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

February 28, 2017
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East: Iran as the Solution, Not the Problem
stclair
Big Brother Capitalism Strikes Back
Stephen Cooper
Trump’s Pusillanimous Immigration Policy Imperils the Public and the Police
Vincent Emanuele
The Madness of U.S. Empire
Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec
We Need the Endangered Species Act Now More Than Ever
David Underhill
Oops, They Did It Again: Crowd Bowls Over Rep in Beery Alley
John Eskow
Jimmy Kimmel is a Total Dick and Other Reflections on the Oscars
Steve Horn
Trump’s Top Energy Aide, Mike Catanzaro Peddled Climate Change Denial
Jack Random
The Trump Diaries: Week Five
Robert Fisk
The Education of Marine Le Pen
Pauline Murphy
Felicia Browne’s Fight Against Fascism
Mary Lynn Cramer
Fearing the Trump Impeachment
Mel Gurtov
While Our Attention is Elsewhere, Climate Change Worsens
Dan Bacher
Extinction 2017: California Edition
Abel Cohen
The Trojan President: America Never Saw It Coming
February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail