FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hutton Whitewash Leaves Blair in the 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 Alastair 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 Andrew 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 involves 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 appears 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 involves 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.

DAVID MILLER is the editor of “Tell Me Lies: Propaganda & Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq” Pluto Press. He can be reached at: david.miller@stir.ac.uk

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail