Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I SHOUTED OUT, WHO KILLED DAVE KELLEY?/WHEN AFTER ALL, IT WAS THE BBC! Shit floats. The nutty idea raised by Andrew Sullivan yesterday has risen to the status of a new Right-wing meme: the BBC killed David Kelley by exposing the reluctant whistleblower to the wrath of the Blair Government. Here, the New York Post parrots:

BBC officials refused to disclose their source, but said the story was based on "one senior and credible source in the intelligence services."

An understandably outraged Blair ordered an investigation, which quickly focused on Kelly, a microbiologist involved in the search for WMD.

Ordered to testify before a House of Commons panel, he insisted he couldn't have been the source - because he hadn't said anything remotely like what Gilligan reported.

"From [our] conversation, I don't see how he could make the authoritative statement he was making," said Kelly.

But when Kelly - obviously distraught over having been thrust into the limelight - took his own life last week, the BBC confessed that he had, in fact, been the network's source.

Problem is, Kelly was never in the intelligence services. Nor was he "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier."

And, as he himself insisted just days before his death, he'd never said what the BBC claimed he said.

Indeed, if anyone is guilty of having "sexed up" the information it gave the public, it's the BBC - not Tony Blair.

Two things jump out. First, there is some debate as to how the reporter actually characterized Kelley's role. This will probably be clarified soon enough in England, but by then the perpetrators of the current anti-BBC story, having milked it for all its stateside value, will have moved on to some other outrage, obviating any need for retraction that may arise among those few Americans who give a shit about British politics.

Secondly, this interpretation asks us to believe that when and if the Beeb misrepresented Kelley, he thereafter had no chance of a fair hearing by the Blairites, hence the suicidal despair. Given that Kelley, in this imagining, would be extremely useful to the Blair government in denying the BBC story, why would they not then clamp him lovingly to their breast? Isn't it more likely that Kelley, finding himself a major figure in what is turning out to be the biggest British Government scandal since Profumo, got cold feet?

The truth of this case may be unknowable, but we may know that certain explanations are not only unlikely, but perfidious.

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