"Sexed Up".

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ap:
I've just been reading the Hutton report. The journalist Andrew Gilligan quite clearly made an error in reporting an allegation that the British government "probably" knew that the claim that WMD could be deployed at 45 minutes' notice was false before they made it. But I cannot for the life of me see that he was wrong to claim that the document was "sexed up". Because it is a matter of record that the wording was changed in order to make the dossier in question sound stronger.*
I've checked some old AUE threads about "sexed up", and the posters all understood the term, as I do, to imply giving existing facts more impact rather than embellishing them with untruths. But this is Lord Hutton's adjudication on its meaning:The term "sexed-up" is a slang expression, the meaning of which lacks clarity in the context of the discussion of the dossier. It is capable of two different meanings. It could mean that the dossier was embellished with items of intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable to make the case against Saddam Hussein stronger, or it could mean that whilst the intelligence contained in the dossier was believed to be reliable, the dossier was drafted in such a way as to make the case against Saddam Hussein as strong as the intelligence contained in it permitted.

If the term is used in this latter sense, then because of the drafting suggestions made by 10 Downing Street for the purpose of making a strong case against Saddam Hussein, it could be said that the Government "sexed-up" the dossier. However in the context of the broadcasts in which the "sexing-up" allegation was reported and having regard to the other allegations reported in those broadcasts, I consider that the allegation was unfounded as it would have been understood by those who heard the broadcasts to mean that the dossier had been embellished with intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable, which was not the case.
Does anyone else disagree with that? Or am I going mad?
*By the way, here are the parts of the report which suggested to me that the document had indeed been "sexed up" in the way most people would recognise the term:
v) Mr Alastair Campbell made it clear to Mr Scarlett on behalf of the Prime Minister that 10 Downing Street wanted the dossier to be worded to make as strong a case as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, and 10 Downing Street made written suggestions to Mr Scarlett as to changes in the wording of the draft dossier which would strengthen it. But Mr Campbell recognised, and told Mr Scarlett that 10 Downing Street recognised, that nothing should be stated in the dossier with which the intelligence community were not entirely happy.vii) As the dossier was one to be presented to, and read by, Parliament and the public, and was not an intelligence assessment to be considered only by the Government, I do not consider that it was improper for Mr Scarlett and the JIC to take into account suggestions as to drafting made by 10 Downing Street and to adopt those suggestions if they were consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC. However I consider that the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the Prime Minister to have a dossier which, whilst consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment.

Although this possibility cannot be completely ruled out, I am satisfied that Mr Scarlett, the other members of the JIC, and the members of the assessment staff engaged in the drafting of the dossier were concerned to ensure that the contents of the dossier were consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC.
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Laura F Spira:
[nq:1]I've just been reading the Hutton report. The journalist Andrew Gilligan quite clearly made an error in reporting an allegation ... be false or unreliable, which was not the case. Does anyone else disagree with that? Or am I going mad?[/nq]
I think Hutton's argument is specious but I am more concerned about the meaning of the word "intelligence" which seems to be going through some convenient redefinition. I thought it used to mean "knowledge" but it now seems to mean something far less reliable.
OED has
5.a Interchange of knowledge, information, or sentiment; mutualconveyance of information; communication, intercourse. Now rare or Obs.

b esp. applied to the communication of spies, secret or private agents, etc. Obs.
Note the "obsolete" annotation - and then:
7. Knowledge as to events, communicated by or obtained fromanother; information, news, tidings; spec. information of military value.

- which appears to be the current accepted meaning and does not encompass the ambiguity of "sentiment" or make any mention of opinion.

It seems to me that the government, in an attempt to shift blame, are keen to redefine the word. I wonder what all this will do to recruitment to the "intelligence" services.

Laura
(emulate St. George for email)
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Mike Barnes:
[nq:1]I've just been reading the Hutton report. The journalist Andrew Gilligan quite clearly made an error in reporting an allegation ... be false or unreliable, which was not the case. Does anyone else disagree with that? Or am I going mad?[/nq]
I've disagreed with it from the first time I heard it on the radio. Before that time I'd never heard the term "sexed up"(1) used in the former sense (embellished with falsehoods), and I'd be interested to see any evidence to support Lord Hutton's bald assertion that the listener would have understood it that way. I certainly wouldn't.
(1) I can't be completely sure that I'd ever heard the term "sexed up" as such: but making things "sexy" in order to increase their appeal is (or at least was) common marketing jargon.

Mike Barnes
Cheshire, England
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Michael Nitabach:
[nq:2]I've just been reading the Hutton report. The journalist Andrew ... anyone else disagree with that? Or am I going mad?[/nq]
[nq:1] I think Hutton's argument is specious but I am more concerned about the meaning of the word "intelligence" which seems to be going through some convenient redefinition. I thought it used to mean "knowledge" but it now seems to mean something far less reliable.[/nq]
I don't see anything novel about the use of the term "intelligence" in the quoted passage. Are you claiming that "knowledge" does not admit of degrees of certainty?
What I do see as problems in the quoted passage are the glaring absence of several commas in the last sentence and the use of "having regard to".

Mike Nitabach
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Donna Richoux:
[nq:1]I've just been reading the Hutton report. The journalist Andrew Gilligan quite clearly made an error in reporting an allegation ... giving existing facts more impact rather than embellishing them with untruths. But this is Lord Hutton's adjudication on its meaning:[/nq]
(adding another set of indent markers, for clarity)
[nq:2]The term "sexed-up" is a slang expression, the meaning of ... to be false or unreliable, which was not the case.[/nq]
[nq:1]Does anyone else disagree with that?[/nq]
The way you put that question, "I don't" sounds wrong, but it's what I mean. I think Hutton does a reasonable job there of trying to distinguish between merely strengthening a report and doing so by knowingly adding false or unreliable claims.
He says that "in the context" it sounded like Gilligan was accusing the government of the latter. According to Hutton, Gilligan did not merely say that the government revised the report in order to achieve maximum impact. That would have been routine.
However, to judge any further, I'd have to be reminded of what it was that Gilligan actually said (the morning TV show, I suppose).

I'm not taking sides here on the entire outcome, but you've asked about a specific point.

Best - Donna Richoux
(snip)
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Matti Lamprhey:
Albert's post prompted me to find a transcript of the original Gilligan item as broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at sparrow's fart on 29 May 2003: http://media.guardian.co.uk/radio/story/0,12636,994893,00.html

I'd make the following points:

1. Gilligan didn't use the novel phrase "sexed up", but the familiar"make it sexier".
2. Nowhere in the item is there any discussion of presentationalmatters it's all about how "dubious information" was added to the dossier within the last week before publication and how "most people in intelligence were unhappy about it".
So Hutton was probably right in deciding that, in the context of that broadcast item, "sexing up" referred to the inclusion of dubious information rather than putting a presentational spin on information which was itself not contentious.
Matti
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Ross Howard:
[nq:2] I think Hutton's argument is specious but I am ... but it now seems to mean something far less reliable.[/nq]
[nq:1]I don't see anything novel about the use of the term "intelligence" in the quoted passage. Are you claiming that ... quoted passage are the glaring absence of several commas in the last sentence and the use of "having regard to".[/nq]
Huh? Hutton's a Law Lord, and "have regard to" is the only proper term in formal m'luddery. Why? Simply because it is so stipulated under the Legal (England) Verbosity Revision Act 1983, whereby "in respect of" is reserved for silks, "in relation to" corresponds to junior larnid friends, "insofar as . . . is concerned" is the mandatory form for notaries public and commissioners for oaths, "regarding" is for the exclusive use of bog-standard solicitors, and we plebs must make do with "as for".

Ross Howard
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Ross Howard:
[nq:1](1) I can't be completely sure that I'd ever heard the term "sexed up" as such: but making things "sexy" in order to increase their appeal is (or at least was) common marketing jargon.[/nq]
When I first saw it I assumed it was the result of some subeditor melging "make sexy" with "tart up" (or, if a gay male subeditor, perhaps "beef up").
"X (where X is a noun or noun phrase) up" is a common enough construction, though, and most neologisms that use it can be readily understood. I remember a sound engineer who used "dB up" to mean "increase the volume".

Ross Howard
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John Dean:
[nq:1]Albert's post prompted me to find a transcript of the original Gilligan item as broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at ... to the inclusion of dubious information rather than putting a presentational spin on information which was itself not contentious. Matti[/nq]
It's all good fun, idden it? The old Brit tradition of giving an enquiry terms of reference that only a narrow minded bigot could interpret as excluding the issues that prompted the enquiry in the first place and then appointing a narrow minded bigot to run it.
And now we're doing it again with the Butler report, which I could write now with 90% accuracy. But I'm telling you the plot ...!
John Dean
Oxford
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