This was originally part of the blog entry from yesterday, but it ended up all being too long. So here is Part II.
On the point of Blair being a liar, the issue over the 45 minute claim still haunts his Prime Ministerial career today. It all comes down to Andrew Gilligan. Conventional wisdom has it that the media should be questioned. Though apparently when a story involves the government, people tend to believe the media to be infallible and the government to be corrupt and shady. I on the other hand, find myself in a deep sense of unease at anything the media says, and especially around conventional wisdom. The fact is, people have chosen to believe Andrew Gilligan above anyone who disagrees with him, despite Gilligan lying to a Commons Select Committee, and changing his story numerous times. Why do we take his word as reliable? I would suggest it is because we like to believe our politicians are deeply corrupt. I am anti-Blair for a lot of reasons; his “modernisation” of the Labour Party was actually nothing more than a total capitulation to the financial sector, with grave consequences. Yet on this, I don’t think he maliciously lied. I think the JIC intelligence was false, and the 45 minute claim wasn’t considered important. In fact, so unimportant was it, that Blair didn’t actually mention it once. He didn’t mention it in Parliament. He didn’t claim it as fact. It was raised, I believe, twice in debates in Parliament, in passing. It was not the claim that the Government staked the entire war on. The removal of Saddam was absolutely right and necessary. Anyone who claims otherwise, does not understand the horrific nature of his rule. Comparing him to the Syrian issue at the moment, is irresponsible and ignorant. Saddam was not just another Middle Eastern dictator. He was one of the cruelest and most vicious dictators of the 20th Century. Up there with Hitler and Stalin.
The Left – including me – tends to question the motives of the media. Though there seems to be complacency in this urge to question the media, when the media seem to be revealing something about the government. We tend to believe the media and decide the government is lying. We of course have no proof, or evidence. Similarly, with the “sexed up dossier” we just assume Andrew Gilligan’s report on BBC radio, in which he claimed Downing Street deliberately sexed up the military capability of Iraq to justify war, was absolutely correct. Since, he has offered no support for this claim, it seems a little odd that we’d just take it as fact. Though we do, because we like to believe, for some odd reason, that our Prime Ministers are lying, scheming, murdering psychopaths. And yet, as pointed out earlier, Gilligan changed his story numerous times. Originally he had claimed that Alistair Campbell inserted the 45 minute claim. Then, in front of the Hutton Inquiry, Gilligan said:
“The only context in which my source mentioned Campbell was in the context of the transformation of the dossier.
“The allegation was made that the 45-minute claim was inserted against ‘our [the JIC] wishes’. But it is not a specific claim with a specific person’s name tied to it.”
– In his articles even today, he names Campbell as responsible, but under oath he refuses to use a name, because lying to Parliament isn’t exactly going to go down to well. The Tory MP Sir John Stanley of the Hutton Inquiry picked up on this, telling Gilligan:
“You are now making a dramatically, totally, totally different allegation. You have led this whole committee, and the wider public, up the garden path in a most staggering way.”
On being questioned further, into why he suggested the Government had lied, or that Campbell had placed the 45 minute claim into the dossier, despite him having no evidence, and despite Dr David Kelly not actually putting Campbell and 45 minute claim in the same sentence during any of their three meetings (three according to Gilligan, four according to David Kelly, lasting 45 minutes according to Gilligan, 90 minutes according to Kelly), Gilligan retracted the comment he’d made on the Today Program, that the Government probably knew the 45 minute claim was false before they put it in the dossier:
“It wasn’t my intention to give the impression the Government had lied.”
– How is it that an entire generation has clutched onto this man’s incredibly weak interpretation of investigative journalism, as being precisely factual? If anything, Gilligan is guilty of doing what he accuses the government of; lying, and “sexing up” evidence. There is no consistency in his story, there is no consistency between how he thinks the meetings between he and Dr David Kelly went, and how Dr David Kelly thought they went. That is probably why MPs branded Gilligan an “unsatisfactory witness“.
Gilligan then claimed the original source that the government used, for the 45 minute claim was wrong. Again, he had no evidence. He claimed the original source had been mistaken between the deployment time for weapons, and the deployment time for a Chemical and Biological missile. The problem is, the JIC rejected this as being ludicrous, because the original source for them had never once mentioned the word missile and only ever mentioned weapons. It would seem that Gilligan is making it up as he goes along, and those who believe him seem to be hailing him as a lone journalist taking on the big bad corrupt government. No one seems to be questioning him.
If we take Susan Watts testimony before the Hutton Inquiry, she claimed that she too had spoken to Dr David Kelly, as a reporter for the BBC. She had taken notes, and made a recording. When asked about Kelly’s statement that Alaistair Campbell had “sexed up” the dossier, she said that Dr Kelly’s comments on Campbell were no more than a glib statement” and “gossipy aside” for which there was no evidence whatsoever. Kelly was just guessing. A passing comment. She came forward after Kelly had killed himself. It’s a shame she didn’t present this before, to take the pressure off of Dr Kelly. It might have saved his life. In fact, if Gilligan hadn’t have emailed the Foreign Affairs Committee, to reveal that Dr Kelly was Susan Watt’s source (thus breaking the Journalist code of protecting the source), Kelly may still be alive today. Both Watts and Gilligan piled the pressure on Dr David Kelly. They sold him out.
The Hutton Inquiry told that Campbell had made notes on the Dossier, though not to deceive anyone, and that the Joint Intelligence Committee had agreed and consented to the final draft before it was published.
The Butler Inquiry concluded that the 45 minute claim was based on bad intelligence – which it certainly was. But, it also concluded that the government did not know it was bad intelligence before the dossier was published, as Gilligan had claimed.
To this day, Gilligan cannot be trusted to present an accurate story in his articles. In January this year, he wrote an article on the case of Ashraf Miah, a man convicted of child molestation. In his article, he names a certain Mosque as the place that Miah met his victims:
The court heard that Miah also taught at the hardline East London Mosque, controlled by the Islamic Forum of Europe, which also believes in turning the UK into a sharia state, though by different methods. The mosque has hosted many hate, extremist and terrorist preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda spiritual leader. Some of the victims were introduced to Miah via the mosque.
– The problem is, this is nonsense. The Telegraph, in which the story was published issued the following statement, five months later:
Our report “Extremist leader jailed for child abuse” (Jan 20) wrongly said that some of the victims of Ashraf Miah, described in a court report as a former teacher at the East London Mosque, were introduced via the Mosque. We are happy to confirm that the Mosque has no record of him ever having taught there and that there was no suggestion at trial of his victims having been introduced to him there.
The article he wrote was on his Telegraph blog. It has since been taken down, but a copy can be found here.
Now, that being said, and given that the article is still available to view, with his name attached to it, which he wrote, one wonders why after the Telegraph corrected the blatant lie, he tried to suggest he didn’t actually write it:
It is untrue to claim, as the mosque and its echoes in the blogosphere often do, including in its latest statement, that the Daily Telegraph has corrected any story I wrote about it: the correction was to a news-in-brief item (six months ago!) written by someone else. And if that 50-word piece, in all the tens of thousands of words we’ve written about the East London Mosque, is the only fault they’ve been able to find, I think we’re doing pretty well.
– As you can see from the link, it isn’t a 50 word news in brief, and the Daily Telegraph DID correct a story he wrote. He lied twice, about the same thing.
Private Eye found that Gilligan had been leaving comments on his own blog articles, under different names. I am not entirely sure how this man can be considered respectable and credible?
Back to the dossier. The general head of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time, Sir John Scarlett approved the foreword to the September Dossier. He clearly didn’t have any reason to think it “sexed up”. He also vigorously denies being pressured to “sex up” the wording. He says there was no deliberate attempt to mislead, but admits he perhaps should have mentioned that the 45 minute claim related to weapons on the battlefield rather than missiles. It would be helpful if Gilligan provided evidence, rather than metaphorically standing in a crowd of his supporters and shouting “And and and Blair ate a baby!!!” to their thunderous boo’s and chants of “hang him!! War criminal!! Baby eater!!!”
We then have a host of half-arsed journalism, trying to roll out a conspiracy, that actually just isn’t there. For example, Jane Merrick writing for the Independent says:
Of the 45-minute claim in the dossier, he said: “I didn’t focus on it a great deal at the time… I mentioned it without any great emphasis and I mentioned it, I think, in reasonably sensible terms.” Yet in evidence to the Hutton inquiry in 2003, Mr Blair said: “There was absolutely no reason for us to doubt that intelligence at all” – suggesting it did carry great emphasis in Downing Street.
– What? How on Earth does “There was absolutely no reason for us to doubt that intelligence at all” suggest that the 45 minute claim carried great emphasis in Downing Street? Jane Merrick appears to be trying to find and point out a conspiracy that doesn’t exist. It suggests to me that the major failure in Downing Street, was that they glanced over such dodgy and weak intelligence, and just presumed it was accurate. It seems they took no notice of it. If they had, why wouldn’t they just omit it, because it’s pretty obvious it’d come back and bite them at some point in the future. These are not stupid people, there was a wealth of intelligence surrounding Blair. I cannot imagine they’d all sat in a room and decided to insert false, and incredibly damaging ‘evidence’. With the WMD claim, I cannot believe the Blair Administration decided to claim Iraq had WMDs, if they actually knew Iraq didn’t. They were not stupid people, surely one of them might have raised the issue of the fact that they’d go to Iraq and not find any? Surely they’d maybe plant something? It seems a huge leap to say Blair lied to take the Country to war, and then just didn’t bother covering that lie up. It is one of those conspiracy theories (along with the 9/11 inside job nonsense). I just cannot bring myself to agree with. Nor can I accept that Blair lied over Weapons of Mass Destruction; I think he genuinely believed Iraq was developing WMDs, especially given the evasive nature of Saddam’s regime in his dealing with Blix’s team of inspectors, who all concluded interestingly, that Saddam was not cooperating fully with the inspection team, as he had been instructed to do. The UN seemed to wish to issue resolution after resolution without having to act when he disobeyed. It isn’t a stretch to suggest he was hiding something, especially given that he had used chemical and biological weapons in the past. It is the equivalent of asking your friend where your bike is, he saying “I don’t know“, you asking if you can search his house, he saying “yes……but not the shed. You can’t look in the shed. “. It isn’t a great leap to come to a decision that perhaps he’s hiding something in that shed.
To sum up the last two blog entries, I ask myself one question. Has the Left abandoned its international ally, for the sake of the endless pursuit of Anti-Americanism? I am coming to the unnerving conclusion, that yes, the Left has become far too Nationalistic and Anti-American. The anti-war Left demands peace, shows pictures of dead soldiers and Iraqis, demands the end to war, so they can simply cover their faces and pretend the horror of what happens when you leave a man like Saddam in power just isn’t happening. They don’t hold photos of dead Germans during WWII and ask for an apology from the Churchill family. It seems war is only “legal” if the enemy might attack your country. Suddenly Nationhood is brought into the moral question. If they kill their own people, allow mass rape and torture, invade lands around them, support terrorism, then whomever says “enough is enough” is apparently guilty of war crimes. Yet when we leave these bastards alone, we end up with Rwanda. The anti-war Left does not march on London, with signs showing dead children, when a genocide like Rwanda takes place. They stay quiet and consume in silence. Their righteous bullshit condemns them. They are the war criminals.