Whitewashing the lies
Bob Briton Last week John Howard announced that former chief of the Office of National Assessments, Philip Flood, would conduct an inquiry into the alleged failings of Australia's intelligence agencies. The Government had previously rejected the idea of a further investigation into its spy organisations but quickly agreed to it when the report from Federal Parliament's Joint Committee inquiry into pre-war intelligence found that the Government had indeed exaggerated ("sexed-up") the case for war on Iraq and that "covert" pressures exist for spy agencies to give the Government the intelligence it wants. The new inquiry will NOT examine the "spin" that the government put on the intelligence supplied. Clearly, its objective is to let Howard, Downer and others off the hook and to heap the blame for the scandal surrounding the lies used to justify the war on Iraq onto the intelligence agencies. Philip Flood — also a former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to Indonesia — will have full access to intelligence material which was denied to the Parliamentary Committee. His report will be secret. The public will have to be satisfied with a "declassified" version. From Howard's point of view and that of the Coalition, the former spy chief is "eminently qualified" to do the job set for him. Few others would agree. Labor Senator Robert Ray — former Defence Minister and member of the committee that produced the Parliamentary report — dropped some of the Labor Party's "bi- partisan" understanding shown for the Government's problems — and criticised Howard's choice. "Philip [Flood] would have been at the bottom of the list" had the Opposition been consulted about the appointment, Ray told the media. Terms of reference The Greens and the Democrats, focused on the narrow terms of reference and the obvious attempt to bury the startling revelations revealed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee's inquiry. The Australian people can expect nothing but whitewash from the new inquiry in just the same way as the Hutton inquiry in Britain covered-up for Tony Blair. Slowly but surely Bush, Blair and Howard are being strangled by the web of deceit they spun to justify their illegal war, invasion and occupation of Iraq. The rock of truth is that Iraq did not and had not possessed any weapons of mass destruction for a number of years and was not in the process of preparing to manufacture them despite the existence of "plans". It passes belief that the intelligence agencies of the US and Britain did not know this given their highly sophisticated intelligence organisations, their possession of "spies in the skies" and the ability to scoop up every phone conversation, fax or email message in any part of the world. Another truth is that the invasion of Iraq had been planned a number of years ago and its objective had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction but the seizure of Iraq's resources, particularly oil, and the opportunity to establish military bases on Iraq territory. Even as the Iraqis are slowly moving towards a democratic and sovereign government, the US is building military bases which are intended to stay long into the future. These are the real objectives: the rest is "spin" and lies.