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Year 2010 No. 3, February 9, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Chilcot Inquiry:

The Truth Will Out!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Chilcot Inquiry:
The Truth Will Out!

For Your Reference:
Sir John Chilcot's Closing Statement

Cutting Clare Short: A Withering Attack on the Tony Blair Government's Decision to Wage War on Iraq

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Chilcot Inquiry:

The Truth Will Out!

The Chilcot Inquiry has just completed its first round of public hearings. The predictions that it would be a cover-up have proved in essence true, but at the same time it can be seen that the truth will out! Enquiries such as these have as their raison d’être to let the guilty off the hook, to take the sting out of the demands for justice, and to keep salient facts hidden. This is what happened with the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly, and has been the modus operandi of Royal Commissions for a long time. The government is then able to claim that an inquiry has been held, the matter has been investigated, and that is the end of the affair, and opposition has been stifled and justice perverted.

In a sense, the government has this time been caught by the demand for an inquiry into the origins of the war against Iraq, and who is culpable. The strength of the anti-war movement and the demand for a government that is based on the principle and outlook of being anti-war have been consolidated, not dissipated over the past seven years. Much as the politicians from the Cabinet of 2003, and the media hacks who seek to justify aggression from their position of chauvinism and disdain, have tried to dismiss the importance of international legality and the norms and principles of international conduct, the people are aware that this is a central issue. The more those appearing before the Chilcot Inquiry have tried to wriggle free from and sidestep this issue, the more has the anger of the electorate grown against those responsible for aggression.

Despite the fact that voices such as those of Robin Cook, the architect of the concept of an "ethical foreign policy", of David Kelly, and others who could point the finger at the war criminals, are absent from the inquiry, despite the hand-picked nature of the interrogators, despite the kid-glove approach of the questioning, Tony Blair and his advisors of the time have incriminated themselves before all those who have eyes to see.

In fact, it could be said with justification that the aim of the Chilcot Inquiry has been to gloss over the illegality of the war against Iraq in order to justify and prepare for further aggression at this time. The US-imperialist-led "surge" is taking place in Afghanistan, and British troops are spearheading stepped-up aggression. The number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan has reached that of the number killed in the Malvinas War. Yemen has been singled out as a "terrorist" base. Iran is being targeted as a "rogue" state. And all this is being done under the guidance of a so-called "moral compass", a doctrine which suggests that perpetual war is necessary in order to preserve the peace. In other words, the aim has been to justify "conviction" politics, and sideline and dismiss international legality.

Tony Blair and his ilk have for long claimed that the morality and legality of the post-war Nuremberg Tribunals and the terms of the various Geneva conventions are out of date, and must be jettisoned in our era of "globalisation". He has for long claimed that what counts are not these international norms, nor the hard facts about whether the pretexts for aggression, such as possession of WMDs or the alleged dictatorial nature of a government, were in fact the case. For Tony Blair, what has counted is that he felt it was right to overthrow the regime of a sovereign country by armed intervention, and for that he is answerable only to his Maker and not to the people. His moral conviction is his authority and not the authority derived from the electorate to whom he refuses to be answerable. The point here is that those of the political elite not only are not challenging this conviction politics but are its heirs and upholders.

It is clear that Tony Blair just does not get it. He sees the demand for him to be accountable for his actions as a search for a "conspiracy". He shrugs off the weight of public opinion that he has a case to answer for violating international law by suggesting that now the international community should prepare to invade Iran. The ruling elites of Britain and the US have not been slow to set up international criminal courts, as long as they can be certain that they themselves are absolved from being in the dock. But sooner or later the chickens will come home to roost.

Like the generals who sent millions to their slaughter in the inter-imperialist First World War, and at best had their consciences salved by finding comfort in faith in the Almighty, the Tony Blairs of this century have created hell on earth in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and elsewhere. Their dreams of empire belong to another time and another place, but not to the progressive humanity of the 20th or 21st centuries, who demand that the principles of anti-war governance must be upheld, or else war criminals must be tried for their crimes.

The Chilcot Inquiry and the facts that despite it have not so much been uncovered as put into the public domain, have shown that a change in the system of governance is necessary and urgent. The present government has been trying to suggest that the remedy will be to emphasise the sovereignty of parliament, and ensure that the decision to go to war, to sign treaties and so on, rest with parliament and not with the executive alone. But this in itself will not rid Westminster democracy of the feudalism against which Gordon Brown has spoken, and make the democracy "modern". Within the status quo, there is no opposition to the feudalism of the "monarch in parliament" in which the authority ultimately derives from divine right and not from the people.

The proceedings of Chilcot have underlined that the fight for the principles of anti-war governance must come from an organised electorate, who elaborate and unite the people around such principles as that contradictions between countries must not be settled by force, that the sovereignty of all states must be respected, that all states, big or small, be treated equally by virtue of their respective rights to be, that there can be no British troops on foreign soil. Chilcot has underlined the necessity to go into the impending general election with the banner of the fight for an anti-war government held high, and that the doctrines of all those who justify the violation of these principles must be exposed.

War Criminals Must Be Brought to Justice!

Fight for an Anti-War Government!

Article Index



For Your Reference

Sir John Chilcot's Closing Statement

Closing remarks by Inquiry Chairman Sir John Chilcot, February 8, 2010

Today we are almost at the end of the Iraq Inquiry’s first round of public hearings. We will hear from the current Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary in a few weeks time but, given the considerable interest in the Inquiry and its approach, and to prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings, my colleagues and I have decided to set out the current position as the Inquiry sees it.

The Iraq Inquiry is here to establish a reliable account of the United Kingdom’s involvement in Iraq, based on all the evidence, and identify lessons for governments facing similar circumstances in future. We are committed to being open and transparent about how we are approaching our task and the information we are receiving. This is the first inquiry of its kind in this country to have hearings broadcast on television and streamed on the internet, and tens of thousands of people have been watching the evidence sessions on our website. So far there have been nearly three quarters of a million hits on our website, where people can access more than 150 hours of video recordings and thousands of pages of transcripts of the evidence, as well as the documents which have been declassified during the hearings.

The initial hearings served two purposes. The first phase, largely before Christmas, set out to establish the narrative account of the United Kingdom’s involvement in Iraq. In the last four weeks, we have focussed on the major decision makers - the politicians and senior officials, military and civilian – to examine why they made their decisions. Conducting the inquiry in this way has allowed us to hear a range of different perspectives about the same events. The evidence we have been given so far has provided a much more detailed account of the United Kingdom’s military action against Iraq, and subsequent commitments, than has previously been brought together in public.

These public hearings are perhaps the most obvious aspect of our work. They are only one element of our inquiry although an essential one. The great bulk of our evidence is in tens of thousands of government documents. Many of them are highly classified. They allow us to shine a bright light into seldom-seen corners of the government machine, revealing what really went on behind the scenes before, during and after the Iraq conflict. Those documents form the central core of the Inquiry’s work. The Inquiry is still receiving more documents every week, and we have no reason to believe that any material is being deliberately withheld. We have published a small number of those documents during the hearings. I should emphasise that our access to documents is unrestricted. Publishing a limited number is a separate matter.

Over the next few months we shall examine all the evidence that we have received, including those documents. That will enable us to see where the evidence joins together and where there are gaps. Only then can we decide the further evidence we need, the issues and points which need to be clarified, and the identity of witnesses we may wish to question in the next round of public hearings in the summer.

In the meantime, we will be holding a number of meetings and seminars with a range of individuals, British and non-British, who we believe will be able to provide relevant information and insights. For example these could include veterans from the Iraq campaign and officials from the former American administration. We also hope to visit Iraq later in the year. We cannot take formal evidence as such from foreign nationals, but we can of course have discussions with them.

We shall also need a limited number of private hearings to get to the heart of some very sensitive issues, which are essential for our understanding. The terms under which we will hold hearings in private have been published on our website. We will, in due course, publish as much of that evidence as we can.

The Inquiry has broken new ground and a great deal has been achieved since the launch at the end of July and we aim to complete our report by the end of the year. I would like to thank all those members of the public who have taken the time to be present at the hearings. I would also like to thank the QE2 Conference Centre for hosting us so well over the last few weeks; to Bowtie for ensuring that our proceedings are filmed and transmitted; and lastly to our tireless stenographer and editor from Merrill Legal Solutions who work so hard to keep up with the witnesses and the Committee each day and provide complete transcripts for publication each evening. With those words of thanks, I would like to draw this hearing to an end.

Article Index



Cutting Clare Short: A Withering Attack on the Tony Blair Government's Decision to Wage War on Iraq

William Bowles, Creative-I, February 3, 2010

Back in February 2004 I wrote a piece about the GCHQ worker Katherine Gun who really did "break ranks" when she blew the lid on the UN spying operation and of Ms Short’s role in the run-up to the invasion, bits of which I think are worth reprinting here: "The dirty tricks campaign mounted against members of the UN Security Council that included bullying, bribery and blackmail by the US to get the half dozen recalcitrant members to endorse its invasion of Iraq (a campaign that amazingly failed), has yet again exposed the bumbling English political class as an inept and divided servant of US capital." Is there no end to Blair’s screw-ups? Apparently not as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision not to continue with its case against Katherine Gun for breach of the Official Secrets Act reveals. Apparently afraid that the defence would use the illegal nature of the invasion as part of its defence and that a jury would agree with Ms Gun, at the very last minute the Crown decided not to continue with the prosecution. [...]

"More’s the pity that Ms Short didn’t have the ‘courage of her convictions’ back when it counted, before the war was launched. Her argument, that she thought she would have more influence within the government’s inner circle than outside it, rings hollow when you consider the nature of the present-day politician and the opportunistic nature of the ‘political’ process, where expediency rules. I find it difficult to believe that Ms Short was not aware of how the ruling class rules and Rule #1 is; don’t break ranks. This is after all, the same Ms Short who voted for the war last March."

[...]

"I’m not troubled about myself. I’ve reached an age [58] and stage where I’m free to tell the truth and be responsible to my conscience." — Clare Short

"Hmmm but a year ago she hadn’t yet reached that age and stage? Perhaps she should go tell the victims of Blair’s imperialist war in Iraq that she is not troubled by her conscience, I’m sure they’ll understand. This is after all not an issue about the state of one’s conscience, it’s about right and wrong (let alone the illegality of the invasion), that Ms Short was surely aware of even at a younger age and stage of her life last March.

"What I can never escape from is the knowledge that in spite of all the hot air that gets expended and all the ‘breast-beating’ done by conscience-stricken politicians, the Iraqi people are nowhere to be seen in the ‘debate’. They figure not at all whilst the privileged members of the fourth richest country in world ‘debate’ the workings of the imperium.

"Where is Ms Short today as the US, with EU backing, dismembers Haiti through its proxies, Duvalier’s former death squads? Perhaps I’m old-fashioned in believing that principle comes first (even if leavened somewhat with hard-headed pragmatism). Clearly, Ms Short’s real problem is that she had to make a decision between her ‘principles’ and the threat of Labour losing power. This was after all the ultimate ‘threat’ that Blair used last March (‘back me or I’ll resign’). I don’t know the woman personally but surely she knows how the ‘game’ is played. She did say after Blair got elected leader of the Labour Party in 1994 ‘My God, what have we done?’ so it’s not like his neo-con agenda crept up on her unseen." — Blair outGunned and then brought up Short, 27 February, 2004. But okay, let’s give Ms Short the benefit of the doubt and that at long last she has spoken out in no uncertain terms, though even here her comments about the role of the UN is neither here nor there (Ms Short claims that she was persuaded to stay on with promise of UN involvement in reconstruction of Iraq, a somewhat different claim than the one she made back in 2003, that she thought she would have more influence within the government’s inner circle than outside it).

But even the craven Ms Short’s remarks at the Chilcot "inquiry" was a step too far for the ruling elite as the state/corporate media’s response to her testimony illustrates: "Clare Short took on the mantle of crowd-pleaser. She received a warm round of applause from the public gallery after three hours of evidence.

"This was not the most dramatic session of the inquiry, but it was by far the most entertaining.

"To the disquiet of the stenographer, she maintained a furious pace in what amounted to a withering attack on Tony Blair’s government and on the workings of Whitehall.

"Words like ‘deceit’, ‘misled’, ‘conned’, ‘secrecy’ and ‘shocked’ were at the heart of her testimony. It was easy to see why some earlier witnesses to the inquiry had said Ms Short was difficult to deal with." — Clare Short says cabinet misled on Iraq war legality, By Peter Biles, BBC News, 2 February, 2010. Mr Biles definitely lives up to his name with these snide, sarcastic and patronizing attacks on Ms Short, illustrating the fact that if facts get in the way then ignore them and mount an outrageous character assassination instead. What happened to BBC’s much vaunted "objective" and "impartial" reporting (again, and see Chris Hedge’s excellent piece on "objective" journalism)?

Isn’t it amazing that when finally, a member of the political class really does break ranks with the status quo that they become "difficult to deal with" or in trying to minimize the impact of their testimony, they are nothing more than "entertaining". This is blatant propaganda that the BBC needs to be called to account for.

Not to be outdone a Channel 4 News Snowmail had the following to offer: "Clare Short has been up before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war and secured an ovation. Only two people have done that and both of them were women. What does that tell us about men and war?

"Her account of her exclusion from the decision to go to war makes great theatre but doesn’t, in fact, add much new to the sum total of our knowledge." — Short at Chilcot, Snowmail, Channel 4 News Email, 2 February, 2010. And what does it tell us about how the media deals "difficult" women? Do these "journalists" confer I wonder? No, they have no need to, they are all baked in the same pot (university). I don’t know who actually wrote the Channel 4 News email as it has no byline, but it has Jon Snow’s fingerprints all over it and if not him then an eager acolyte did the dirty work on his behalf.

What it does reveal is the immense power of the corporate/state media to set agendas on behalf of their political masters and do it in unbidden concert. Thus, a fictitious worldview is created that manages to be patronizing, demeaning and sexist, all at the same time!

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