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:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail