Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Hutton Whitewash Leaves Blair In Dock

Hutton Whitewash Leaves Blair In Dock


By David Miller

The Hutton report gave an immediate political victory to the Blair government. But the all-embracing nature of the whitewash means that a spectre is haunting the Blair government. By bracketing off the issue of the reliability of the September 2002 dossier and – not widely noticed – whether the government knew it was unreliable, he fails to put the government in the clear in the wider court of public and world opinion.

According to Campbell, Hutton shows that 'the government told the truth, the Prime Minister told the truth, I told the truth'. Similarly Blair claimed that the allegation that he had 'misled the country' is itself the 'real lie'. But Hutton did not say that the claim that the government 'probably knew' was untrue. He said it was 'unfounded' - not necessarily the same thing – and he defined his terms of reference so narrowly that questions of intelligence were ruled out. His conclusions on the claim that Iraq could launch chemical and biological weapons in 45 minutes, precisely echo Blair's attempt to spin the BBC report. 'The idea that we authorised or made our intelligence services invent' the evidence 'is absurd' said Blair on the day after the original Radio Four report. Hutton exonerates the government on the grounds the 45-minute claim was regarded by the intelligence agencies as 'reliable'.

But the allegation on the BBC was not that the intelligence on the 45 minutes claim was invented or even untrue but that it was 'sexed up'. As Gilligan himself put it on the 29th May 2003, the information 'did come from the [intelligence] agencies'. The 45 minute claim in the dossier was that Iraq 'can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of artillery shells, free-fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles… the Iraq military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so' (p.17). This claim involves at least three separate falsehoods known at the time. First, that the chemical and biological agents existed and were weaponised, which the UN reports used as evidence by the government in the dossier suggested was untrue. Second, that the Iraqi's had long range delivery mechanisms in breach of UN resolution 1441; also suggested by the UN to be untrue. Third that such weapons could be deployed in 45 minutes. The claim on 45-minutes was revealed at the Hutton inquiry by both John Scarlett of the JIC and Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, to refer only to battlefield weapons, which was known at the time by the government. Hutton, in other words, exonerates the government of something of which they were not accused.

The wider issue this raises, is the further erosion of public trust in the mechanisms of liberal democracy leading to an ever increasing need for the Blair government to use all possible means of deception and spin to maintain power in the face of a deeply sceptical electorate. Blair appear not to recognise the magnitude of the allegations against him claiming that 'there could not be a more serious charge' than that of 'deception, duplicity or deceit'. But, in fact the case against Blair not simply 'deception' but deception with the purpose of a pre-emptive attack on a third world nation already crippled by sanction resulting in up to 40,000 deaths. The allegation in other words is of war crimes in which duplicity and deception performed a key strategic role. It is this which is the spectre which will continue to haunt Blair and his government.

http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk

**************

© Copyright 2004 David Miller.

David Miller is the editor of "Tell Me Lies: Propaganda & Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq" Pluto Press. http://staff.stir.ac.uk/david.miller/publications/Tellmelies.html

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Veronika Meduna on The Dig: Kaitiakitanga - Seeing Nature As Your Elder

The intricate interconnections between climate change and biodiversity loss, and how this disruption impacts Māori in particular. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On China And Hong Kong (And Boris)

In the circumstances, yesterday’s move by Lam to scrap – rather than merely suspend – the hated extradition law that first triggered the protests three months ago, seems like the least she can do. It may also be too little, too late. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Ensuring Boris Gets Blamed For Brexit

Everyone needs to step back and let Johnson have his ‘no deal’ Brexit, since that’s the only way of making sure that the current Tory leadership gets to wear the consequent turmoil. More>>

ALSO:

Dave Hansford on The Dig: Whose Biodiversity Is It Anyway?

The DOC-led draft Biodiversity Strategy seeks a “shared vision.” But there are more values and views around wildlife than there are species. How can we hope to agree on the shape of Aotearoa’s future biota? More>>

ALSO:

There Is A Field: Reimagining Biodiversity In Aotearoa

We are in a moment of existential peril, with interconnected climate and biodiversity crises converging on a global scale to drive most life on Earth to the brink of extinction… These massive challenges can, however, be reframed as a once in a lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change how humanity relates to nature and to each other. Read on The Dig>>

ALSO: