Hearsay Can't Be the Basis for War

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW ALEXANDER

THE evidence flourished at the United Nations about Saddam Hussein's weapons programme has left the issue in much confusion. But one thing remains all too clear. We are apparently ready to attack Iraq in defiance of the wishes of the UN - on the grounds that Iraq has been defying the UN!

Whether undermining the authority of that organisation, perhaps fatally, would be a total disaster is a matter for argument. But it could well be that this fear will drive some unconvinced and reluctant Security Council members to give the U.S. the authority it seeks, simply to avoid a break-up.

The plethora of detail produced by Secretary of State Colin Powell should not let us fail to see the wood for the trees. If Saddam still has weapons of mass destruction, do we yet have reason to believe that he intends to use them against the U.S. or its European allies? Is there a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda? On that point, we can make a judgment. Powell strongly asserted such a link. Yet our own security services deny it.

Indeed, they say the terrorist organisation and Baghdad have fallen out.

Bin Laden wants a fundamentalist regime in Iraq and Saddam emphatically does not.

We also learn from the police that they have not established a link between DC Stephen Oake's murder in Manchester and Al Qaeda, which Powell also asserted.

This casts doubt on the quality of the American evidence.

Satellite pictures and bugged telephone calls look impressive. And, of course, the Central Intelligence Agency would not doctor such evidence, not for a million dollars. ($2 million?

'Now you're talking . . .'). The evidence Powell produces would not get far in a court of law.

Hearsay and assertions are not enough. Remember, this is the toughest evidence the U.S. has. The right course would surely have been to give it to the weapons inspectors.

There is little point in having them if they are denied information.

Now they know the American evidence, they can look further.

However, the timetable specified by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, no doubt at Washington's behest, suggests that the Anglo-American alliance does not want them given long enough to do their job.

SHOULD we leave the European Union? Beware of answering yes.

About half the population would agree with you, but a senior figure at the BBC has decreed that you are 'mad'.

This was revealed in the Sunday Telegraph by former Today editor Rod Liddle, along with the fact that he was ordered to halt Frederick Forsyth's regular item because it was too 'Rightwing'. …