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The Chilcot inquiry

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Continuing the Simon Carr review of the the inquiry when on the final day jack straw confirmed that the govt didn't want regime change as starting a war for that purpose was illegal, so obviously they needed to find another excuse. Look forward to reading the whitewash in 6 months time.

Chilcot has produced a wealth of material for historians and exorcists

Here's a "blink" summary of the Anglo-American relationship from a Derbyshire miner. "Blair started out all right but then he met that Doobya. And he walked with his arms out like he was carrying two big barrels. After that, Blair walked with two big barrels under his arms. That's what happened. You can tell about a man by the way he walks. Same as I say."

A verdict based on three seconds of observation may outperform a million words of evidence and years of inquiry. In that one glimpse is everything a busy person needs to know about why we went to war in Iraq.

The last day of the Chilcott Inquiry. They'd asked for Jack Straw to come back for a final go. Wily Jack, his voice like the shuffle of dusty paperwork. With his elisions and allusions, his dysjunctive conjunctions - he can make a paragraph mean what he wants. And if he can't, he can fall back on “the negotiating history” which shows the opposite of the obvious is actually the case.

He can write "very perceptive" on an MI6 suggestion for regime change, and then explain why that had nothing to do with the case for going to war (because that would have been "palpably illegal"). Of course Chilcott is out-gunned – but he does yet have the final word, and there are encouraging signs.

For the sake of natural justice, a tribunal has to allow a witness to respond to charges, if they want to lambast him in their report.

The charge Straw was confronted with was that the Government fraudulently blamed the French for the failure of a second UN resolution. In what he described as "a short question" Rod Lyne laid out a three-part steamer with highly placed officials saying they were instructed to blame Chirac even though they knew it wasn't the case.

In his reply Straw demurred, "Not instructions with a capital I." My guess is they'll get hammered for this and some other administrative crimes.

In Jack Straw's favour, it is probably true he was sacked because he said the bombing of Iran was "inconceivable". He still says the approach to that country should be "more carrot than stick".

Compare that with Tony Blair's Götterdämmerung declaring “with all the passion I can summon" that Iran had to be bombed, beaten up and invaded. Or, as he put it, "confronted". In order to believe he did nothing wrong on Iraq he has to believe that the same should happen to Iran.

Cynics would say he was addressing the US in those words. "Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also," as it says in the Bible (it explains why you can't serve God and Mammon).

It's been one of those peculiarly British things, the Chilcott panel, a celebration of the amateur spirit. None of the panel had any experience in questioning, and you could see them being rocked and rolled by energetic witnesses. But Chilcott - like Hutton - has produced a wealth of materials for historians, student and exorcists.

Whatever the verdict, it is surely impossible to believe that Blair took us to war in Iraq without an ulterior purpose. And the fact that he and Alastair Campbell “stand by every word" shows they disagree with all that cant about "learning lessons".

Same as I say.

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Naughty man did bad thing

A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor.

In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

Laurie, who was director general in the Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for commanding and delivering raw and analysed intelligence, said: "I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you … when he stated that the purpose of the dossier was not to make a case for war; I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given."

He continued: "Alastair Campbell said to the inquiry that the purpose of the dossier was not 'to make a case for war'. I had no doubt at that time this was exactly its purpose and these very words were used."

Laurie said he recalled that the chief of defence intelligence, Air Marshal Sir Joe French, was "frequently inquiring whether we were missing something" and was under pressure. "We could find no evidence of planes, missiles or equipment that related to WMD [weapons of mass destruction], generally concluding that they must have been dismantled, buried or taken abroad. There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country."

The document is one of a number released by the Chilcot inquiry. They include top secret MI6 reports warning of the damage to British interests and the likelihood of terrorist attacks in the UK if it joined the US-led invasion of Iraq.

However, a newly declassified document reveals that Sir Kevin Tebbit, then a top official at the Ministry of Defence, warned the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, in January 2003 that the US would "feel betrayed by their partner of choice" if Britain did not go along with the invasion.

Despite its concerns, MI6 told ministers before the invasion that toppling Saddam Hussein "remains a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies".

Laurie's memo raises questions about the role of Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who later became head of MI6.

Who'd a thunk it, eh? - Mr Tony turns out, shockingly, to be a fibber of the most unscrupulous kidney

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Smear, to begin with. At least until the calls to reopen the David Kelly inquiry die down.

Though if they can give Blair the title of "Peace Envoy", perhaps they think they can act with total contempt for everyone on everything, in which case anything goes. A bit of fuss in a couple of papers, then everyone's back watching Strictly Come Eastending or something.

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They're not the Gov't any more - not so easy to co-ordinate a smear.

if the rest of the intelligence bods share the sentiments of yer man, it'll be very hard to smear him without his colleagues jumping in to an extent and saying "No, he's a good man and he's right".

Campbell Blair etc. are not in a position the same to do the dirty on him.

If the Tories/LD gov't try it, what have they to gain, really?

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seems Blair could have a bit more to answer for ??

This is a shaming story of skulduggery, double-dealing and cover-up involving the last Labour government and the security services. I am afraid the Coalition does not come too well out of it either.

We already knew that in March 2004 Abdel Hakim Belhadj, now a senior military commander in the new Libya, was abducted in Bangkok by CIA agents apparently acting on MI6 information and flown to Tripoli, where he was allegedly tortured, and undeniably imprisoned for six years by Colonel Gaddafi.

This was bad enough, implicating as it did MI6 in rendition and torture.

But the story has been made much, much worse by extraordinary new developments.

First, Abdel Hakim Belhadj’s wife, Fatima Bouchar, has described to the Guardian newspaper how she, too, as part of the same rendition, was forcibly flown from Bangkok to Libya by the CIA while four-and-a-half months pregnant. For five days she had been chained to a wall without food before being taped to a stretcher and put aboard the aircraft. Of course, we should remember that this is her account.

Second, one of the BBC’s most respected reporters is claiming that the Blair government approved and knew about Belhadj’s rendition at a ministerial level – something previously categorically denied both by Mr Blair and the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. The BBC, usually ultra-cautious in such matters, would not have made such an explosive claim unless it was sure of its ground.

Third, this newspaper has learned that MI6 wants to offer Belhadj ‘hush money’ to avoid his making extremely damaging revelations in open court, though he seems likely to refuse such an offer and is demanding an apology. I say ‘open court’ but under this Government’s new secret justice proposals it is precisely this sort of civil case that in future would be held behind closed doors, supposedly to protect the identity and techniques of secret agents. In this instance the true purpose would be to conceal MI6’s involvement in rendition and torture, as well as the subsequent cover-up.

All this is so serious, damning and dishonouring to the good name of this country that one’s immediate instinct is to hang one’s head in shame and despair. It was bad enough to suspect that MI6 had been involved in rendition, whose inescapable bedfellow is torture. To be told that so-far-unnamed ministers in effect sanctioned these methods is mortifying.

The background to this shocking affair was Tony Blair’s decision to rehabilitate Col Gaddafi, despite the Libyan dictator’s past funding of the IRA, the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher by a Libyan ‘diplomat’ in London in 1984, and his ordering of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 which caused the deaths of 270 people, 43 of them British – not to mention his persecution of his own people.

There were some respectable reasons for getting closer to Gaddafi, though they did not justify the price paid. Mr Blair calculated that, with Saddam Hussein toppled, Gaddafi would be anxious to talk, and prepared even to give up his so-called weapons of mass destruction. For Britain there was the promise of trade. Shell and BP wanted to move into Libya, as did a host of other British companies.

But Gaddafi wanted a morsel first – Abdel Hakim Belhadj. An incriminating letter dated March 18, 2004, from Mark Allen (now Sir Mark), then head of counter-terrorism in MI6, was discovered in Libya last year after Gaddafi’s fall. It shows the extent of British involvement. Sir Mark congratulated Musa Kusa – Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, guilty of many atrocities – on the ‘safe arrival’ of Belhadj.

‘This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years,’ he wrote. Sir Mark added that No 10 was ‘grateful’ for Musa Kusa’s help, though he was probably referring to his role in arranging a visit by Tony Blair to meet Gaddafi in Libya.

That visit took place two weeks after Belhadj’s rendition, when Mr Blair embraced Gaddafi in a tent in a desert, a meeting conceived by Mr Blair for PR purposes, according to that letter from Sir Mark Allen. A further meeting followed. Lucrative deals were signed. Under the Labour government weapons worth tens of millions of pounds were sold to the Gaddafi regime.

There was also the infamous ‘prisoner exchange agreement’ which blatantly favoured Libya, eventually leading to the premature release from a Scottish prison of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who had been convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

Mr Blair also profited personally from the connection. After standing down as prime minister in June 2007, he visited Libya several times, once reportedly on behalf of the American bank J.P. Morgan, which was anxious to develop opportunities in the country. Gaddafi’s son Saif later said that Mr Blair was a ‘personal family friend’ who had visited Libya ‘many, many times’.

Everything that has happened flowed pretty directly from the rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj and his wife in March 2004. I make no claims for Belhadj: he may well be an Islamic extremist, though he could hardly be worse than Gaddafi. Moreover, he is now supposed to be on ‘our side’, or at least one of the rebels on whose ‘liberation’ the Coalition recently lavished billions of pounds.

Strategic connection: After Tony Blair stood down as Prime Minister, he regularly made trips to Libya and was descibed by Gaddafi's son Saif as a 'family friend'

The point is that British government ministers – not just MI6 – apparently delivered Belhadj knowingly to certain torture. And his pregnant wife was, by her own account, effectively tortured by CIA agents acting in collusion with MI6. No wonder the organisation wants to hush up this scandal.

What better proof could there be of the insidiousness of this Government’s planned secret courts?

Despite some recent concessions, it still insists on secrecy in civil compensation cases involving the security services where it can be claimed, however bogusly, that issues of national security are involved.

If this were ever to come about, we would almost certainly never learn about the full perfidiousness of what MI6 did in this instance.

The organisation’s misbehaviour and errors would be swept under the carpet – only to be repeated again when a leader as unscrupulous and morally elastic as Tony Blair next swaggers into view.

There will have to be an inquiry. In fact, David Cameron set up an official investigation in 2010 into ‘whether Britain was implicated in the wrongful treatment of detainees’ in the years following the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 but this has been suspended while police investigate Belhadj’s claims. It should be reconvened as soon as possible. There are credible allegations of another British-initiated rendition of two men from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Tony Blair and Jack Straw will have to answer accusations that they or other ministers approved the rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj in order to conciliate the monster Gaddafi. It will not be acceptable for Mr Straw to take refuge in the formula, as he has done previously, that ‘no foreign secretary can know all the details of what its intelligence agencies are doing at any one time’.

The credible claim – and I must say that it has been for a long time my strong suspicion – is that Labour ministers, and very probably Mr Blair and Mr Straw themselves, were complicit in rendition, and thus in torture. It is now up to them to demonstrate that this is not true, and that they did not lead what is supposed to be a civilised country into uncivilised ways.

From the Heil

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I missed it but did anyone see the Panorama show yesterday about the intelligence events leading up to the war  ?

 

Wonder if  Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a step closer to the Hague ??

Edited by tonyh29

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Well the opening post was correct

Whitewash completed ....

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why even bother

 

why didn't somebody at some point in the process just man up and say to those pressing for an enquiry 'look, we will not tell you the truth that's not how it works, here's a few million quid **** off somewhere hot and forget about it'.

 

the fact we will not be allowed to see what was agreed between chums tells us everything we need to know about what was agreed between chums

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The Chilcott Inquiry has agreed to publish the "gist" of the conversation between George Bush and Tony Blair.

Bush: "Saddam's a clearing in the woods , Let's invade"

Blair: "Yes Sir."

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