...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 2381: Diary of a Nobody aka Lord Blairimort versus the Truth


"Mr Alistair Campbell, are you are lying liar who tells lies?"

That was the question that seemed to have slipped Mr Humpy's mind when he was interviewing Lord Blairimort's one-time Spin-Assassin[*] Mr Alistair Henchman on the The Today Programme.

[*] no, not a "doctor"; doctors make people BETTER.

This interview was part of Mr Henchman's ADVERTISING JUNKET aimed at selling more copies of his new book: "The Secret Diary of Tom Riddle aka Lord Blairimort".

Like the magical diary in Harry Potter, Mr Henchman's book MYSTERIOUSLY absorbs all the bad news stories and regurgitates a cleverly PARTIAL version of the truth. That is PARTIAL in the sense of one-sided as well as PARTIAL in the sense of NOT "the whole truth and nothing but the truth".

This is a process that we DO NOT call "sexing up" unless we want the full farce sorry force of a judicial inquiry to come crashing down on us like a tidal wave of whitewash.

And this is PROBABLY why Mr Humpy just sat there and took it while Mr Henchman claimed loudly that the Hutton Inquiry had ENTIRELY CLEARED the government, Lord Blairimort and most importantly Mr Henchman himself of ever, ever, ever uttering an untruth.

This is of course TRUE…

Well, at least it is JUST AS TRUE as the statement: "the Joint Intelligence Committee told us, entirely of their own volition, without ANY threats or electrodes or anything, that there are absolutely definitely certainly weapons of mass destruction in Iraq capable of devastating British territory (okay, bases in Malta) within forty-five minutes."

Lord Hutton, of course, found the BBC to be the ones at fault through the expedient of limiting the terms of his inquiry to precisely thirty seconds out of an early morning interview with Andrew Gilligan in which he made an (unrepeated) off-the-cuff remark that it turned out the BBC were unable to prove AT THE TIME.

i.e. that the Prime Monster's personal hatchetman press spokesperson had intervened to make the evidence in the government's dossier a bit less equivocal and thus the case for flattening a Middle Eastern country a bit more urgent.

The facts that had emerged during the course of his noble lordship's inquiry – as seen on telly by almost everyone – that (a) there were actually NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq making the dossier factually WRONG; (b) the original dossier from the Joint Intelligence Committee had used phrases like "may have" or "might be" where the final version said "does" and "is"; and (c) Mr Henchman was the one to make the "presentational" changes from "may have" or "might be" to "does" and "is" were all judged to be COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT because the BBC could not have proved it AT THE TIME.

Funnily enough, the public came to the conclusion that Lord Hutton was saying "the BBC are guilty even though they were right and the government are innocent even though the facts show that they are in fact guilty."

Lord Hutton will be appearing in KAFKA or possibly PANTOMIME this year.

Actually, an often OVERLOOKED detail is that there was ANOTHER dossier, the "February Dossier", the one that Mr Henchman originally published and claimed was the work of intelligence officers. But then he had to admit that this was only "true" in the sense that actually the dossier was a ten-year-old graduate thesis that had been downloaded off the internet.

However, Mr Henchman will tell you that you cannot hold this against him because it does not count as a lie since he admitted that it was a lie and therefore it isn’t one.

What Mr Henchman WILL tell you, and Lord Blairimort too and even someone like Mr John Rentoul as recently as a month ago so PERVASIVE has this INSIDIOUS MEME become, is that there have been FOUR inquiries that ALL cleared Lord Blairimort and the government of ANY wrong-doing over the illegal invasion of Iraq.

This too is TRUE…

Well, it is "true" in the same way that it is true that Lord Hutton cleared the government of ever, ever, ever lying and in the same way that it is true that the joint intelligence committee said that there absolutely were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq with no help from Mr Henchmen ever.

The "four inquiries" actually refer to inquiries conducted by:

1. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee
2. The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee
3. Lord Hutton, into the events surrounding the death of Doctor David Kelly
4. Lord Butler, into the intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction

First there were the two inquiries by House of Commons committees.

Remember that these were NOT independent committees: both were controlled by the Labour majority on the committee, and both were not only chaired by Labour MPs, but by Labour MPs who had demonstrated their loyalty to Lord Blairimort. Mr Donald Anderson, in particular, often appeared on radio and television defending the government's foreign policy decisions. Ms Anne Taylor is a former government Chief Whip.

1. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee
(7 Labour MPs, 3 Conservative MPs, 1 Liberal Democrat MP; Labour Chair)

"The Decision to go to War in Iraq"

Particularly pertinent are point 15:
"We conclude that without access to the intelligence or to those who handled it,
we cannot know if it was in any respect faulty or misinterpreted"

and point 29:
"We conclude that continued refusal by Ministers to allow this committee access
to intelligence papers and personnel, on this inquiry and more generally, is
hampering it in the work which Parliament has asked it to carry out."

So it is important to remember that their final conclusion (point 33)
"Consistent with the conclusions reached elsewhere in this Report, we conclude
that Ministers did not mislead Parliament."

should be qualified by the fact that they themselves say THEY CANNOT ACTUALLY KNOW THAT, and that Ministers have prevented them from doing their job.

In addition, the committee concluded that Lord Blairimort DID, albeit inadvertently, misrepresent to, if not mislead, parliament over the second dossier (the February dossier that became known as the "dodgy" dossier). Point 22:
"We further conclude that by referring to the document on the floor of the House
as “further intelligence” the Prime Minister—who had not been informed of its
provenance, doubts about which only came to light several days later—
misrepresented its status and thus inadvertently made a bad situation worse."

And the government was roundly condemned by the committee for producing the February dossier in the first place. Point 23:
"We conclude that it is wholly unacceptable for the Government to plagiarise
work without attribution and to amend it without either highlighting the
amendments or gaining the assent of the original author. We further conclude
that it was fundamentally wrong to allow such a document to be presented to
Parliament and made widely available without ministerial oversight."

2. The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee
(5 Labour MPs, 2 Conservative MPs, 1 Liberal Democrat MP, 1 Lord; Labour Chair)

"Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction – Intelligence and Assessments"

They begin by emphasising that they are not considering the correctness of the decision to invade (point A):
" This Report does not judge whether the decision to invade Iraq was correct. It
is the purpose of this Report to examine whether the available intelligence,
which informed the decision to invade Iraq, was adequate and properly assessed
and whether it was accurately reflected in Government publications. "

The conclusions of the report seem rather bizarre, with the benefit of hindsight of course, and can be summarised as "assuming what we thought we knew was right then the government dossiers were right".

For example, from point D:
" Based on the intelligence and the JIC Assessments that we have seen, we accept
that there was convincing intelligence that Iraq had active chemical, biological
and nuclear programmes and the capability to produce chemical and biological
weapons. Iraq was also continuing to develop ballistic missiles. All these
activities were prohibited under UNSCRs. "
Convincing the intelligence might have been, but the committee fails to address its accuracy. It was subsequently shown to be totally wrong.

Points F and G address the "45 minute claim"
" That the Iraqis could use chemical or biological battlefield weapons rapidly
had already been established in previous conflicts and the reference to the
20–45 minutes in the JIC Assessment added nothing fundamentally new to the UK’s
assessment of the Iraqi battlefield capability. Additionally, the JIC Assessment
did not precisely reflect the intelligence provided by the SIS."
" The JIC did not know precisely which munitions could be deployed from where to
where and the context of the intelligence was not included in the JIC
Assessment. This omission was then reflected in the 24 September dossier, which
we discuss later in the Report."

Which is a polite way of saying that the "45 minute claim" was overstated and not accurate.

The report goes on to list a number of important omissions and deletions that altered the presentation of the intelligence and, in their opinion, undermined the accuracy

Point J:
" Whilst the 9 September 2002 JIC Assessment was a balanced assessment of
scenarios, it did not highlight in the key judgements the uncertainties and gaps in the UK’s knowledge about the Iraqi biological and chemical weapons."

Point N:
" The use of the phrase “continued to produce chemical and biological weapons” in the foreword and the absence of detail on amounts of agents produced in the executive summary and main text could give the impression that Saddam was actively producing both chemical and biological weapons and significant amounts of agents. However, the JIC did not know what had been produced and in what quantities…"

Point O:
" Saddam was not considered a current or imminent threat to mainland UK, nor did the dossier say so. The first draft of the Prime Minister’s foreword contained the following sentence:

“The case I make is not that Saddam could launch a nuclear attack on London or another part of the UK (He could not).”

This shows that the Government recognised that the nature of the threat that Saddam posed was not directly to mainland UK. It was unfortunate that this point was removed from the published version of the foreword and not highlighted elsewhere."
Point P:
" The dossier was for public consumption and not for experienced readers of intelligence material. The 45 minutes claim, included four times, was always likely to attract attention because it was arresting detail that the public had not seen before. As the 45 minutes claim was new to its readers, the context of the intelligence and any assessment needed to be explained. The fact that it was assessed to refer to battlefield chemical and biological munitions and their movement on the battlefield, not to any other form of chemical or biological attack, should have been highlighted in the dossier. The omission of the context and assessment allowed speculation as to its exact meaning. This was unhelpful to an understanding of this issue."
Point S:
" We regard the initial failure by the MoD to disclose that some staff had put their concerns in writing to their line managers as unhelpful and potentially misleading. This is not excused by the genuine belief within the DIS that the concerns had been expressed as part of the normal lively debate that often surrounds draft JIC Assessments within the DIS. We are disturbed that after the first evidence session, which did not cover all the concerns raised by the DIS staff, the Defence Secretary decided against giving instructions for a letter to be written to us outlining the concerns."

Nevertheless, they felt able to conclude that (point L):
"…We are content that the JIC has not been subjected to political pressures, and that its independence and impartiality has not been compromised in any way. The dossier was not “sexed up” by Alastair Campbell or anyone else."

3. The Hutton Inquiry

As described above, Lord Hutton chose to interpret his terms of reference "into the circumstances of Dr David Kelly's death" to mean "why were the BBC to blame?" This meant he ignored any events that may or may not have occurred in Dr Kelly's place of work, namely a government office, or the actions of any of those people for whom Dr Kelly might have worked, namely Lord Blairimort and his government, and instead focussed on a man who… had met him.

4. The Butler Report
Lord Butler was asked to inquire into "the intelligence" that related to the decision to invade. He was specifically ruled out of looking into the role of any politician, and in particular the role of the Prime Monster in deciding that, hell, we might as well explode them anyway.

The Liberal Democrats refused to endorse the inquiry because of its ludicrously restricted terms of reference. They refused to endorse the inquiry IN ADVANCE because they examined the ludicrously restricted terms of reference and found that no meaningful conclusions could be reached by an inquiry so bound by the government.

At the time, Sir Mr the Merciless said:

"Don't you understand ... that following the public response to the Hutton report that an inquiry that excludes politicians from scrutiny is unlikely to command public confidence..."

The Conservatories joined the inquiry, signing up to the government’s ludicrously restricted terms of reference without thinking. Later they changed their minds and pulled out, complaining that the ludicrously restricted terms of reference– gasp! – looked like fixing the result.

In the end, Mr Something of the Night would famously bury himself by telling Lord Blairimort:

"The intelligence was wrong but we'd have voted for the war anyway!"

The Butler Inquiry actually reported that the intelligence had been "unreliable", which is hardly a resounding "not guilty", and Lord B himself subsequently went on record to express his mild surprise that no one had asked him if his report meant that the Prime Monster should resign. The answer would have been "yes".

The general public eventually concluded that Lord Butler had found the government guilty but had accidentally let them off the hook by expressing this in "mandarin" rather than "tabloid".

So, the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee Report cannot have cleared Lord Blairimort, because it did not address itself to the issue of whether Lord Blairimort was right or wrong to lead us to war against Iraq, nor whether he was truthful in what he told Parliament or the public.

The Hutton Report cannot have cleared Lord Blairimort, because it did not address itself to the issue of whether Lord Blairimort was right or wrong to lead us to war against Iraq, nor whether he was truthful in what he told Parliament or the public.

The Butler Report cannot have cleared Lord Blairimort, because it did not address itself to the issue of whether Lord Blairimort was right or wrong to lead us to war against Iraq, nor whether he was truthful in what he told Parliament or the public.

Only the Foreign Affairs Committee actually addressed the pertinent questions, ironically the committee that held its inquiry soonest after the war and had least access to witnesses or information. Subsequent events have cast considerable doubt over whether the FASC would have reached the same conclusions had they had access to all the information, not only the report of the Iraq Survey Group that Iraq probably had NO WMDs at the time of the invasion but also testimony of witnesses to the Hutton Inquiry.

So, remember that next time someone says that Lord Blairimort was “cleared four times”. THAT is how far you can get with the "TRUTH" from Lord Blairimort and his apologists.

The revelation in Mr Henchman's diaries that the Labour ministers like the Minister for Magical Accidents and nice Dr John Reid (whichever job he happened to be in at the time) had their doubts about invading Iraq just goes to show how FEEBLE Lord Blairimort's Cabinet were.

OBVIOUSLY, Lord Blairimort himself never had a moment of doubt. This is because Lord Blairimort is a MONOMANIAC!

Anyway, the general opinion of Mr Henchman's diary is that it is NOT VERY GOOD!

Not interesting enough to be a Wedgy Benn and not RUDE enough to be an Alan Clarke… mainly because all of the JUICY bits have been edited out. There are still SOME funny moments, though, as this list of so-called HIGHLIGHTS shows. Sort of.

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