The Guardian March 10, 2004


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.

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