Downing St. Memo - a hard lesson in revision history

Back in 2003, Tony Blair's government released the Downing St. Dossier, which turned out to plagiarized from US researcher. It was Microsoft Word's revision log that revealed how the dossier moved through the British government to Colin Powell.

Back in 2003, Tony Blair's government released the Downing St. Dossier, which turned out to plagiarized from a US researcher. It was Microsoft Word's revision log that revealed how the dossier moved through the British government to Colin Powell.

It's relevant today as we're talking about the problems of what metadata reveals, it might be worth a look at this Richard Smith memo from '03.

By reviewing Word's log, Smith discovered that the document had been touched by a number of high-ranking British officials.

Rev. #1: "cic22" edited file "C:\DOCUME~1\phamill\LOCALS~1\Temp\AutoRecovery save of Iraq - security.asd" 
Rev. #2: "cic22" edited file "C:\DOCUME~1\phamill\LOCALS~1\Temp\AutoRecovery save of Iraq - security.asd"
Rev. #3: "cic22" edited file "C:\DOCUME~1\phamill\LOCALS~1\Temp\AutoRecovery save of Iraq - security.asd"
Rev. #4: "JPratt" edited file "C:\TEMP\Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #5: "JPratt" edited file "A:\Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #6: "ablackshaw" edited file "C:\ABlackshaw\Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #7: "ablackshaw" edited file "C:\ABlackshaw\A;Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #8: "ablackshaw" edited file "A:\Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #9: "MKhan" edited file "C:\TEMP\Iraq - security.doc"
Rev. #10: "MKhan" edited file "C:\WINNT\Profiles\mkhan\Desktop\Iraq.doc"

JPratt is a Downing St official; ABlackshaw is the Prime Minister's press secretary's personal assistant; MKhan is the PM's junior press official. And how about that A drive in Revs #5 and 8? That's Pratt copying the document onto a floppy for Blackshaw to give to Colin Powell for his speech to the UN.

Interesting ... But here's something useful to know if you must use Word:

As a general rule, Word document files which are converted to RTF files, HTML files, or PDF files will not contain revision logs and other metadata.

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