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Monday, August 25, 2003
 
The Hutton treasure chest

I have spent ages poring over the pages of material submitted to and released by the Hutton enquiry. The press and TV have picked up many fascinating titbits but I can't help feeling that there are still important pieces of information yet to be recognised for their true significance.

For example, I watched a reading of some of Alastair Campbell's evidence on Sky News. I wasn't paying particular attention but it seemed that, although James Dingemans was pretty strict with the bully, he did allow him to use circular arguments once or twice. Tedious hours spent on the website have failed to find the relevant passages.

What I did find, though, was an official document, 'History of UN Weapons Inspections in Iraq', dated 20 June 2002, submitted by the Cabinet Office. I draw your attention to this document (CAB/3/0082-0095) on the Hutton website and to the following passage on pp. 0092-3
Richard Butler was requested to report to the UN Security Council in December 1998 and made it clear that, following a series of direct confrontations, coupled with the systematic refusal by Iraq to co-operate, UNSCOM was no longer able to perform its disarmament mandate.

As a direct result, on December 13 the weapons inspectors withdrew and Operation Desert Fox was launched by the US and the UK three days later.
Now, you will be aware that I have constantly pointed out that various politicians - Blair and Straw to name but two - have 'misleadingly' told us that the UNSCOM inspectors were thrown out of Iraq. It is clear from this report that the inspectors were withdrawn, as I have insisted all along. There was ‘Harassment of Inspectors by Iraq’ (CAB/3/0085) but nowhere does the report suggest that the inspectors were expelled. I put it to you, Mrs T, that if anyone in the government described the inspectors as 'having being thrown out' or 'expelled', especially after 20th June 2002, then they were lying. Let's just look at one example.

Tony Blair was challenged about this discrepancy on TV on February 6th by Jeremy Paxman. Unfortunately, the interviewer did not have to hand the text of such an explicit document. Blair argued that Paxman was 'splitting hairs'. One must hope that Hutton pursues such mendacity unmercifully and nails it as a blatant lie, especially if it comes from Tony Blair.

The Hutton Enquiry has an unfortunately narrow remit, courtesy of TB. Its terms of reference are '...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly'. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Kelly's death resulted from a determination to go to war with Iraq, no matter what. Even David Broucher's 'Dead in the woods' evidence points that way. In the run up to war, every possible piece of information was 'spun' to aid this enterprise and at least one obvious lie ('expelled' = 'withdrawn') was included. There will be a fall guy or two but will there be a discredited policy (inevitable war with Iraq), too?

OK Tony, if Hutton doesn't get you, there's enough stuff for the media to do it. And if they don't, there's always the bloggers. Be very afraid...


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