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Thursday, June 05, 2003
A barnstorming performance

One of my personal contacts in the labyrinth of British journalism offered me the following penetrating analysis of parliamentary events in London yesterday
In an amazing performance in the House of Commons, Tony B liar, a prime minister of some note, laid about him vigorously: 'I - did - not - have - sex - with - that - woman,' he expostulated. His critics were rendered impotent, all accepting the denial at face value. The Prime Minister subsequently won what was effectively a vote of confidence with ease.
Nobody seemed to notice that he was supposed to be answering different questions. For example, he was unable to shed any light on John Reid's allegations of 'rogue elements' in the security services, preferring simply to express his confidence in the intelligence community generally. And, when it came to dissatisfaction with the way Number Ten had used intelligence, he said that the Joint Intelligence Committee (one of the Premier's playthings, not entirely composed of intelligence officers) was satisfied with the published dossier. He did not properly address the more general issue of using unsubstantiated intelligence.

It was left to Robin ('I did have sex with that woman') Cook to ask a poisoned but penetrating question. He offered Mr 'Float like a butterblair' an opportunity to dissociate himself from 'WMD's, ready at forty five minutes' notice'. Of course, the chance was left languishing among the dispatch box detritus. More significantly, Mr B liar continued to associate himself with 'intelligence' about attempts by Iraq to import uranium ore. El Baradei had, as we know, comprehensively rubbished the documentation about these supposed imports before the UN Security Council. I wonder why Mr Butterball declined Mr Cock's 'get out of jam free' offer.

So here's another puzzle: which is the real intelligence service? Is the PM sticking with the intelligence sources that approved 'not authentic' information about Iraq's nuclear capability or does he prefer those sources infested with 'rogue elements'?

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