The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

As the UN Meets: The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War


Katharine Gun, a former British government employee, faced two years
imprisonment in England for leaking a U.S. intelligence memo before the
invasion of Iraq. The memo indicated that the U.S. had mounted a spying
"surge" against U.N. Security Council delegations in early 2003 in an
effort to win approval for an Iraq war resolution. The leaked memo --
published by the British newspaper The Observer on March 2, 2003 -- was
big news in parts of the world, but almost ignored in the United
States. The U.S. government then failed to obtain a U.N. resolution
approving war, but still proceeded with the invasion.

KATHARINE GUN In the U.S. for a brief visit, Gun said today:
"The U.S. and British governments were claiming that they were not
wanting war. I had access to a secret document that showed that they
were in effect attempting to blackmail other U.N. members into voting
for a second resolution that would approve war. The public deserved to
know the truth about what their governments were doing. I wanted to
prevent the deaths that would -- and sadly, did -- result from an
invasion of Iraq."

Marcia Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell are co-authors of the new book The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion.

Marcia Mitchell said today: "Katharine's case is a major missing
piece that few in the U.S. know about that shows the extent of the
deception for war. The U.S. National Security Agency -- coordinating
with other U.S. agencies and with the British -- were using illegal
spying to try to force the other U.N. members to approve war, while
claiming they were trying to avoid war. This story should have caused
anyone taking the administration's word at the time to seriously
reassess the situation.

"Gun's trial in the U.K. was scheduled to begin on Feb. 25, 2004.
But the day before, her defense asked for government documents about
the legality of the war. Making such documents public was [then-U.K.
Prime Minister] Tony Blair's great fear. He didn't want the public to
know of government documents that existed that stated that an invasion
of Iraq could be illegal and lead to war crimes charges. So the
government dropped the case. (Blair even claimed such documents didn't
exist, but they were later leaked.)

"Doubtlessly, the British government was also afraid of how
sincere Katharine was. She wanted to ensure that the weapons inspectors
would continue doing their work and not be withdrawn from Iraq, as they

Marcia Mitchell is a former senior executive at the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting and retired as associate director of the
American Film Institute. Thomas Mitchell is a former FBI special agent
whose 17 years with the Bureau included counterintelligence work.
More Information

On Wednesday evening, Sept. 24, there will be a symposium in
Washington, D.C. at American University -- "A Question of Conscience:
The Katharine Gun Story" -- at 8:10 p.m., in the Ward Circle Building.
In addition to Katharine Gun and the Mitchells, other speakers include
former U.S. intelligence specialists Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the
Pentagon Papers) and Ray McGovern. The event will be web streamed live
by The Real News.

Background: Gun and the Mitchells were guests on the Diane Rehm Show on Monday.

Further background on the Gun case is here.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.