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Analyst Finds Work Plagiarized in British Dossier

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Times Staff Writer

Embarrassed British officials acknowledged Friday that large portions of an intelligence dossier on Iraq’s obstruction of weapons inspections were copied from published sources, including an article by a researcher at an obscure government think tank here.

The dossier was posted this week on British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Web site and was cited Wednesday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his presentation of evidence to the U.N. Security Council.

No one likes to be a victim of plagiarism. But Ibrahim Marashi had to acknowledge Friday that having his work pinched by the prime minister had brought him a measure of fame and notoriety he had never known.

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“I wouldn’t characterize my feeling as angry. More like disappointed,” said Marashi, a lecturer at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. But yes, he said, rushing from interviews with CNN to sit-downs with British TV, he couldn’t help feeling flattered to have his work borrowed by Blair.

Although Blair’s team said the information was based on intelligence and offered “up-to-date details” of Saddam Hussein’s security apparatus, part of it was actually Marashi’s uncredited work from an article he wrote for the September issue of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. Titled “Iraq’s Security and Intelligence Network: A Guide and Analysis,” the article examined the five security agencies that keep Hussein in power.

Wire service reports from London said a spokesman for Blair took responsibility for the oversight.

“In retrospect, we should have acknowledged” that sections of the dossier came from Marashi’s writing, the spokesman said.

Several paragraphs are identical in the two documents, and others are only slightly different. Jane’s Intelligence Review said sections of its articles also were in the dossier.

Political opponents said that Blair had misled the public and that the development cast doubt on the credibility of his case against Hussein.

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Britain said its dossier was based on “a number of sources.” Assertions from sources other than Marashi include that Baghdad had bugged the weapons inspectors and had hidden documents in Iraqi hospitals, mosques and homes.

The media attention thrust into the limelight the 29-year-old descendant of immigrants who fled Iraq in 1968, when Hussein’s Baath Party came to power. Marashi grew up in California and was educated at UCLA, Georgetown and Oxford. Besides lecturing at the postgraduate school, he is a research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, also in Monterey.

Marashi’s article is a fairly dry analysis of the Mukhabarat, the security apparatus that he says has helped Hussein survive “two costly wars plus numerous internal insurrections, coup attempts and crippling international sanctions.”

The agencies examined were Special Security, General Security, General Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Military Security.

All play a role, according to Marashi, in “procuring and concealing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” His own lengthy footnotes include references to documents seized during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Kurdish rebels seized 10 million pages of documents, while 300,000 more documents were abandoned in Kuwait by retreating Iraqi soldiers. Some of those papers have been made public over the last decade.

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In an interview, Marashi didn’t hide his own political leanings. “I want a regime change in Iraq,” he said.

As for Blair’s borrowing from his analysis, he said no one from the British government has yet attempted to contact him to apologize.

“There are rules to abide by” in excerpting other people’s work, he said. “They didn’t follow them.”

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