Operation Mass Appeal

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Microphones-2-.jpg This article is part of the Propaganda Portal project of Spinwatch.
Operation Mass Appeal was a British government operation alleged to have been a disinformation outlet on Iraq run by ‘MI6 black propaganda specialists’ [1]. According to former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, Operation Mass Appeal was a psychological warfare effort, which: 'served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD' [2]

The operation 'was launched', claims Sunday Herald journalist Neil Mackay, 'in the late 1990s on Tony Blair's watch and saw claims crop up... about Saddam developing nerve agents and other evil super weapons of doom. These appeared in newspapers in countries like Poland or India or South Africa. Nations that were all non-alighned at the time'.[3] According to Mackay 'once the stories appeared in a foreign paper... British reporters would leap on them joyfully as free copy and reprint them back home'.[4]

'The government has admitted that Operation Mass Appeal did exist', writes Mackay.[5]

Mackay reports that Scott Ritter was involved in the operation and that according to Ritter he 'met two men and a woman from MI6 at a lunch in London in June 1998 to discuss Operation Mass Appeal'.[6] According to Ritter:

What MI6 was determined to do by the selective use of intelligence was to give the impression that Saddam still had WMD or was making them, and thereby legitimise sanctions and military action against Iraq'.[7]

Butler Review

The account given by Ritter and Mackay differs from that given in the Butler report, which confirms that Operation Mass Appeal did exist and that Ritter was involved in meetings in relation to it.

6.3 OPERATION MASS APPEAL
485. In November 2003, the former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter was reported to have told journalists that, in the late-1990s, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) ran 'Operation Mass Appeal' an alleged disinformation campaign to disseminate 'single source data of dubious quality' about Iraq, in order to 'shake up public opinion'.
486. Mr Ritter was quoted as follows:
I was brought into the operation in 1997 because at the UN . . . I sat on a body of data which was not actionable, but was sufficiently sexy that if it could appear in the press could make Iraq look like in a bad way.
I was approached by MI6 to provide that data, I met with the Mass Appeal operatives both in New York and London on several occasions. This data was provided and this data did find its way into the international media.
It was intelligence data that dealt with Iraq's efforts to procure WMDs, with Iraq's efforts to conceal WMDs. It was all single source data of dubious quality, which lacked veracity.
They took this information and peddled it off to the media, internationally and domestically, allowing inaccurate intelligence data to appear on the front pages.
The government, both here in the UK and the US, would feed off these media reports, continuing the perception that Iraq was a nation ruled by a leader with an addiction to WMDs. [BBC News, 12 November 2003]
487. Mr Ritter was reported as saying that he was prepared to reveal details before a public inquiry.
488. We took evidence from Mr Ritter, including on Operation Mass Appeal. Mr Ritter said that Operation Mass Appeal was already up and running when SIS approached him in December 1997. He was asked if there was material on Iraq's weapons programmes on which the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) could not act, but which might be made public through media outlets in a range of countries. Mr Ritter said that Mr Richard Butler, the then Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, agreed that UNSCOM should co-operate with the UK in this way and that two reports relating to prohibited trade between Iraq and two other countries were passed to the UK the same month. UNSCOM's involvement then fell into abeyance until May 1998 when contact resumed. Mr Ritter said that he met SIS officers again in June 1998 to discuss Operation Mass Appeal for the last time. He resigned from UNSCOM soon after that.
489. We have examined relevant SIS papers. These confirm that there were two meetings between British Government officials and UNSCOM representatives, including Mr Ritter, in May and June 1998 at which there were discussions about how to make public the discovery of traces of the nerve agent VX on missile warheads after this fact had been reported to the United Nations Security Council. (Iraq had previously denied weaponising VX.) Operation Mass Appeal was set up for this specific purpose and did not exist before May 1998. In the event, before Operation Mass Appeal could proceed, the UNSCOM report was leaked to the press in Washington. Because of this, Operation Mass Appeal was abandoned.[8]

People

Dr. David Kelly, 'may have been used by MI6 to pass on fake facts to journalists'.[9] | Sir Derek Plumbly, former director Middle East department, Foreign Office - 'one of the key figures'.[10]

Affiliations

Resources

See also Operation Rockingham

Notes

  1. Scott Ritter (2005) Iraq Confidential: the Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein. (p. 281) New York: Nation Books.
  2. Scott Ritter (2005) Iraq Confidential: the Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein. (p. 280-281) New York: Nation Books.
  3. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 104
  4. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 104
  5. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 104
  6. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 105
  7. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 105
  8. Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors Chairman: The Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO, Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 14th July 2004, HC 898, London: The Stationery Office: p. 104.
  9. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 105
  10. Neil Mackay, (2006) The War on Truth, Glasgow: Sunday Herald Books, p. 105