The Guardian July 21, 2004


Whitewashing Blair's war guilt a farcical stitch-up

"Tony Blair must think that we were all born yesterday if he 
believes that the half-hearted apology for an inquiry announced 
yesterday by Jack Straw will be given more than a split second's 
credibility.

"Why didn't he go the whole hog and appoint Lord Hutton to chair 
it?"

That was the Morning Star's comment on February 4 when the 
Prime Minister acted quickly to set up the Butler inquiry into 
the intelligence material deployed to justify the Iraq war just 
hours after President George W Bush had announced a US inquiry.

It is worth looking back to counter any repeat of attempts by 
government apologists, in the face of outrage at the Hutton 
inquiry whitewash, to claim that people had agreed to the inquiry 
and must welcome its findings.

Anti-war campaigners had no confidence in any Establishment 
inquiry.

They expected a farcical stitch-up this time and were not 
disappointed, while the Liberal Democrats refused to nominate a 
member to the committee, complaining that it would fail to 
investigate political responsibility.

In fact, Butler's report is an Establishment classic of its kind.

It can be summed as saying that things went wrong, some 
intelligence was flawed, reports may have left people with false 
impressions, but no-one really acted out of order, so don't pin 
blame on anyone and let's simply draw a line under the fiasco and 
try to do a little better next time.

This means that the false claims about Iraqi possession of 
weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of which Britain went 
to war, were soundly based but just a little inaccurate.

And if this has led to 15,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and the 
destruction of much of Iraq's infrastructure, then that's rather 
unfortunate, but it couldn't be helped.

The truth is that there were no chemical, biological or nuclear 
weapons.

The 45-minute readiness claim was fabricated. The documents 
revealing uranium exports from Niger to Iraq were forgeries.

The British and US intelligence services knew this, as did the 
Bush-Blair coalition of the lying, who decided in spring 2002 
that an invasion would take place a year later to fit in with a 
timetable that owed everything to this year's US presidential 
election.

Iraq was invaded precisely because it had no WMD. It was an easy 
touch.

The intelligence services in Britain and the US played along with 
the war plans, offering "evidence" that backed up the false 
claims, even as Hans Blix's inspectors, who were conducting a 
genuine search, were rapidly coming to the conclusion that WMD 
were non-existent.

They were complicit in the war crimes authorised by Bush and 
Blair, but they do not bear central responsibility for them.

As the Morning Star said, "The blame for that ongoing 
tragedy does not lie with the intelligence services. They don't 
send armies to war. Politicians do and Tony Blair did.

"No soft-soap inquiry, filled with Establishment pillars of 
sanctimony, can alter that fundamental truth."

And no soft-soap inquiry can clear the Prime Minister of foul 
deeds, which ought still to see his removal and subsequent 
arraignment before a war crimes tribunal.

* * *
Morning Star, Britain's socialist daily

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