Dr. Kelley Warned: Many Dark Actors Playing Games
New York Times
July 20, 2003
LONDON, July 19 Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that the suicide of the British weapons expert Dr. David Kelly was "an absolutely terrible tragedy," and he appealed for politicians and the press to end speculation about the causes of it while a judicial inquiry proceeded. Dr. Kelly's body was found Friday morning on a footpath five miles from his Oxfordshire home. His wife, Jan, said on Friday that he had committed suicide.
The Thames Valley Police announced this afternoon that he had bled to death after cutting his left wrist. They reported recovering a knife and a package of painkilling pills at the scene.
The police would not discuss whether there was any note or other explanation, but his wife said Friday that she had had no indication he was contemplating suicide when he left his home in the village of Southmoor Thursday afternoon, saying he was going for a walk.
Mr. Blair made his remarks in Hakone, Japan, where he was having talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Dr. Kelly, 59, was a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq and a senior adviser to the Ministry of Defense on weapons of mass destruction. Accustomed to working behind the scenes, he became caught up in a highly publicized dispute over the validity of arms intelligence in a dossier published by the government last September to overcome Britons' opposition to the war.
Dr. Kelly had been singled out by the government as the likely source for a BBC report in late May that Downing Street inserted a claim exaggerating the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons into the document justifying Britain's push for military action in Iraq.
The government considered the report deeply damaging and has conducted a campaign against the BBC seeking to disprove the account and obtain both a retraction and an apology. The public service broadcaster has stood behind the claim and demanded a government apology.
In early July, Dr. Kelly told his managers in the Defense Ministry that he had met with the BBC reporter in question and might be the anonymous security official cited by the broadcaster as its source. He said he could deny that he had made the claim at the center of the report that the government was responsible for inserting evidence that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons deployable in 45 minutes into the document.
The government apparently saw in Dr. Kelly an opportunity to embarrass the BBC. Dr. Kelly was hauled before a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs where on Tuesday he was subjected to badgering questions that left him visibly uncomfortable.
In an e-mail message to a reporter for The New York Times shortly before he left on his walk Thursday, Dr. Kelly discussed his appearance before the committee and referred to "many dark actors playing games."
Mr. Blair, struggling to contain what is shaping up as a major crisis for his government, appeared grim and tired at today's news conference. He was questioned about whether the crisis would cause him or any of his top aides to resign and asked if he felt he had "blood on his hands."
He answered: "I hope we can set aside the speculation and the claims and the counterclaims and allow that due process to take its proper course. And in the meantime, all of us, the politicians and the media alike, should show some respect and restraint."
News of the death came a day after Mr. Blair made a speech before a joint meeting of Congress in Washington that aides hoped might still the raging debate here over whether Britain manipulated intelligence files to justify the war in Iraq.
Instead, with Dr. Kelly's suicide, the focus of political debate has returned to the subject and to the aspect of it where polls show Mr. Blair's government is most vulnerable: a reputation for spinning information to its own advantage.http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/20/international/worldspecial/20KELL.html?ex=1059278400&en=feb83d7800250089&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE