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7.2.03

Scholars Hand Out A Hiding To The Not So Intelligent

Academics have debunked the British intelligence report on Iraq which the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, relied on in his address to the United Nations Security Council.

But the British Government says it is standing by the intelligence dossier, even after scholars revealed that entire passages had been lifted from magazine articles, complete with spelling mistakes.

Large parts of the dossier - which claims to have drawn on "intelligence material" - were plagiarised from published academic articles.


Here we see a newspaper engaging in the fabled "taking a stand on an issue of fact" that so many bloggers wish the media would do instead of their more common "he said/he said" relativistic style. But the story goes too far. Demonstrating that the dossier was plagiarized is not the same as debunking it. Even setting aside the nine of 19 pages that were not shown to have been copied from other sources, all that has been shown is that the document is not original -- not that it is not correct. It's an embarrassing bit of dishonesty on the part of the British govenment, and thus encourages skepticism about their pronouncements. But the claims made in the dossier stand or fall on their own merits, not the source of their wording -- unless one wants to claim that the writers of Jane's Intelligence Review and Ibrahim al-Marashi (who wrote the original articles that were plagiarized from) are incompetent scholars.

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