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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Danish press divided on Iraq secrets
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Not all papers are convinced by the declassificiation

The press in Denmark are split as to whether Danish Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) reports produced before the Iraq war provided a basis for Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to take Denmark to war.

Some of these reports have now been declassified.

Copenhagen broadsheet Berlingske Tidende, which first leaked details of the reports, says "the prime minister didn't lie, but the nuances of the DDIS' assessments were omitted."

The paper says he did not distort anything when he said the DDIS' overall assessment was that Iraq probably had weapons of mass destruction, although the service did not have any reliable evidence.

"It is paradoxical that the accusations about the misuse of the DDIS reports could have been avoided," the daily adds, "if they had been published in good time, for example as an appendix to parliament's decision to take part in the war in Iraq.

"If we can learn anything from this story, the latest chapters of which have resembled a farce, it must be that both politicians and the public clearly require as well informed as possible a basis for making decisions before future wars."


Another Copenhagen paper, Information, disagrees.

"The prime minister was definitely wrong when war broke out and he stated that he not only believed but simply knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," it says.

"There is nothing in the intelligence service's reports to support such cocksureness."

The opposition had staked everything on a talkative spy who was left standing in the same position as the main character in 'The Emperor's New Clothes'

"The basis on which the prime minister sent Danish soldiers into war is still highly dubious," the paper believes.

The paper says it finds it difficult to understand why the prime minister still refuses to hold an investigation into the basis for going to war as this "still allows suspicion of manipulation".

"Only an investigation can clear the air."

High stakes

Viby's Jyllands-Posten says the opposition's last grounds for "loose allegations in what was already a desperate effort to storm the government" fell away when the reports were published.

"The opposition had staked everything on a talkative spy who was left standing in the same position as the main character in 'The Emperor's New Clothes'."

As for the opposition's calls for an investigation, the paper says "it is regrettable that the Social Democrats in particular continue to want to misuse both parliament's and ministers' time and resources on this kind of political occupational therapy."

However, this is precisely what Copenhagen's Politiken is calling for.

Those who supported the decision to go into Iraq from the beginning find no serious errors in the government's handling of the decision

"The government has a different assessment of the factual information than what can directly be read from them [the reports]," it says, adding that "only one conclusion can be drawn from this: a commission of inquiry must be appointed to get to the bottom of how the DDIS' papers should be read."

The newspaper believes this is the only way to find out whether the prime minister could use the reports as a basis for his assessment in March 2003, despite "the obvious discrepancies".

Two other papers feel the publication of the reports has changed little.


Tabloid B.T. says: "If you take a look around the landscape of politicians, commentators and media, you'll see a tediously deadlocked picture.

"Those who supported the decision to go into Iraq from the beginning find no serious errors in the government's handling of the decision. However, those who were against the decision now claim that it was taken on the basis of 'lies and manipulation'."

The daily adds that the publication of the previously confidential DDIS reports has not "visibly changed the frontlines". It finds this "very sad".

Kristeligt Dagblad says "it is more or less even.

"It all depends on whose eyes are looking."

The paper says it is "understandable" that the opposition has taken the opportunity to attack the prime minister and his government.

"That's politics. But to prolong the issue by demanding that an independent commission of inquiry be appointed to analyse the Defence Intelligence Agency's and the prime minister's credibility is meaningless.

"It is time to be forward-thinking and constructive, not least for Iraq's sake," it concludes.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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