Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Mention The (illegal) War

The farce of a long-awaited 'inquiry' into warmongering Blair's illegal Iraq War has finally opened to a fanfare of fudge and a big dollop of whitewash. For months the public will have to suffer the charade of a parade with none of the powers of a full blown legal inquiry.

As one senior judge told the Guardian: "Analysing the war's legality was beyond the panel's competence. It does not include a single judge or lawyer."

The 'inquiry' is fronted by Brown's placemen working to a tight Downing Street remit. Brown was a member of Blair's war cabinet. How can this be independent of the very government which took the country to war on the back of a pack of lies? Another cover-up is on the cards.

No witnesses can be ordered to attend. No-one can be subpoenaed. No evidence will be given under oath. The 'inquiry' cannot reach a 'verdict', apportion blame or judge criminality.

Chilcot's opening statement today made that quite clear: The inquiry was "not definitive in the sense of a court verdict".

The public does want definitive answers. Why did Blair take this country to war illegally? Who else was in on the shameful act? But that legality isn't on the agenda. Unlike a full public inquiry, Chilcot has no legal standing to lay criminal blame or get to the bottom of the complex issue of the legality of the war.

Witnesses can lie through their teeth with no forensic legal mind to challenge them and no recourse to law. No final report will see the light of day until late 2010.

Chilcot, a former Whitehall mandarin and 'safe pair of hands', has been at pains to insist the 'inquiry' will not produce a 'whitewash'. Methinks the man doth protest too much.

The Orange Party remembers reeling in disbelief over the Standard's ludicrous '45 minutes' shock headline. Listening in a daze to Gilligan on Radio 4, spilling the beans on the 'sexed up' Iraq weapons dossier. Watching Blair's henchman Campbell storm into Channel 4 news live to rip the BBC and bully anyone who got in his way.

Watching the shameful spectacle of a witch hunt over government scientist David Kelly. Watching a reporter asking Blair if he had "blood on his hands" after Kelly's strange, still unexplained death.

Watching hundreds of thousands of protesters outside a duped parliament. The relentless spin of going to war to hunt down invisible WMDs rather than regime change, which would never stand up in an international court of law. Hearing Claire Short let slip Blair's "taste for war".

And ripping up life-long membership of a so-called 'Labour' Party in disgust. If New Labour can lie about war what else did it lie about?

There has already been one whitewash - the Hutton 'inquiry' into the death of Kelly. There has already been a discredited secret Butler inquiry into pre-war intelligence failures which protected Teflon Tony. Chilcot has been set up to join them with a shameful cover-up.

In the meantime an expensive farce is set to unfold as a pre-election sop to voters. The public still won't know why troops were sent to their deaths in Iraq or exactly what advice the government was given over the war's legality.

Barrister Blair will have his day, facing piles of trials with smiles. After all the fudge and faux outrage, a war weary public will be none the wiser.

Top picture: Peter Brookes, The Times. Mid pictures: Daily Mirror, Evening Standard. Bottom Picture: Private Eye.

NOTE: Two blogs giving a blow by blow account of the Chilcot Inquiry are worth following. Channel 4's Iraqinquiryblogger and the Iraq Inquiry Digest, edited by Chis Ames.

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