confidence in ONA, he replied: "That is a generic thing (A No Name brand el cheapo security service?!) that doesn't mean that they don't make a mistake...You form a generic sense of (judgement) on people."

Declaring the issue "blown out of all proportion", he went on to declare his confidence in "the credibility, honesty, trustworthiness of ONA"

"If ONA was in error, it was a failing of judgement not a failing of integrity.”

Apparently no matter how hopelessly inept the ONA, as long as it has its heart in the right place and takes the flak, then it's all tickety-boo.

Frigging hell! This IS the Office of National Assessment which is supposed to keep an eye on nasty bastards who want do blow up innocent Australians They are supposed to be ensuring that we can all sleep safely in our beds at night.


Now that the ONA has been dobbed in by the Man of Steel as "lacking judgment", how much credibility can be attached to future ONA reports?

Further into his weaseling out defence, the Man of Steel says he has "been told by ONA that the reference to the State Department doubts is about one sentence in an annex to an 86 page document".

86 pages of dense analysis in which the sentence "Oh by the way, all that stuff about Saddam getting penny bungers from Niger is a load of cobblers" can be so easily overlooked or ignored.

It begs the question of if it's worthwhile getting the faithful chaps at ONA to bang out a 86 page document, it might be worth reading every word of it. Bugger it I had to read "War and Peace" for English Lit. (Oh, that it were only 86 pages!) and there were questions asked in class when I had finished reading it. Every page of it, John.

GIVE US A BREAK, MAN OF STEEL! We're not all as stupid as the ONA staff appear to be, nor are we as gullible as you like to think we are.

I suspect you are in desperate need a bit of reliable information John, so this tip is on the house. My goldfish (who is as dumb as dog shit but whose heart is in the right place) has it on good authority that the WMDs are hidden in ... wait for it ... Niger.

For your information Goldie has underlined the relevant sentence in his report (the 3 page ONA director's cut for your short attention span convenience) with his waterproof fluoro highlighter.

Let me tell you ... I am seriously shocked and awed by all these shenanigans!

... and related news The CIA let me say it and then ran away, but Condie says the White House "absolutely" had confidence in CIA director George Tenet, saying he had served "very well". Everybody loves a fall guy.