Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Iraq Inquiry: Nothing But The Truth?

The main point of the Iraq Inquiry is to establish whether the invasion was both justified and legal. On that basis I see absolutely no problem with Tony Blair and other witnesses giving their evidence in pubic, live on television. William Hague has questioned whether Blair will in fact be giving all his evidence in public.
According to Sir John [Chilcott], sessions will be held in private not just when national security is concerned but also when there is a need for candour. This is a worrying new caveat.
Indeed it is. No one would expect a former Prime Minister to reveal details relevant to national security in public, but equally some of us felt that at the time the former Prime Minister publicly misled the entire country about the national security reasons for going to war.

The caveat about candour should concern anyone. This may not be a court of law, but Sir John is entitled for witnesses to treat it as if it were. We need the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Meeting in private should not be a prerequisite for persuading witnesses to tell it.

53 comments:

Joe Public said...

"..establish whether the invasion was both justified AND legal."

So, the what's the conclusion if is found to be justified but NOT legal, or NOT justified, but legal?

DWaterson said...

Iain, I'm afraid I disagree - I have a strong objection to a live television appearance of Tony Blair's pubic evidence.

Childprotector said...

I hope there will be a public session on the issue that was revealed but skated over in the Hutton Inquiry and largely ignored in the Butler Inquiry - the pressure applied to the Intelligence Service by No 10 to drop qualifications to its advice in order to give it the justification to go to war. If the evidence was adequate, it did not need to be sexed up; if it was not, Blair and Jonathan Powell need to be examined on the reasons for No 10's requests for the evidence to be given a more positive gloss. Could it be that John Scarlett was being asked to adjust intelligence to justify a decision that had already been made? Surely not...

Childprotector said...

I hope there will be a public session on the issue that was revealed but skated over in the Hutton Inquiry and largely ignored in the Butler Inquiry - the pressure applied to the Intelligence Service by No 10 to drop qualifications to its advice in order to give it the justification to go to war. If the evidence was adequate, it did not need to be sexed up; if it was not, Blair and Jonathan Powell need to be examined on the reasons for No 10's requests for the evidence to be given a more positive gloss. Could it be that John Scarlett was being asked to adjust intelligence to justify a decision that had already been made? Surely not...

tankus said...

heh ..see that Blair is being called as a witness , and not as a defendant

Fausty said...

What would be the point in having an inquiry where witnesses were not frank, open and sincere?

That witnesses will not be under oath suggests to me that Labour intends for some of the witnesses to be imaginative with the truth.

Labour doesn't do truth. It 'creates' truth (Mandelson) and spins.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

The main point of this Iraq Inquiry is to make sure that neither Blair nor Brown can be connected to any dodgy or illegal decisions that were almost certainly made at the time.
Expect nothing!

Arden Forester said...

Sir John doesn't seem to get it anymore than all the other obfuscators and verbal twisters. We have had far too many deceits over the years. The public is crying out for the truth, especially over Iraq.

If Blair gives his candid answers in secret, then this inquiry will just be a precursor for yet another enquiry.

People want to see Blair speak publicly. Maybe there is nothing more to find out, nothing more to be said. But if it is said behind closed doors nobody but the favoured few will know the truth!

Anonymous said...

are you surprised?

by the way you have just reminded me that my house does need a make over, can't wait that long though till 2011 for the whitewash. The stuff I did have from hutton has only just run out. But the whole street was able to use it and both sides!

Anonymous said...

Forgive me for any unseemly cynicisim, but I'd never expected anything approaching "candour", or rigorous examination and analysis, from the enquiry.

norman said...

DC should put it in manifesto that if Tories win he would hold a public enquiry. It was IDS who was hoodwinked by Blair and proclaimed his support for the war and indirectly encouraged Blair to spin lies thus. As far this enquiry my wager is on a white wash.

Afghanistan should have been give attention rather than Iraq and here Blair failed singularly ( but then he is popular in America and cynics would say he supported Bush as he knew that after retirement he could benefit from his lecture circuit ; he is raking millions).

To me more important enquiry should be about Dr Kelly's death and hope that DC will arrange both to occur concurrently.

ken from glos said...

Iain,

The establishment always looks after itself, it is that simple.

Expect nothing from this enquiry bar a whitewash.

PhilC said...

The Franks Committee on the Falklands War took evidence from Thatcher in private. Good enough for her, good for Tony. Or is it less the principle and just a partisan point you make?

jailhouselawyer said...

Tony Blair: What Iraq war? What WMD? What Dodgy Dossier? What was the question again?

Anonymous said...

The real story is about Alastair Campbell's duplicity around the 45 minute minute claim.

If the enquiry doesn't address this it'll be as useful as a one-legged man in an arse kicking contest.

Lord Snooty said...

@PhilC

Good point about Thatcher and the Franks Inquiry. Iain once again pretends to be principled but is in fact partisan in the most transparent and shallow way.

Rumpole said...

How can an Inquiry of this kind pronounce definitively on the legality of the war? Surely only a court of law could do that.

I think you have completely the wrong idea about the fundamental purpose of the Inquiry.

Bullingdon Dave said...

Will IDS give his evidence in public? He was either an utter fool, totally negligent, or else complicit in the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez. Whichever way you look at it, the Quiet Man didn't exactly shower himself in glory in this affair.

Unsworth said...

OK, so what's Chilcott's understanding of the word 'candour'? Anyone know? Does he know? Or will he be instructed when 'candour' is necessary?

So much for his independence and his Inquiry's transparency. He's hung the white flag out of the window even before the opening shots.

How is he to recover his credibility?

trevorsden said...

"The main point of the Iraq Inquiry is to establish whether the invasion was both justified and legal." -- yet it would seem evidence is not under oath (else why the 'in camera' for candour option).
So we need to find out if something is 'legal' but without evidence under oath ???

No one can say for certain if the invasion was 'justified'. I think it was.
If the government feared Saddam was embarked on a programme which put security at risk than it was justified - indeed it was justified because Saddam had broken the terms of the ceasefire. That makes it legal as well.
Anyone can argue about the detail of the intelligence but the govt are entitled to draw its own conclusions - there is no chance of any 'proof' here.

The 'point' is were our forces properly used?
Were they properly resourced for their task (especially post the initial 'victory' phase). This latter phase - our loss of control of Basra - is the key military disaster of the campaign and be clear -- be very clear --- no matter how much you want to blame Blair /Brown et al (and some is due) it is the military who need to be brought to account as well.

And finally - irrespective of legality or justification - we we told the truth or merely spun to in the approach to the invasion?

Constantly Cretinous said...

I hear David Cameron has called you, Guido and Dizzy 'twats'. For once, the ruddy-cheeked posho talks sense...

Anonymous said...

You say that some of you *at the time* felt Blair was misleading people. How come IDS couldn't see this? Is he just a moron, or was he signed up to the supposed ulterior motives for war?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I seem to remember Blair uttering something on TV like 'we could all be toast in 45 mins let get em' - or something to that effect.

Can't you dig out the clip?

John Henry said...

What did you expect, Iain? This will be Hutton 2 and the main conclusions will of course back up the then Govt. Failures will be blamed on the underlings.

Reed said...

A fair point, PhilC.

Although, the justification for the Falklands war was very straight forward: British territory had been invaded militarily by another nation. The justification for the Iraq war was a very murky business and has since been shown to be one of the murkiest and most dishonest affairs in recent political history.
Those who created and then publicly propagated the now infamous 'dodgy dossier' should be seen to give their evidence in public. Mr. Blair, in particular, was incredibly passionate about his justification for the war and his defence of it afterwards. Both were made very much in full glare of the public, for all to see. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with hiding in the shadows now that some accountability is finally being required of them. If those involved at the time still believe that they did nothing wrong and that all their actions were fully justifiable, they should be more than eager to put the record straight publicly.

I think we ALL need to see Mr. Blair in particular questioned. He was the leader. He made the decision to join in this venture. The buck stops with him.

Timothy Wallace said...

There is more, on top of your concerns over just how candid statements will be in public or private, Iain.

Chilcot has argued that nobody would dare lie to him because of the damage caused to their reputations if they were caught out.

Has he not realised that there is a very great incentive, for anyone who has behaved badly, to lie to save their reputations?

Such apparent naivity will do nothing to boost public confidence in the results.

http://timothywallace.blogspot.com/2009/07/sir-john-chilcot-sounds-very-naive.html

Anonymous said...

the difference between the falklands and iraq wars

falklands our territory was invaded and we were attacked, we defended ourselves.
iraq we were never in any danger, blaircampbell sold the war to a very sceptical nations with lies. they should still be held to account. this enquiry will cost the taxpayer millions and will emphatically just end up as a whitewash, absolutely no question.
the government and establishment will always win.there is money to made here and thats what will happen.why would a government hold an enquiry if they were to be found wanting? it just aint gonna heppen but there's money to be made along the way.

Sue said...

What a complete waste of time and taxpayers money this charade will be!

In an ideal world, Blair, Bush and others would be on trial for war crimes.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Philc....you talk about principle....sorry but that is something Bliar wouldnt know much about...

There is a world of difference, as you well know, between recovering territory that has been illegally seized (The Falklands) and authorising an illegal war in pursuit of regime change. THAT is why Bliar needs to be compelled to give evidence in public.

If anyone could ever straighten that smaryarsed bastard out he`d be 10 foot tall......God save the Queen

Anonymous said...

We don't really need an inquiry into the legality - there is already sufficient evidence to prosecute Blair as it is. We should be taking the next step, which would be to signal to prosecutors at the Hague to press the button.

Jess The Dog said...

Sir John Chilcot was emphatic that anyone caught out - or suspected of - an untruth would face terminal public disgrace, and no further sanction was needed.

I listened with interest to the media questions. Most of these focussed on the legality of the war and decisions taken by Blair etc in 2002. The media and the public will keep this inquiry on track, unlike previous inquiries.

Blair should be very worried. He faces public disgrace either way - tell the truth or lie and be damned. There are enough pieces in the jigsaw - thanks to Hutton, Butler and a series of leaks - to be able to tell if Blair's own piece fits or not. The trickle of evidence will screw up Blair's EU President chances. Same with Campbell, who will hopefully be held to account for assembling propaganda pieces passed off as reliable intelligence.

There are enough retired soldiers and spooks out there to come forward with their own recollections, which may well differ markedly from the official record.

I think there is a large part of the Labour Party that wants to draw a final line under Iraq, regardless of what happens to Blair.

The tail end of this inquiry will be under a Conservative government and the report will be delivered to a Conservative-dominated Parliament. It is possible - but I think unlikely - that further action could be taken after the report is released.

I'll be watching closely here:

http://nottheiraqwarinquiry.blogspot.com/

golden_balls said...

suprise suprise i'll have to agree with PhilC

We've had the hutton and butler
inquiries and still they want more.

They won't be happy till an inquiry actually agrees with there views even now they discount the others that didn't.

Batteredstrat said...

Rules of Enquiry:

First decide the outcome,

Then choose the correct chairman to achieve that outcome.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that if you think the millions this will cost will actually be anything other than a complete and utter whitewash, you are sadly mistaken and will be sorely disappointed.

Not a sheep said...

Unless Tony Blair amongst others is under oath, wired to a polygraph and given a sodium pentothal injection first, I will find it hard to believe his version of events.

seebag said...

At the start of the Hutton enquiry I congratulated him on his planned approach. At the end I tore into him about the whitewash. I have this dreadful feeling of deja vu, and won't be wasting my breath this time around. I do hope Tony Blair is sleeping well at nights.

Martin said...

So Iain, Newsinght's BIG story is about...... migrant cleaners in 5 star hotels.

So Iain why isn't Newsnight talking about the large numbers of injured British soldiers returning from Afghanistan? figures released today and hardly reported by the BBC.

Why not? Newnight totally ignored the Government's pathetic U-turn about trying to steal back compensation for British soldiers (robbing left wing bastards like McSnot)

In fact when was the last time Newsnight actually ran an anti McSnot story line?

They flogged the Andy Coulson non story to death for weeks.

Edward said...

Reed said...
"... the justification for the Falklands war was very straight forward: British territory had been invaded militarily by another nation."

The Franks Committee investigated the actions of the Thatcher government PRIOR to the Falkands invasion.

It was set up because many people believed that the government should have taken action to prevent the invasion. There were numerous indications that the Argentines were preparing for it but the government turned a blind eye to them.
invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Bath plugs for the many, not the few said...

A few things, at least, are certain.

This enquiry will take a very long time (we've already been promised that); it will cost a great deal of public money; the conclusions will either constitute a whitewash, or be suspected by many of being just that; when it ends, calls for another enquiry will immediately follow.

Anonymous said...

but equally some of us felt that at the time the former Prime Minister publicly misled the entire country about the national security reasons for going to war.

Nope. Everyone with a brain realised from day one that the war criminal Blair was lying through his teeth in order to start (yet another) war. Anyone with a brain to look at Blair's record prior to 2003 saw that our Fearless Leader was a man obsessed with the international limelight, obsessed with his position in Washington and obsessed with war.

Anonymous said...

The Franks Committee on the Falklands War took evidence from Thatcher in private. Good enough for her, good for Tony. Or is it less the principle and just a partisan point you make?

Falklands War: a fascist dictatorship that was famous for (a) sheltering Nazi war criminals and (b) murdering tens of thousands of its own citizens invaded a British territory and took hostage around one thousand (1,000) British citizens. Six weeks of war led to total victory, the liberation of the islanders and the collapse of the fascist regime (and, incidentally, the creation of a viable Argentine democracy)

Iraq War: a weak regime that wasn't even capable of controlling the whole of its own country let alone threatening anyone else was invaded partly because of its oil reserves, partly because of the American president's psychological need to outdo his father and partly to advance the geo-political ambitions of the PNAC. The war drags on, six years on, and has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and injured; the region has been destabilised the region, the Iraqi government has been placed in the hands of Tehran's puppets and it is wholly likely that a sectarian/ethnic civil war will spring up soon between Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites. To make matters worse, the entirety of our rationale for invading has been exposed time and time again as a deliberate deception.

Wee bit of a difference between the Falklands and Iraq, no? Or maybe your partisan hatred of Thatcher drives you to equate an unprovoked attack on this country with your friend Blair's imperial adventures.

Anonymous said...

There were numerous indications that the Argentines were preparing for it but the government turned a blind eye to them.
invasion of the Falkland Islands.


And yet the Argentine regime, the Argentine military (then and now) and all extant records and archives of Galtieri's regime and the wider Argentine state show that the decision to invade the Falklands was taken a mere couple of days prior to the landing.

If the Argentines didn't know they were going to invade the Falklands until the last few days of March 1982, it's hard to see how anyone in Britain could have foreseen it. But God forbid we let simple reality get in the way of the Two Minute Hate against Margaret Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

I fully expect a re-run of Hutton.

These kinds of enquiries are always useful as they provide a way to take the heat off pols until the whole thing has been more or less forgotten.

The old line 'we mustn't prejudge the results of the enquiry' always works pretty well.

When the report finally appears, we can expect something along the lines of 'mistakes were made'. 'lessons have been learned' etc etc.

And of course no one will be to blame, still less held accountable.

Stronghold Barricades said...

If Bliar is found to have been economical with the truth, is that treason?

I wonder how many volunteers there would be to carry out sentence?

Can we get a sequestration order on that too?

VotR said...

The Inquiry will be the biggest whitewash yet. The David Kelly / Hutton inquiry was enough to convince me of that.

A few slapped wrists in 2011 after the election and whiskey's in the lounge afterwards.

So corrupt it's almost funny.

Who can hold to account those who hold others to account? No one.

Anonymous said...

oh how the left hate thatcher, they even want to re-write the history of the falklands war to prove it.but you would expect nothing less from then would you?

Ivor Bigot said...

This is going to be a complete joke. Blair is nothing short of a war criminal, and should hang for the deaths he has directly caused. Nothing less.

However, all we can expect is a bit of hand-wringing and "benefit of hindsight" nonsense.

Bob B said...

The truth - or part of it - is already out in this secret government memo of 23 July 2002 leaked to the press for publication on 1 May 2005:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article387374.ece

The secret, UK eyes only memo includes this passage:

"C [by tradition, the title of the head of MI6] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

The existence of this memo has never been officially denied.

Chalcedon said...

It should be under oath. Anything less is suspect.

tankus said...

shock ...horror ..labour defense minister actually tells the truth ...

that he's a retard

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203382/We-failed-Armed-Forces-Iraq-Afghanistan-Defence-Secretary-Bob-Ainsworth-admits.html

Grumpy Old Sod said...

"The Iraq Inquiry: Nothing But The Truth?"

Dream on. It will be another Whitehall whitewash with arch war criminal Bliar trotting out the same old rubbish as he has done ever since he did what his buddy George F Bush told him what to do.

Pathetic waste of even more taxpayer's money.

Grumpy Old Sod said...

Pity that David Kelly won't be there to chuck the odd spanner into the proceedings' works.

Reed said...

Edward said:
'It was set up because many people believed that the government should have taken action to prevent the invasion. There were numerous indications that the Argentines were preparing for it but the government turned a blind eye to them.'


I believe there was an accord set up by the Americans (allied to both UK and Argentina) to try and reconcile the differences and avoid conflict. As this meeting was about to take place, the General sent his troops in and the invasion took place.
I'm not sure you could claim that the UK government 'turned a blind eye'.
Rather, the beleaguered Argentinian dictatorship pulled a fast one in order to regain domestic popularity by stirring up nationalism with the use of the old wound of the Falkland Isles.