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(sup) A Whiter Shade of White (on the Hutton Report)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 2 Feb 2004 16:40:45 +0100 (CET)


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From: Anarcho <cllv13-A-yahoo.com>
What a surprise. Blair's week of hell has turned out
to be no such thing. Few anarchists would have been
shocked by this.

The Labour backbenchers have shown their usual lack of

guts, many undoubtedly preferring to rebel just enough
to secure a future career in the party hierarchy than be
bothered about a broken election manifesto promise
(never mind such minor things as principles). The only good
news is that Blair's majority was slashed, although it is
doubtful it will cause him to reconsider his ways --
listening Tony does not have a reverse gear.

Lord Hutton's report has been even more beneficial. An

appointed law lord, a classic representative of the
British ruling establishment, has found the government

not guilty. The word "whitewash" springs to mind,
particularly given that Hutton decided to ignore and
what he concluded. For while his report bordered on the
laughable on many occasions, it went well into farce
territory when he pondered whether the "desire of the
prime minister to have a dossier which, while consistent
with the available intelligence, was as strong as
possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam
Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr
Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the
wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would

have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC
assessment"! Blair has many qualities, but being able
to "subconsciously" influence people is more fitting to
the realms of comic book superheroes than, say, a public
enquiry.

It must have only been Hutton who failed to notice all

those memos from Downing Street officials to Scarlett
asking for multiple changes in wording. After all, how

could those result in pressure to harden the dossier?
A far better explanation is subconscious influences,
although that was merely a "may have." Yes, of course,

these memos had no effect on the intelligence chief's
concern to accurately report the intelligence
available.
It merely took numerous rewrites to do this. It was a
mere coincidence that each one hardened the claims
contained within.

So when Blair's chief of staff asked John Scarlett to
redraft that part of the September dossier which
suggested Saddam Hussein might use chemical and
biological weapons "if he believes his regime is under

threat" and he did so, well, that was simply Scarlett
"subconsciously" pleasing his master. Similarly, when
Blair's chief of staff warned that a preliminary version
of the dossier contained no evidence that Saddam was a

threat, "let alone an imminent threat," and a mere
week later another version was produced which included the
claim that the Iraqi dictator had the capacity to
launch WMDs in 45 minutes that was simply a product of good
fortune. Or when Campbell asked Scarlett to change a
claim that the Iraqi military "may be able" to deploy
WMD within 45 minutes to "are able" that, too, simply
shows that the subconscious works in mysterious ways.

Not that such redrafting amounts to the "sexing up"
BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan quoted Kelly as complaining
about. No, not at all. Nor was "sexed up" the same as
being "over-egged," to use the expression of Brian
Jones, who managed scientists working at the Defence
Intelligence Staff. He said this to Hutton when
discussing how the assessments of the Iraqi threat
were being (ab)used as the dossier was compiled. Another
unnamed official at the inquiry also told how he and
Dr Kelly had discussed concern about the role of
government "spin merchants" in the dossier.

But that was not the only thing Hutton failed to
notice.
He ignored crucial facts and testimony, such as the
transcripts of interviews between a BBC Newsnight
journalist and Dr Kelly which corroborated much of
what Gilligan claimed, including the scientist's statement
that the 45-minute claim was "got out of all
proportion."
But, no, the dossier was not "sexed up." Why? For
Hutton,
the term "sexed-up" has two meanings. It "could mean
that
the dossier was embellished with items of intelligence

known or believed to be false or unreliable to make
the
case against Saddam Hussein stronger, or it could mean

that whilst the intelligence contained in the dossier
was
believed to be reliable, the dossier was drafted in
such
a way as to make the case against Saddam Hussein as
strong as the intelligence contained in it permitted."

Hutton took his remit to be the former, not the
latter.
For if it were the latter then "it could be said that
the
Government 'sexed-up' the dossier." So it is a happy
coincidence for Blair that Hutton limited the scope of

his enquiry to the former definition. Unless, of
course,
Blair's powers for "subconsciously" influencing others

was at work here too.

Perhaps that explains Hutton's failure to comment on
how
Blair could chair the meeting at which the strategy
for
outing Kelly was adopted and also later deny having
anything to do with it? Perhaps Hoon shares Blair's
powers? After all, Hutton failed to complain about
Hoon
testifying his ignorance of the strategy to "out" Dr
Kelly while the MoD press chief later admitting the
Defence Secretary had been at a meeting when "the
approach we were adopting" was discussed. But in
Hutton's
world there was no "underhand strategy" to name Dr
Kelly,
so ignoring Campbell's diary entries in which he
confessed his desperation to get the scientist's name
out. Hutton also concluded there was no leaking, while

failing to wonder how the Times obtained the
information
that made it possible for journalists to identify Dr
Kelly. It is one of the many "awkward questions" that
the
Hutton report leaves unanswered.

Perhaps he was picked precisely on his ability to
ignore
what he, and all of us, heard at his inquiry?
Subconsciously, of course.

So it appears that Campbell's strategy has paid off.
By
narrowing down everything dodgy about the Iraq war to
the
single question of what a BBC reporter said in a few
seconds one early morning, Campbell has sidetracked
the
key issue. Namely, whether the war in Iraq was really
necessary or were WMD simply used as a fig leaf for
imperial ambitions and reasons of state. It
constrained
the scope of the Hutton inquiry marvellously -- a
constraint which Hutton himself seemed to have
tightened
voluntarily ("subconsciously"?) himself.
Significantly,
Hutton felt capable of breaking those constraints and
widening his remit when it came to attacking the BBC.
Unsurprisingly, the results were exactly what Blair
and
Campbell could have hoped for.

So, to summarise. Hutton attacked the BBC for allowing

one of their journalists to criticise the government
on
the basis of one uncorroborated report from a source.
Yet
he failed to attack the government for making the 45-
minute claim on the basis of a single uncorroborated
report from within Iraq.We should never forget that
while
Gilligan's report was wrong in one important respect,
the
rest of it was right. The 45-minute claim was inserted

late, there was disquiet in the intelligence
communities
about the dossier and there was an anonymous, single
source for the information. All of which Hutton
strangely
ignored. Sexed up? Fucked up, more like.

What is amazing is that Campbell could accuse the BBC
of
running an anti-war agenda. In fact, the BBC was the
most
pro-war of the 5 channels. But then again, some people

seem to think that the corporation is a hot-bed of
hard
leftism. Two things are true. Firstly, Hutton's report

will ensure that it becomes even more subservient to
the
government (its loyalty to the state can be taken for
granted). Secondly, it gave a clear message to any
civil
servant thinking of becoming a whistleblower what to
expect if they decide to follow their conscience.

What Hutton did not address is the simple fact that 16

months after the publication of the government's
dossier,
not a single WMD has been found. Not even one that
could
be prepared and used against another country in 45
minutes.

And on the basis of the Hutton report John Reid, the
health secretary, asserted he wanted to see a shift
from
the culture of a general allegation that "all
politicians
are self-serving and prepared to lie even about the
greatest and gravest matters like going to war"! And
people wonder why we anarchists are revolutionaries...

Anarcho
http://struggle.ws/anarchism/writers/anarcho/


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