WMD Mole
July 18, 2003 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Dr David Kelly the alleged 'mole' in the WMD row apparently found dead. He was at the centre of the UK Government's row with the BBC over reporter's claim that the Prime Minister's special adviser, Alistair Campbell, sexed up a dossier on Iraqi WMDs by adding a claim that they could be launched in 45 minutes. The Government says there will be an independent judicial review of the WMD affair if the body is Dr Kelly.
posted by brettski (52 comments total)
This story reminds me more than a little of the tactics used by the far-right wing governments of El Salvador and Guatemela, of their reliance on death squad assasinations ( which lately have been on the increase ).

Meanwhile, while Kelly was being murdered, Mr. Blair was giving his resoundingly eloquent paean to the glory of US world domination, before a joint session of the US Congress.

In the war of "Good-vs.-Evil" it's "take no prisoners", eh?
posted by troutfishing at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2003

Is "sexed up" common British usage?
posted by the fire you left me at 7:20 AM on July 18, 2003

Yes it's in common usage, but more often in the future than the past tense. Less well used is the phrase "Complete Horlicks" used by the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to describe the other "dodgy" dossier on WMDs.
posted by brettski at 7:26 AM on July 18, 2003

Of course, he may have just been kidnapped and robbed totally independently of the WMD scandal.. after all, people do get murdered for their personal belongings from time to time. Admittedly, the chance of this is rather slim ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2003

I think that the suspicion is that Dr Kelly took his own life, I do hope that there is nothing even slightly machiavellian in either the MOD's conduct or anyone else for that matter.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:42 AM on July 18, 2003

He's awfully high-profile to have been murdered, and from what I understand, he was a bit of a basketcase during his testimony. This is almost certainly a suicide. It's a shame, though.
posted by jpoulos at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2003

Tend to agree with jpoulos - I'd suspect about the last person anyone connected with this whole affair would want to see dead right now was Dr Kelly - they're in enough trouble already without more conspiracy theorists starting up.....
posted by brettski at 7:52 AM on July 18, 2003

The problem is brettski that our security services and government have shown a tremendous lack of judgement over the past few months. For example, releasing a student thesis and claiming that it is military intelligence and expecting nobody to notice, exaggerating claims about WMD and expecting nobody to notice, lying to parliament and expecting nobody to notice. This coupled with a demonstrable history of assassinations of British citizens and a tendency over the last 20 years for MOD personnel to commit suicide by unconventional means such as shooting themselves in the head multiple times means that foul play could be considered a possibility.
It is inconceivable in my mind though that Blair himself would have anything to do with this. All he really cares about is his place in history. This is not the sort of incident that he would want to be remembered for.

Is "sexed up" common British usage?
Yes it's in common usage.
I beg to differ. I don't recall ever hearing the phrase until a few weeks ago.
posted by chill at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2003

er, Brettski, 'sexed up' has only recently come into common usage in the UK thanks to the whole 'dodgy dossier' debacle.

'Complete Horlicks', altho' not common, has been used - particularly by yer classic public school types - for years.
posted by i_cola at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2003

Indeed, jpoulos and brettski. Before any conspiracy theories get too out of hand, let's recall the cries of "Vince Foster Was Murdered" and how they added nothing but ugliness to the Whitewater debacle.
posted by vraxoin at 8:07 AM on July 18, 2003

from what I understand, he was a bit of a basketcase during his testimony.

I don't know where you got that from, he was nothing of the sort. Despite being under massive pressure and in a situation he certainly wasn't used to, I thought he was calm, sensible and somewhat bemused by the whole affair. A good few questions he gave suggested that it was pointless asking him, he was just a pawn.

The overall impression for me (and most of the committee) was that he was a decent man being 'stitched up' - the word 'scapegoat' was used at least once by the committee.

I'm sure he wasn't murdered but he's the first real casualty of Blair and Campbell's smokescreen tactics - a disgrace.
posted by niceness at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2003

chill, i_cola - perhaps we move in different circles, or perhaps I've heard the phrase so often recently it only seems that way......
posted by brettski at 8:11 AM on July 18, 2003

Unfortunately I suspect the judicial inquiry will be restricted to Kelly's death, not the wider WMD question - and guess who appoints the judge...? Not so eager at the back, please, MoD....
posted by klaatu at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2003

I don't know where you got that from, he was nothing of the sort.

I didn't see his testimony, but the report I heard (I think it was from BBC radio on NPR) said that he was all "That doesn't sound like something I'd say" and that the questioners spent the whole time asking him to speak up. I may well have misunderstood, but it made it sound like he was completely overwhelmed by the whole thing.
posted by jpoulos at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2003

Color Me Bad - 'I Want To Sex You Up'

Remember them/that? [apologies if you're going to have the tune in your head for the rest of the day.] 1991 so 'sexing up' has bee around for a while.

I agree with your take tho' Brettski. Having heard it so many times in the past month it feels like its been around for ever [and ever, and ever...]
posted by i_cola at 8:23 AM on July 18, 2003

in other news, from a former Iraqi who returned to help rebuild Iraq:
"On July 9, with deep sorrow, I respectfully submitted my resignation as a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz...
...there seemed to be no interest on the part of the coalition in involving Iraqis as advisers on the future of their country...
...Even though Mr. Bremer has the formal authority within Iraq, it seems like each and every decision must go back to Washington, and we are the victims of indecision....
...Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We're not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a superpower that can amass all that military might can't get the electricity turned back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam's ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the U.S. to do so now"

It's like we sexed up some reports and caught syphilis.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:31 AM on July 18, 2003

jpoulos: He was certainly overwhelmed but not a 'basket case', I was impressed with how he handled a situation that was obviously extremely uncomfortable and stressful for him.

Blair and Campbell should be thoroughly ashamed of their actions. Even after Kelly had appeared, the Labour party continued spinning against him, they had tried to blame the BBC and that hadn't worked, they needed n individual to pin it on...

"Later Richard Ottoway, a Tory MP who was on the committee, said he felt the implications of the latest developments were very serious. He said the committee's conclusion that Dr Kelly was unlikely to have been Gilligan's source was flagrantly ignored by No 10, which reacted by saying it was 99% sure Dr Kelly was the BBC reporter's source."
posted by niceness at 8:33 AM on July 18, 2003

I may well have misunderstood, but it made it sound like he was completely overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Under the circumstances I think anyone in his position would have been overwhelmed, particularly a civil servant not used to that kind of pressure. Although several members of the committee said this morning on the BBC that they felt their questioning was gentle (as you might expect them to) what I saw of it I found deeply uncomfortable to watch. The impression I got was of a sincere and dignified man being torn to shreds by over-eager backbenchers; there's a transcript here, so draw your own conclusions.

The soundbite that featured on all the news bulletins last week was a bullish Andrew Mackinlay describing him as "chaff" and a fall guy, something that's very hard to dismiss, especially in light of the disgraceful behaviour of Alastair Campbell and friends recently. Whatever happens, I really can't see the government or the MOD coming out of this intact - certainly I hope they don't. What a terribly sad day. I do hope they're all pleased with themselves.

On preview, what niceness said.
posted by zygoticmynci at 8:40 AM on July 18, 2003

Ah, but do you remember the William Shatner version of 'I Want To Sex You Up'? It rocks my world...
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2003

Color Me Bad - 'I Want To Sex You Up'

That's Color Me Badd. If you are going to dredge up mind-numbingly awful one hit wonders, at least misspell their name correctly.
posted by Lokheed at 8:46 AM on July 18, 2003

"basketcase" was clearly the wrong word. I meant no disrespect to Dr. Kelley. I only meant to suggest that he was under quite a bit of emotional duress, and suicide was therefore a likely explanation.
posted by jpoulos at 9:01 AM on July 18, 2003

I could be wrong, but does this really look like a stable man?

advance appologies to inline image police
posted by twine42 at 9:16 AM on July 18, 2003

He... was... MURDERED!!

Oooh! Oooh! They! They! Those dirty...

Ok, maybe not. But everybody's been so nice, I figured somebody oughtta do the TFH thing.
posted by Perigee at 9:29 AM on July 18, 2003

Let me get my tinfoil hat on before the conspiracy theories start flying out of control from both sides.
posted by da5id at 9:35 AM on July 18, 2003

Let me get my tinfoil hat on before the conspiracy theories start flying out of control from both sides.

The conspiracy theories will be coming from the Govt. - watch as they brief about his mental state, background, etc.

Before they destroy his character let's start with support for Kelly:
As I listen to the radio, the respected journalist (and friend of Kelly) Tom Mangold explains how, as an UNSCOM weapons inspector in Iraq, Kelly personally incurred the wrath of Saddam because he was so good at his job. When Saddam wanted the inspectors out, much of that was down to Kelly's success.
posted by niceness at 9:46 AM on July 18, 2003

He... was... MURDERED!!

"Surely he just shot himself and then hid the gun?"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2003

Lokheed: Color me stupidd ;-)
posted by i_cola at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2003

those brits -- if they're not sexing up a WMD report, they're having a go with the birds (or a row with the wankers)

posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:21 AM on July 18, 2003

I believe this attack can be safely blamed on Baathist remnants of the regime, who are clearly still angered by Kelly's weapons inspecting.
posted by cell divide at 10:36 AM on July 18, 2003

There's a revealing quote in the transcript where he explains why he cannot check his diaries:

Q29 Andrew Mackinlay: Could you do that over the next 24 hours?

Dr Kelly: No, because at the moment I am pursued by the press and I do not have access to my home.

and later:

Q114 Chairman: What lessons have you learned from this episode?

Dr Kelly: Never to talk to a journalist again, I think.

Poor soul.
posted by grahamwell at 10:53 AM on July 18, 2003

If it turns out that he took his own life, I forsee Blair coming on television with "moral outrage" at the press' actions, perhaps even some alluding to Princess Di. Giving the British government a nice red herring like this is certain to stifle journalist's attempts to uncover the ugly truths behind the WMD scandal.

If, on the other hand, he was murdered -- well, the gloves will come off, I imagine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2003

He... was... MURDERED!!

"Surely he just shot himself and then hid the gun?"

He fell down an elevator shaft... onto some bullets.
posted by majcher at 11:59 AM on July 18, 2003

People who love truth hate freedom.
posted by drstrangelove at 12:29 PM on July 18, 2003

I'm sure this will bring out the same class of nutbars who think that Senator Wellstone was killed by some secret conservative cabal.

Maybe this guy did it?
posted by mrmanley at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2003

I could be wrong, but does this really look like a stable man?


Looks like a serious, nay sombre, man - maybe unused to the flashbulbs and intrusion. Your sarcasm & prejudice scream out to me.

What do you see?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2003

let's recall the cries of "Vince Foster Was Murdered"

A belief still held by some here...
posted by y2karl at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2003

To me he looks very very scared. There's a haunted look in his eyes...

My money would be on suicide.
posted by twine42 at 2:18 PM on July 18, 2003

State of Play

"It's a stop..."
posted by feelinglistless at 2:51 PM on July 18, 2003

posted by palancik at 5:31 PM on July 18, 2003

W's Vince Foster! Paybacks are a...
posted by wiinga at 6:33 PM on July 18, 2003



"To me he looks very very scared. There's a haunted look in his eyes..." Spare me your weepy "Republican emergency defense mode" psychoanaysis punditry, and your weepy violin scratchings. No suicide, this.
posted by troutfishing at 9:07 PM on July 18, 2003

So why did they kill him?
posted by shoos at 12:05 AM on July 19, 2003

This is the guy...
Alastair the Assassin
posted by wibbler at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2003

Oh, he slashed his wrists, apparently... or someone did it for him.
Any non-UK readers have to understand that virtually no-one in the UK believes what the government says because almost every announcement by them it tinged with half-truths, complete lies and diversions. The "War on Ageism" was actually launched to hide the pensions crisis (the government has spent it all) and the change of retirement age to 70. So when a central man in the anti-government lobby, a man who knows a LOT more than the public does about the current war spin, ends up dead, the UK public instantly looks behind the government response, and instantly wonders what they're covering up. And all this diversion and spin on the simple matter of the 2 dodgy dossiers - what on earth are they afraid of? The mind boggles...
posted by wibbler at 7:35 AM on July 19, 2003

A senior officer said a knife and a packet of painkillers had been found close to where his body was discovered

That would seem to be that, then. Though, you'd think a guy with a family who was under stress would have left some kind of note. The police are still investigating. Out of curiosity, why on earth was it going around that he was shot?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:19 AM on July 19, 2003

I'm wondering why it took so long to realise he slit his wrists...
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:31 AM on July 19, 2003

Well, I suppose they had to wait until the autopsy was carried out, orange Goblin. Although in any other highly-publicised death, the cause is known within hours... very odd...
posted by wibbler at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2003

thought people might want to read this - it's from channel 4 news which is a pretty decent news service in the uk. they have a mail letter each day written by the presenter (usually john snow, who i think has been on cnn from time to time, but this time krishnan (murphy? can't remember)). anyway, this was in today's missive (not on the net to link to, as far as i know):
Dr Kelly confirmed dead:
The word "tragedy" gets bandied around a lot by government ministers
whenever something bad happens, and we've heard a lot of that word today.
But the death of Dr David Kelly already seems like much more than the
tragedy being felt by his friends, family and colleagues. It is a scandal,
in which lots of people are very angry, lots of others will be feeling
very guilty and it is a scandal which could, almost certainly, have been
avoided. It has left a stench in the air.

The police announced today that Dr Kelly bled to death after slashing his
wrists. He was found with a packet of pain killers. The government have
announced an inquiry to be conducted by a judge - Lord Hutton. The
government will co-operate, but the judge cannot force people to testify
and they will not do so under oath. The Tories have called for Parliament
to be recalled so that they can help frame the terms of the inquiry. As
for the Prime Minister, Tony Blair looked visibly shaken and upset at his
press conference in Japan today - and with good reason. The jobs of
Alastair Campbell, Geoff Hoon and possibly even his own are hanging in the

Blood on their hands?
Of course we do not know what ultimately drove Dr Kelly to kill himself
but it was the government who put Dr Kelly in the spotlight because of
their vendetta with the BBC. They chose to announce to the press that a
scientist had come forward to admit he had given briefings to journalists
about Iraqi weapons, Geoff Hoon wrote to the BBC asking them to confirm
that Dr Kelly was the source of Andrew Gilligan's allegations, and because
of all those actions he ended up being named in the press and called
before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Sadly Defence Secretary Hoon
has chosen not to appear on Channel 4 News tonight to answer our
questions. We will however be joined by Glenda Jackson MP who is today
calling for the Prime Minister to resign over the affair.

posted by andrew cooke at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2003

chill: ...a tendency over the last 20 years for MOD personnel to commit suicide by unconventional means...

posted by Sonny Jim at 11:01 PM on July 19, 2003

Actually I was specifically referring to the Deepcut deaths...
In the same year as Ms James died, 20-year-old Sean Benton from Hastings, West Sussex was found dead with five gunshot wounds - another suicide according to the army.

Although I'm aware of the Marconi Deaths I've not read up on them. I will though, as my dad even worked in defense for Marconi during this period and that has sparked some interest within me. I briefly quizzed him on the incident a year ago when I first heard about it. It seems he gathered a lot of local press information at the time but I haven't followed it up.
posted by chill at 3:48 AM on July 21, 2003

Thanks for that link. I was only aware of the Marconi 'suicide cluster', having (I think) seen one of the docos on local TV in the late '80s. All very 'Edge of Darkness'. Contemporary press clippings might certainly be interesting; as I've found, not a whole lot of information has made it online.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:24 AM on July 22, 2003

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