As some readers may know, The Telegraph's Con Coughlin has something of a history when it comes to spreading the unsubstantiated claims of the security services and hiding the real source of the story from his readers. In a story about Colonel Gadafy's son, he wrote that the story had been supplied to him by a "British banking official" when he meant to write that it had been supplied by "MI6 agents". It is impossible to say whether he deliberately misled his readers; perhaps he has a faulty keyboard.
The truth of this only came to light when the Telegraph, in hot water because they couldn't substantiate their claim in court, was forced to admit the real source of the story.
With that in mind, Con has been making a lot of noise today about a connection between North Korea and Iran. His article on the subject is on the front page of the Telegraph. Links to an opinion piece and a pretend blog post are also featured on the Telegraph's interwebs. (What chance do you think my comment on Con's "blog" has of making it past the moderator?) The Telegraph also ran a leader on the story.
Con also appeared on the Today programme this morning to repeat the claims. (Thanks to J for the link.)
Con's source is "a senior European defence official".
Before giving any credence whatsoever to Con's assertions, it may be be a good idea to see whether anyone from the British government is prepared to go on the record to confirm these claims.
Remember, Bush never explicitly claimed that Saddam was involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks. The administration used implication and spin to send the message. Friendly journalists were encouraged and/or exploited to make claims which the administration knew they themselves couldn't substantiate.
Back in 2002, one journalists was taken to task by Warren Bass, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, for publishing a book "overblowing Iraq's link to the war on terrorism". The author of the book made a number of claims which didn't stand up to scrutiny or were based on dubious unidentified sources. Can you guess which journalist it was?
Pedantic note: It's not MI6, it's SIS. I've used MI6 because that's what was used in the article.