October 21, 2005
Redactions on Hariri Report Revealed!
As mentioned previously, the edition of the Hariri report distributed by the Washington Post was a Word document in which it was possible to "track changes" and back up the previous version's redactions. The vast majority of the changes fixed spelling and grammar errors, standardized peoples' titles and the spelling of their names, and reworded awkward sentences. But there were four deletions of moment to the document. Deleted text has been
struck - added text has been bolded. In order:
16. The Commission could not operate in a media vacuum, particularly in Lebanon.
Certain Lebanese media had the unfortunate and constant tendency to spread rumors, nurture speculation, offer information as facts without prior checking and at times use materials obtained under dubious circumstances, from sources that had been briefed by the Commission, thereby creating distress and anxiety among the public at large and hindering the Commission’s work when the focus should have been mostly on security issues.It has been the Commission's steadfast policy not to be drawn directly into a dialogue in the Lebanese media, avoiding any escalation and staying above any challenging or provocative statements. Both press conferences were aimed at countering such speculation and clarifying the status of the investigation. Inevitably, their effect was short-lived.
17. To enhance transparency and broader cooperation, working with the judicial authorities entailed keeping the highest political authorities abreast of developments in the investigation, to the extent that such action did not call into question the independent nature of the Commission nor have a direct impact on the course of the investigation per se.
However, a number of Lebanese political figures added to the climate of insecurity and suspicion, by leaking information to the press, or by revealing sensitive data without the prior consent of the Commission.
Possibly it was decided that the struck comments just sounded too bitchy for words.
96. One witness of Syrian origin but resident in Lebanon, who claims to have worked for the Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, has stated that approximately two weeks after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1559,
Maher Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleiman, and Jamil al-Sayyedsenior Lebanese and Syrian officials decided to assassinate Rafik Hariri. He claimed that Sayyeda senior Lebanese security official went several times to Syria to plan the crime, meeting once at the Meridian Hotel in Damascus and several times at the Presidential Place and the office of Shawkata senior Syrian security official. The last meeting was held in the house of Shawkatthe same senior Syrian security official approximately seven to 10 days before the assassination and included Mustapha Hamdananother senior Lebanese security official. The witness had close contact with high ranked Syrian officers posted in Lebanon.
Obviously the most important of the changes in the document, and the one that makes me wonder whether the release of the backtrack-able version of the document was a mistake or a "mistake" - on the final review, it was evidently decided that accusing specific leaders by name on the evidence of a single anonymous witness was going too far. Shawkat, in particular, is the brother-in-law of Bashar al Asad, and the accusation has been reported widely.
125. Mr. Rafik Hariri's telephone lines were constantly under wire-tapping. The measures were undertaken by the Army Intelligence in cooperation with representatives from the surete generale. The protocols were forwarded on daily basis to General Raymond Azar, General Michel Suleyman and General Jamil Al-Sayyed. Mr. Azar also forwarded the protocols to the President of the Lebanese Republic and to the chief of the Syrian Intelligence Service, who was Ghazi Kanaan and then Rustum Ghazali. No documentation on this topic has been found during UNIIIC investigative measures.
The whole paragraph was removed - I'll spare you a strikethrough on the whole thing. Arguably, this was a "style" edit - this paragraph restates information found in the previous and following paragraphs.
Posted by tomscud at October 21, 2005 02:57 PM
Filed Under: Levant
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Ooh goody, did you just scoop major news media?
Posted by: Eva Luna at October 21, 2005 05:30 PM
Well, the Angry Arab beat me to the punch, to tell the truth. But since no one can actually read an entire one of his 30000-word paragraphs, I might still win some notoriety for us here yet.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at October 21, 2005 05:41 PM
Michael Young says Annan's office was behind the changes.
Posted by: praktike at October 21, 2005 06:15 PM
Michael Young says many things. Is there any particular reason to give this credence.
As for the Word tracking, it is so easy to forget to strip that out that I lean very heavily to ordinary fuck up.
I have gotten my hands on all kinds of stuff (and to be sure fucked up myself with this) via MS Office's "helpful" features.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at October 21, 2005 07:34 PM
Agreed. I think the most likely explanation is that, reviewing the final document, Mehlis himself decided that naming specific persons on the basis of the testimony of "a witness of Syrian origin but resident in Lebanon, who claims to have worked for the Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon" was a bit much. Mehlis strikes me as being a typical anal-retentive rule-bound European bureaucrat - the kind of man who would be scrupulous about not pushing his accusations beyond the point where he could prove them to 99 44/100% accuracy.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at October 21, 2005 07:41 PM
Well, better that than the reporting standards of The New York Times, if I am reading the recent firestorms there right.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at October 21, 2005 08:41 PM
Overall, no big surprise, in international and other grand affairs the likely suspects are the obvious ones, usually.
Posted by: matthew hogan at October 21, 2005 10:41 PM
To those that matter, on both sides, I'm guessing these names are probably no secret whatsoever. Revealing them or not in a public UN document is more a matter of politics and style. Hopefully it won't affect the continuing investigation at the hands of Lebanese officials (or otherwise).
Releasing DOCs instead of PDFs... man, what laziness.
Posted by: zurn at October 22, 2005 05:09 PM
Quite, right I may add, style and diplomacy
Posted by: The Lounsbury at October 22, 2005 05:42 PM