(Jan 28th 2004 onward)

Hutton's was a very polite report, and in my view did not properly apportion the blame for Dr Kelly's death. This falls squarely on Andrew Gilligan, who knew perfectly well that Dr Kelly's name must eventually emerge (unless he is completely unaware of all contemporary reality), and that he had represented his views incorrectly, thereby making his anonymous source responsible for the allegation that The PM and other government ministers lied deliberately and misled parliament and the country. He was aided and abetted with the utmost force by his superiors, right the way up to the Chairman of the Governors. Hutton was right about the reason why Dr Kelly committed suicide. The BBC was therefore, in inexorable logic, to blame for his death.

That the chairman has resigned is a start. The rest of the governors must search their own conscience. Sambrook should be sacked.

Let me remind you of a claim by counsel acting for the BBC during the inquiry:

"While some people saw some of the pressures Dr Kelly was under, it was always going to be a partial view. The BBC accepts
nobody in the Government, BBC or Civil Service had an inkling of all the pressures he was under."

Sambrook knew, all the time, from the very beginning, the pressure and the reason for it. Kelly could not correct Gilligan publicly without breaking his anonymity. By the time the BBC had backed the story to the hilt and it was world news, rowing back was impossible.

If the BBC accepts the Hutton report as a judgment, they are then entitled to the license fee. If not, the Corporation remains in breach of trust in the powerful and privileged, unique position it holds and is not entitled to enforce financial support on the public. The Director General's previous apology was a good start, the Panorama programme was a fine follow-up. The DG's grudging acceptance of the Hutton Report as 'criticism' today is not helpful. He claims the BBC never accused the Government of lying. This is not so.

On the 27th June I wrote to the BBC:

"What an extraordinary question to open Any Questions with: would we rather BELIEVE the BBC or Alistair Campbell".

That was the BBC accusing the Government, in public, of lying
at the highest level, and encouraging the public to accuse the government of lying, based on false evidence given to the public by the BBC. It doesn't come any worse than that so lighten up Greg and just take the medicine. Accept the report, and tell your staff to accept it.

The Hutton Report is a considered judgment of an experienced judge, experienced in civil rights and responsibilities, in possession of all the evidence. It should be accepted. I want to see the Charter renewed, and the constitution of the BBC remain as it is. That means it must get its house in order.

If Dr Kelly had made his views known publicly, with his name to them, they would not have been the views the BBC claimed were his. That is the nub of the matter. Why should anyone make allegations anonymously unless they are allegations to the police or other authority about persons from whom the authority cannot protect you? Do we really live in a country where whistle-blowers cannot be protected, and this is the excuse for the media to run rubbish stories and blame them on people they say they can't name? Perhaps, when the media has an agenda and wishes to put up fiction as fact, vouched for by authorities that can't be challenged.

The critics of Hutton I have listened to so far have completely missed the point. A man is dead. Hutton was asked to find out if this was due to dishonesty or failure on the part of the Government. He has answered: NO dishonesty, some failure by the MOD in the way the news was broken to Dr Kelly that his name was in the public domain. Since this was inevitable, this is hardly the cause of his death. Was his death due to dishonesty or failure on the part of the BBC? His answer is YES on both counts, though he has glossed over he dishonesty in the report as some of it might be considered to be transient. Hutton was also asked to find out if the PM and his ministers had been lying in the run-up to the war with Iraq, misleading parliament. He answered NO. Even Robin Cook agrees with that.

ON September 1st Lat year I wrote:
As I have said before, the responsiblity for winding Dr Kelly up to the point of suicide lies fairly and squarely with the BBC, at every level: reporter, programme editor, controller of news, board of governors. They are all guilty, .with no mitigating circumstances. Everyone else was doing their job properly. Of course, having the worlds most powerful tool at their disposal, the BBC might stop at nothing to make the public think otherwise. Or it might apologise. We are approaching a critical moment, but the really critical point comes when Lord Hutton gives his judgment. We will then see how the proverbial cookie is likely to crumble for this country. Will he try to defuse tension with his judgment, or will he fearlessly call it as it is?

Well, he called it how it is. We were told he was that sort of a guy, and we were told right. I am waiting for the right reponse. Not from Michael Howard, of course, but from those who matter.

JB - 28th Jan 2004

UPDATE Jan 29th
The wrong man has resigned. Greg seems too proud to apologise and won't sack Sambrook because he needs to stick to the 'buck stops here' principle. What a mess. Critics of Hutton are still talking WMD. The issue is the death of Dr Kelly, and not just Gilligan's mistakes but the subsequent championing of the BBC of the theory that the public HAD TO CHOOSE between the veracity of the Government and the BBC. They are still at it. We are being asked now to choose between the BBC and the PM, Hutton, Campbell and the entire Cabinet. This is quite intolerable. All that was required was for the BBC to accept that it was to blame for Dr Kelly's death by using him and quoting him incorrectly and making a meal of it day after day, insisting the entire population believe the BBC or the Government but not both. That was why Kelly died, and the BBC must accept it. Neither the Chairman or the DG could do that.

Absurd hysteria is now setting in amongst the journalist community.  How utterly pathetic. We have lost a good DG, but that's that.

14:35 pm - We now have a new acting Chairman, who has issued a proper apology,  and a new acting DG with BBC experience even if he will not match the Dyke drive and personality. It looks like they are entitled to the license fee once more, but let's just wait a few days! There are still those in the BBC it seems who do not understand what they did wrong. They are nitpicking details of Gilligan's reporting. Gilligan is becoming irrelevant now - we are seeing the true problem emerging. Political views of some BBC staff are blinding them to their duty to report accurately and follow the logic wherever it leads.

The best comments yet on Hutton came late this evening on HARDtalk, on BBC 24.  Tim Sebastian spoke with Tom Mangold, a veteran journalist, personal friend of Dr Kelly and someone with considerable experience in a range of matters and environments relevant to the issues. I recommend this as required listening or reading, but will there be a full transcript (most important) available, or perhaps a recording?

Those who want the BBC to remain independent, funded by the licence fee, and reponsible to its board of governors as now, should be grateful to Lord Hutton. The severity of his judgment is, I am certain, precisely because he cares deeply about the BBC and does not want it privatised, commercialised, or dependent. Those who really value the BBC will come to understand that when the Charter is renewed, Hutton will have made it possible. All this has nothing whatever to do with the fact that no stores of WMD have been found in Iraq.

I have changed my mind about the resignation of Greg Dyke. I no longer think this is great loss. He has done the job that was required and if he had continued he would have failed to manage well in the future. He clearly fails to understand that the main problem was not Gilligan but what happened after, and has little to do with WMD. The British public were not asked to choose between Gilligan or Campbell's version of events, but between the BBC and Campbell and then the BBC and the entire government. Again and again the BBC put its name and entire authority up as the alternative truth, with no possible compromise, to the word of the Government. Jonathan Dimbleby was still doing it this weekend on Radio 4, asking the audience to choose between the veracity of the BBC and ministers. This would be acceptable if it was not the same BBC who has for the last few years fed the public with the message that all ministers are liars, and the PM a prime one, not least through a range of comedy programmes where a cheap laugh is gained every few minutes on this score. All this was pointed out to the BBC over a period of weeks and then months, with the consequences of what would happen if they ignored it made extremely clear. It is not just that the BBC made mistakes, but that when these mistakes were pointed out, not by the government but by license payers, they refused to take them seriously. No self respecting citizen of this country would financially support a broadcasting corporation telling he entire world that our PM and government are unprincipled liars. Dyke and Gilligan are still holding that because parts of Gilligans story were right, Hutton's criticisms are wrong; or that because Hutton did not criticise the government, criticism of the BBC is wrong. This is rubbish.  This evening Dyke is still rabbitting on. I can now see why the governors accepted his resgination.

UPDATE FEB 05 2004
We now have not the BBC, but the BBC Lawyers (through a leak) contesting Hutton, claiming hw was 'wrong in law'  to have ignored the differences of opinion in the security services, the failure of the government to rebuke some of the tabloid for about their over-exited interpretation of the famous 'dossier', Campbell's failure to tell the Foreign Affairs Committee of a change in one draft out of several, and a few other details. More fundamentally they claim a fundamental right in  European law for Gilligan to publish.  Personally I think they are possibly correct in the last point. The reason Hutton judged as he did was because Gilligan's errors were not only not corrected, they were takes up by the BBC as th truth, and the BBC then asked the public, in such programmes as Question Time, to vote if they believed the BBC or the Government on the truth of the Gilligan report, even after Dr Kelly had been named and had indicated it was an incorrect rendering.

And we have Michael Howard calling on the PM to resign because he did not know in advance of the vote on the war whether the intelligence on the 45 minute warning referred to battlefield or other weapons. Since the 45 minute warning formed absolutely no part of the PM's decision making on acting to enforce 1441, it is hardly surprising he did not waste his time ruminating on this imponderable issue. At the time, I wrote that if and when we were on the receiving end of a WMD attack, in the battlefield or elsewhere, there would possibly be no warning at all. As far as British Forces in Cyprus are concerned, WMD developed by Saddam could already be on the island if he was left free to develop them and finance his agents with unrestricted oil exports. Right or wrong, it is clear that the PM, acting in his capacity as leader of our elected government, with his cabinet and advisers, took the decision to enforce 1441 and remove Saddam who refused to comply with it. Margaret Beckett used an unfortunate example, though, in Winston Churchill. He would have informed himself of known current operational weapon delivery details before deciding it was irrelevant. Blair decided it was irrelevant and therefor not a priority to seek details (which could have been wrong anyway). Unfortunately when dealing with so many people who are obsessed with irrelevancies, and with opportunists, he had no such luxury. However, I am glad to hear Andrew Marr making sense as usual.

There is still a chance the new BBC may be entitled to the licence fee, but they will have to wait a bit longer before my judgment is settled.


The new Attorney General in the Tory-Liberal coaltition government has decided Hutton did not answer all the medical questions possible about the death of Dr Kelly.

I have to tell you, dear reader, that whatever the latest collection of forensic experts (who were not involved at the time) have to say about their failure to understand exactly how the damage Kelly did by taking pain-killers/anti-coagulants and slitting his veins led to his death by suicide, they will be yet more incapable of showing how the same recorded evidence led to his death by murder. Re-opening this enquiry is a purely political exercise and a total waste of time. But have a look at how it can sell newspapers. First duty of an editor in the current economic conditions is to increase sales. Second duty is to increase sales. Third duty.....
Better find out what the Duke of Edinburgh was doing at the time, he must be handy with a knife...

Now scroll down to JUNE 9th 2011 - the madness never stops!

Intro Feb19 2004.
Lord Butler has been chosen, presumably, as he is the man most familiar with all branches of government at the top level and is unlikely to slip up in his work. He is intimately familiar with our unwritten constitution and its history, will know exactly what questions to ask and will be able to press for answers. It is rather a pity that his exceptional qualifications for this job, gained during his very long time at the head of the civil service, should have been bought at such incredible cost to the nation. For it is this man who ministered to, and was to an  extent responsible for, the pathetic inactivity that passed for many years in this country as government. While France, Germany and other leading economies pressed forward in the 1970s and 1980s modernising their railways, roads, telephones and data networks and every sort of modernisation and the proper application of electronics to much of commerce and industry and the management of society, Butler remained stuck in the 19th century. He had not the slightest idea of what was going to happen in the 1990s and after the Millenium, or how to prepare for it, which is why we are facing such a mess right now. We can of course blame Mrs Thatcher for such things as the ERM problem, when we went in at a ridiculous exchange rate, but the fact that there was nobody there to tell the Enid Blyton of economics she was making a pig's ear of it is also due to the fact that Lord Butler was there, intead of somebody who knew which way was up. Thatcher was right to wind down coal-mining of course, principally on health grounds. The unions had prevented the modernisation of the industry and the only thing to do was to stop it in the interests of all, as quickly as possible. Politicians have remarkably little to do with government of the type seen in successful economies, though the present government is trying to change that. Maybe Butler just decided that decent policies could not be sold, electorally, by any of the parties of the the latter half of the 20th century, so he just gave up and tried to act as damage limitation on whatver half-baked fiddling was attempted. But now is his moment. Just the man for the job. But at what cost.

It was fairly obvious that the great opportunist [MH] would bail out of the Butler Report as soon as he discovered that Butler was not going to allow it to be used as tool for those who are not in government (but wish they were) to milk public support from the anti-war lobby. Butler has set out to look into the workings of the intelligence sources so as to make sure that the advice given to the government was the best available, properly processed and assembled. Nuff said, totally predictable and in the long term of no consequence other than to consolidate the consignation of the reputation of Howard to the dustbin. As hinted in the previous paragragh, the twister realised he had met his match in Butler, who may be square but is, as a consequence, straight and extremely well informed on our unwritten constitution. The enquiry will now enjoy the confidence of all serious observers. Mates is right to stay on board. Butler will, of course, cover the points Howard now says it won't.

John Major has made a big mistake in recommending that the PM should release any further details of the Attorney General's opinion on the legal basis for removing Saddam Hussein. What had been published already is quite enough. What has been withheld might well strengthen it, but should not be revealed. Of course it is certain that had the Conservatives been in power they would have faced the same choice and and taken the same decision, though to have been in power in the first place they would have had to had a leader of sufficient character to win a general election - so it would not have been any of the current offerings. Clarke could not lead his party, and Howard or Haig could not lead the country.

MARCH 5th 2004                                  THE THOUGHTS OF CHAIRMAN BLAIR

Today Tony Blair delivered what was called a robust defence of his decision to enforce UN resolutions in the case of Iraq, even though the UN failed to authorise the enforcement after 12 years and about as many resolutions, the last one stating clearly that serious consequences would follow if it was ignored. He made the point that international law has to be written and if necessary updated, to deal with the actual problems of the current decade. The UN must do the job it was formed for in a way that achieves acceptably, even if not to perfection, its aims. He asks for a proper debate on the subject. But experience tells us that even if the subject is discussed daily in the media and in parliament, there will be those in the UK who claim it never has been. There are still millions who claim the arguments for and against entry into the EU and Common Currency have never been discussed, let alone explained. This does not, however, mean that the UN itself can avoid self examination and if necessary, reform. This does not mean gearing it up to do the bidding of the United States. It means gearing it up to deal with global threats and taking the reponsibility for imposing its resolutions, if necessary by authorising local enforcement by those states equipped and disposed to so do. Some of these may well be to the disadvantage of the United States.

MARCH 6th 2004
Today we have the critics of Blair's apologia. Let us take for example the opinions expressed on the BC Any Questions programme: Robin Cook (Lab) and Kenneth Clarke (Cons.), Julia Hartley Brewer (Political Editor of Sunday Express) and Kathy Sykes (Professor of Public Engagement in Science, Bristol Univ.) The aforementioned were all asked why we went to war, in the light of the controversy and the PM's latest clarification of his own thoughts.

Pont of view 1 - Julia Hartley-Brewer:
Julia thinks we went because it was the right thing to do from every point of view but that we should have done in a decade earlier, when it would have been easier, caused fewer casualties, not have been confused with so many other political agenda and saved the hundreds of thousands of lives of those massacred by Saddam or harmed by sanctions.

Why Point of view 1 is wrong:
Julia is wrong because we had to stop the first Gulf War at the point the UN mandate for it ran out. If we had not, we would have undermined the UN at a very important time in history. The coming together of the major powers after the Cold War and the forming of the coalition to include so many Middle-Eastern countries had been the greatest advance in international politics since the foundation of the European Union. It was too precious an acheivement to allow it to be ruined by the coalition taking advantage of the approval it had to expel Saddam from Kuwait. The US would never have been trusted with another mandate to act on behalf of the UN. The US and Britain already stood accused of being responsible for imposing rulers on Arab countries, so the time had come to see if they could replace their rulers with one of their own choosing. That proved impossible because George Bush I was stupid enough to encourage an uprising he was not prepared to support, against a tyrant capable of genocide and equipped to carry it out. It was probably impossible anyway, but the repression of that uprising put the lid on it.

Point of view 2- Kathy Sykes
Kathy approves of the removal of Saddam Hussein and would like to believe that the PM was genuine in his opinion that WMD were a real if not an immediate threat that had to be dealt with before it became even more dangerous. But she has to admit WMD are not turning up and asks "why Iraq and not Korea?" and points out that the terrorist risk is now worse, not reduced, so the judgment to go to war .

Why Point of view 2 is wrong
(A) The 'if Iraq, why not everywhere else that has a mad dictator or WMD' argument is of course just silly. We had Lybia as well and some places in Africa, should we not have gone for them all at once? For the girl that has been called 'a beautiful mind' to come up with this is absurd. Even if it was politic to deal with them all, taking on more than one at a time would be madness. Not dealing with any of them is global suicide. The only way is to pick the one that is a real priorty, where the operation can be carried out on known terrain with weapons that can handle it, where the political outcome could have at least a chance of success due to internal political support, and where the operation could encourage other mad dictators to rejoin the international community and cease to support there economy by hiring themselves out as a rogue state where terrorists can train tax free if they support the dictator with laundered money. (B) Anyone who thought Saddam was going to leave WMD of any sort lying around to be found by the UN or the US so he might end up judged by an International Court and imprisoned for life underestimates Saddam Hussein's type of intelligence, such as it is.  (C) Yes, the terrorist threat is definitely much worse. Those of us not just out of nappies remember that in all wars, after you engage in hostilities, things get progressively worse until the end. We were relatively safe in the UK until we took on Hitler. The difficult judgment Blair had to make, consulting with many others, was whether we should appease all rogue states and hope that they would not become a breeding ground for international terror, or whether we should take steps against them. The judgment of all is that some action is needed, usually sanctions such as trade and arms embargos, but leaky embargos are worse than none. The judgment was that 12 years of sanctions against Iraq were injuring only the innocent and building up more trouble for the future. So point of view 2 from the 'beautiful mind' is just bollocks.  God help us from scientists who think they understand politics and politicians who think they understand science (and economists who think they understand economics).
Point of View 3 - Robin Cook
Robin Cook accepts the honesty of the apologia, but because it is honest it does not make a case. No WMD having been discovered, the PM can explain why he took us to war but must then admit that his judgment, which is what he is defending, was faulty. Blair then falls back on the effect of the 9-11 attack, which he says was a revelation. Cook finds this naive. Cook thinks Blix should have been given more time and that war could and should have been avoided. Cook says we went to war because of the 9-11 attack in order to be a faithful ally to America, but the worldwide coalition against terror, which was successfully built and even survived the Afghan operation, was wrecked by the invasion of Iraq, thereby undoing all the diplomatic effort and success in the war against terrorism achieved up to that point. The support for the US is not reciprocated, so there is no gain there, terrorism is worse, and Blair's opening up of his thinking reveals it to be simplistic and incapable of motivating the international community.

Why Point of View 3 is wrong
(A) The WMD argument cannot be resolved, that much we must all accept. But the view of our own expert, Dr Kelly, was that Saddam and his followers (whether the followers were voluntary or compelled) were decided on WMD as their basic armory of last resort, and as their method of internal suppression. While nuclear weapons have been seen as a rational deterrent (and Israel is known to have some), allowing a genocidal despot to develop a nuclear programme while protected from any internal revolution by chemical and biological weapons that can be used against his own countrymen without fear of mutual destruction is not a rational stance for the international community to take. The current foreign affairs spokesman for Iraq made it clear when he recently addressed the UN that it had been their duty to remove Saddam Hussein. Had Saddam accepted the authority of the UN, this would not, could not have been so. But he deliberately refused to accept the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire ad the subsequent resolutions requiring his accounting for all WMD and WMD programmes.
(B) Blix was only getting access under reasonable conditions because the coalition deployed its troops. Blix was not getting cooperation on anything except being allowed to travel where he asked. This was not compliance and was never going to be. Cook therefore expected the coalition troops to either remain on station around Iraq indefinitely or go home. This would have allowed Saddam to install his family regime for ever and recommence WMD programmes as soon as the coalition troops had gone home, which they would have had to. They could not have come back. The no-fly zones would have gone on indefinitely as would sanctions. An utter disaster which would make the current situation look like a picnic.
(C) Yes, the invasion of Iraq damaged the worldwide coalition that formed in a mood of sympathy for the United States. It is true that George W is a hopeless diplomat with an image that makes him a hated figure in the 'old world'. It is true we are paying a price for our alliance. But any handling of the Atlantic Alliance other than the way Blair has played it would have had worse results for the UK, for the UN and for the world. No space to explain that here, just take my word for it. However, as pointed out already, in any war, even one against terror, the danger increases progressively once you start it and this continues till the end.

Cook makes a very clever case when he speaks, because he is a brilliant and fluent speaker. Given any position to defend, Cook can do it and get applause. But verbal gymnastics when dealing with a complex set of facts can make facts seem absurd and fiction solid sense, If you can contradict what I have written in the paragraph above, the Cook was telling it straight. If you cannot, he wasn't. Try it.

Point of View 4 - Kenneth Clarke
Ken looks at the big political picture and answers the question: why did Blair take us to war.
The US had decided on regime change shortly after Bush became President. The 9-11 attack made it possible to carry out this policy, whether or not there was a direct link between Saddam and 9-11, [true, because the American public for the first time realised that they were vulnerable to attack by terrorists, and terrorists could be financed by rogue states, train in rogue states and launder money in rogue states. Rogue states were those whose dictators defied the UN and suppressed their own people so could not be removed].
Blair had to decide whether or not to back the US decision. He decided it was essential to back the US [for reasons discussed briefly above and more fully elsewhere on this web site and many other places] but was determined to get UN backing for Saddam's removal unless he complied with UN resolutions. The UK then set about drafting, with the help of Europeans, UN resolution 1441.
Blair's hope was that Saddam would, with the certainty of invasion and the offer of sanctuary at a price, leave Iraq where he was hated by the great majority. But he did not. Blair was then committed to invade on the American timetable, and allowed the final vote to take place on ambiguous grounds, including popular understanding of tabloid press articles (hard to get more confused than that) which ensured a combination of those who wanted us to 'do the right thing' and those who changed their anti-war minds because they got the wind up. This ensured a parliamentary and national majority. Which fell apart when he war went badly because the US had misjudged the support that Iraqis would give, and further apart when WMD were not discovered by the coalition and the new special investigation team.

Clarke's view: Don't go to war without a national consensus at home.

Why Point of View 4 is wrong
Ken Clarke's point of view is not wrong in his analysis of why Blair took us to war.  He answered the question correctly. What he fails to understand is that Blair did not take us to war as a career move. He accepted that he might well be blamed for all the things that went wrong, for all the mistakes that the US politicians and military made as well as our own. He knew there would be many, and that even without mistakes it was going to be hard, hard, hard. But he believed the alternative would be worse. He did not believe that international terrorism could be countered in the future unless the UN faced up to its duty and authorised appropriate states (appropriate due to location, capability or both) to enforce its resolutions when these were of the mandatory level.

Ken is a man who likes to be comfortable and get consensus. He is a great diplomat. He can't abide Bush. But Bush was a Saddam Hussein removal tool. Ken could never have used him. There may also be more to Bush than we think, but then we don't think much of him.

Both Cook and Clarke think Blair's apologia is simplistic. I would ask them both one question: in a country where few people understand the English language (a skilled executive on Who wants to be a Millionaire tonight did not know the meaning of the word fraternal and many in the audience he had to ask got it wrong), is it really a good idea to explain the full reasons for removing Saddam now rather than later, or why he took the only chance either Iraq or the world was ever likely to get? I think not, he would only start a further debate in which total confusion would reign. He tries to keep it simple, stupid. Clarke's view is wrong because it is comfortably self-centred and self satisfied but it doesn't get the pigs in. The only decent job he did in government was when he was chancellor. That was very clever but not that difficult in the popularity stakes. It was based on the fact that his previous experience in other departments taught him that unless the government actually collected the taxes it was supposed to the country would fall apart at the seams. He collected the funds very diplomatically. That's Ken's role in life. Nice guy, and he's not a liar.

The CIA has been blasted so as to save Bush from accusations of exaggerating and cherry picking intelligence, or even of asking the CIA to do that for him. We shall see what Butler come up with in his quasi-equivalent examination in the UK. Comments on the CIA position are in WMD and Pre-emption on this site.

JULY 11th
The editorial leader in today's Independent has a bigger than usual headline:

    The intelligence was obviously wrong. But we still don't know why.

May I politely suggest the obvious? Saddam Hussein's tyranny was based on a well known model, that of Stalinist Russia. This depended on a blockage on the freedom of information. In this case in the civilian sector and within the military. No military commander who did not have WMD capability in his regiment would be able to confirm that others did not. In this way, Saddam could be assured that the neither the army or a civilian rebellion could overthrow him. While he could persist in denials to the UN, within his own country there was not doubt amongst those who wished to remove him that others under his command had the weapons and would use them, not against an invading international task force but against any insurrection. When an election returns a 100% turnout in favour of the most hated tyrant, the picture is clear. Saddam himself was responsible for the idea that he had both the weapons and the will to use them. At the same time as he made claims of innocence, feeding enough information and bribes behind the scenes to ensure that the UN would never pass the final vote for war, he refused to provide proof or documentation or allow key personnel to speak publicly. Had he done so, war could have been avoided and he could have been overthrown in a civil war without UN or coalition intervention.

The result of Saddam's game playing, combined with his history and the foreseeable future if sanction were removed, made the recommendation by the intelligence services inevitable. The recommendation had to be that Saddam should be taken at face value: he could easily have provided credible evidence of compliance with UN resolutions but he did not. The WMD threat by which he ruled Iraq was therefore taken as credible, as he meant it to be. He had to fool his own military at the popular level after all, even if some commanders might have suspected the WMD had been actually removed, hidden or destroyed in order to avoid discovery. Naturally it was always Saddam's intention to make a complete fool of Bush whatever happened. Because Bush has managed to seriously embarrass 50% of the chattering classes of Europe and America on a whole raft of issues,  they are quite likely to use the damage inflicted by Saddam to get rid of him. Meanwhile Nature pursues its course, and uses all its parts to reach a possible future. 

I doubt that the Butler report will come up with this explanation, but I would dearly like to be wrong.

JULY 15th
So now we have it. Butler has examined the process and decided, in summary, that the prewar intelligence on WMD contained caveats on the reliability of some sources and some facts,and that these were omitted from the infamous 'dossier'. It is not a question of sexing up or adding, but removing these caveats and not revealing in public the very great difficulty we had of getting precise and reliable data out of Iraq.

Michael Ancram spoke for most Conservatives who voted for war when he said that if they had been told all that in advance they would still have voted for the military action (he is to be respected for that). But he shares the objection still sustained by some others in all parties that they were misled as to the strength of the intelligence.

What people need to understand is this; the intelligence services do not decide on the overall risk or whether or not a country has to take military action. They can give a Prime Minister what information they have, and add the caveats. But a Prime Minister has to then take the decision in the light of the intelligence, the caveats, and a mass of other intelligence that does not come from MI6, GCHQ or DIS. It comes from a massive resource of historical, political, scientific and economic knowledge and advisors which a Prime Minister has at his command. This cannot be put in a dossier. It has to be absorbed of a long period of time. In the case of Iraq, a particularly intense period in the previous decade. It will have involved the opinions of scholars and military leaders, economists, sociologists, biologists, students of the region and its history and input from many individuals with a variety of insights. The one very weak area will have been in modern Iraq itself, In that area, as it turned out, the press and public were clamouring for details. Saddam knew exactly how to play it - how to play the UN, the European public, the whole grisly game. He knew he had us all in a catch-22 situation, and that public opinion would force the coalition to hold off. He knew that there were liberal democrats who claimed that containment was working and could be sustained, and others who were anti-war at all costs. There are still those today saying British soldiers are supposed just to defend their own country, not to take part in the enforcement of UN resolutions. That way lies disaster for all. No enforcement means no UN.

Fortunately we had several leaders on the coalition countries who were made of sterner stuff, who knew what the consequences would be if 12+ enforcable UN resolutions were ignored, and if Saddam was to stay in power and the coalition forces to pack up and go home.  Once Saddam had refused all inducements such as exile, and refused (for his own internal political reasons) to allow evidence of the destruction of WMD and the cessation of WMD programmes to be given either in writing or personally by those involved, and it was clear that Hans Blix could spend a lifetime and find nothing, it came to the final decision. At that point, it would have been completely fatuous to have gone to the public with the caveats rather than such current intelligence we had - the case for action was not based on intelligence concerning a few weeks in 2003! It was based on a full intelligence picture built up over many years in many countries. It is a Prime Minister's job, looking at all the information and advice he has to come to a decision, not ask the public to decide. We have a Prime Minister who is capable of taking decisions, and a cabinet of sound and honest people who backed him. As a result not of Gilligan's programme but the BBC's insistence on backing him and inviting the public to call either the BBC or the PM a liar, the British public were seriously misled: not by the PM but by much of the media, on the whole issue. They are asked now with apparent seriousness by Gavin Esler to believe that Tony Blair should have said: "We have got to enforce 1441 now, but with regard to the dossier on WMD I have to tell you we are not sure where he weapons are, or if he has hidden, exported or destroyed them because he won't come clean." Dear Mr Esler, you may be wearing long trousers, but you should be still in nappies.  You have a good brain, now get a life and put something in it.

The fact that some intelligence on WMD was withdrawn because the sources were later deemed unreliable is now being touted as significant, because the 'dossier' was deemed to be the 'intelligence of the day'. The PM was not informed. How much more of this claptrap do we have to listen to? Not only was the dossier irrelevant to the PM, once intelligence is publicised it it no longer intelligence. July 17th was the date some intelligence was withdrawn. It appears some people think the PM should have been informed so he could have announced it in the house. This of course makes sense for those who would base the case for military action on the validity of that intelligence. Thankfully, we did not have a PM and cabinet foolish enough to base the case for war on shaky intelligence. Therefore officials in the Foreign Office, DIS, MI6 etc were then, and presumably are now, indifferent to whether he was informed at the time of the change in status of that item.

The credibility of the Butler Report has now been enhanced by the further evidence that he is an anti-Blair man by inclination and fundamentally opposed to one particular aspect of Blair's style of govenrment, which is to take decisive action on key, selected issues so as to use his time as leader of the Labour Party and then as Prime Minister to change the historical outcome. Butler's style of government, which he facilitated over the time he spent as the most senior and influential civil servant, was to MANAGE ENTROPY. This boring old Harrovian advised ministers on options of presiding over the decay of the infrastructure of Britain for a quarter of a century or more. But even he could not bring himself to conclude that Blair was in any way dishonest in persuading the British people that allowing a Stalinist serial killer and his dynasty to secure an unassailable control over the middle East through terror and bribery was a recipe for disaster.

BRAVO The Attorney General. To cede one inch to the half-witted conspiracy theorists on the death of David Kelly would have been very wrong.
I am letting them off too lightly by questioning their sanity only, it is their very hearts and souls that need disinfecting.