United Kingdom: WMD conspiracy theory lives on

Many still have doubts about the suicide of David Kelly, the weapons expert who disputed the British government's claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat.

There is still “a cloud of doubt” hanging over the death of David Kelly, said the Mail on Sunday in an editorial. Dr. Kelly was a weapons expert for the Defense Ministry who disputed the government’s claims that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed an “imminent threat” to Britain and the world. In 2003, a few weeks after the invasion of Iraq, Kelly expressed his concerns to reporter Andrew Gilligan, who unleashed an exposé of what he called the government’s “sexed-up” dossier on Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. The Defense Ministry retaliated by leaking Kelly’s name to the media and trying to destroy his reputation, and in a few short weeks Kelly was found dead in the woods near his home; his death was ruled a suicide. Yet questions persist. There was “no proper inquest”—and no explanation as to why one wasn’t carried out. Kelly supposedly slit his wrists and bled to death, but last week a group of doctors reviewing the evidence said it was “highly unlikely” for someone to die merely from cutting the small artery that had been severed. What’s the government hiding? Why not open an inquest now?

Because we’ve already plowed this ground, said David Aaronovitch in The Times. It’s been seven years since Kelly died, yet we hear calls for an inquest at least once a year. The latest group to cast doubt on the suicide goes over “much the same” terrain as all previous doubters did. What all these conspiracy theorists have in common is a failure to acknowledge what the police said: that Kelly’s death resulted not from the severed artery alone, but from that wound in combination with his heart condition and an overdose of pain killers. Conspiracy mongers prefer to believe that our own government murdered Kelly, apparently in retaliation for his whistle-blowing. For them, “artery doubt” plays the same role “as the magic bullet in the JFK conspiracy.” They are building “a baroque cathedral of allegation out of piss and wind.”

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