The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 6th February 2004

Us watching them watching us - the MI5 building in London

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by Daphne Liddle

JUST ONE week after Prime Minister Tony Blair thought he was off the hook and had triumphed over all who doubted him, he is deeper in trouble than ever, as a senior intelligence officer proclaimed in print that the Government had overruled them on the presentation of the “dodgy dossier”.

The Independent published the report from intelligence official Dr Brian Jones on Wednesday. This came after a chain of events that saw major figures in the British government, the media, the United States government and the intelligence services all looking around for scapegoats for the continuing catastrophe that the invasion of Iraq has become, while avoiding becoming the scapegoats themselves.

 Blair’s hopes that the publication of the Hutton report would put an end to his troubles were quickly shattered. The report was so heavily and obviously biased that no one has bought it for a moment.

The press was almost unanimous in condemning it as a whitewash – only Murdoch’s papers like the Sun and the Times supported it.

 Within days, the history of Lord Hutton’s involvement in the notorious Diplock Courts in the occupied north of Ireland, his role in the Bloody Sunday cover-up and his role in 1990 in getting the Chilean dictator Pinochet released were common knowledge.

 The pressure on Blair grew for a better public inquiry, one with a remit to look into the reasons why the illegal war against Iraq was launched.

 Blair then suffered a kick in the teeth from President Bush – the man he had risked so much to support. Bush was coming under similar pressure in the United States over the failure to find the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Dr Kay, the American scientist charged with conducting the search for them, resigned, admitting there were most probably none to be found.

 So Bush has ordered a public inquiry into the intelligence reports that led him to believe there were such weapons. Bush does not have so much to fear from admitting that his public claims over the WMDs were wrong. He never claimed they were the primary reason for going to war. He claimed the reason was to topple Saddam’s government in Iraq.

 Blair knew that would not wash in Britain. There is no international law to allow one country to invade another because it does not like the other’s government. Blair had to pretend there was a real danger that Iraq could launch WMDs on Britain and that Saddam had to be stopped before this happened.

 But both Blair and Bush claim that much of their evidence for the existence of the WMDs came from British intelligence.

 Bush’s inquiry was a tactic, first to take the heat off until it reported – after November’s presidential elections, and secondly to be able to lay the blame for wrong intelligence on Britain.

 US Secretary of State Colin Powell now claims he might not have supported the war if he had known Iraq had no WMDs.

 Blair was in an impossible spot and reluctantly agreed to an independent inquiry, headed by Lord Butler and including representatives of all the major parties.

 But by this time the public and the media were not buying any more inquiries that were obviously stitched up in advance, as with Hutton.

 The Liberal Democrats, who had been pressing for such an inquiry since the war last March, refused to take part because its remit was too narrow.

 The inquiry is set to be held in private and will look only at the role of the intelligence services in the run up to the war.

 British intelligence chiefs saw themselves being lined up as scapegoats by both the British and American governments. So they are fighting back in advance.
not happy

When the BBC originally backed journalist Andrew Gilligan in publishing leaks from Dr David Kelly that intelligence officers were not happy with the way the Government was distorting their evidence to make a stronger case for war, it was always implied that Dr Kelly was not their only source.

 Now Brian Jones has made nonsense of Lord Hutton’s findings that the BBC acted improperly by saying more than Dr Kelly ever did about the rift between the Government and the intelligence services.

 He said that not a single defence intelligence expert supported Blair’s claims on Iraq’s WMDs.

 He said: “In my view, the expert intelligence analysts of the Defence Intelligence Staff were overruled in the preparation of the dossier back in September 2002, resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq’s capabilities.”

The whole thing is a charade. Bush and Blair knew full well that Iraq could not possibly have any WMDs after the first Gulf War. It used everything it had then. Iraq had no option but to knuckle under the sanctions regime and obey United Nations bans on developing new weapons.

 The war was fought so US imperialism could gain control of Iraq’s oil fields and impose a military presence in the Middle East.

 But Dr Jones would be well advised not to take any long walks in the woods in the near future. 


Enter Lord Butler

THE FACT THAT the Hutton Report has been publicly ridiculed for the miserable whitewash that it is and that, within days, the Government has accepted the need for a new inquiry is a mark of the growing strength of the anti-war campaign.

The fact that the new inquiry will be headed by Lord Butler, a veteran time-server and former head of the Civil Service; that all the other members are Privy Councillors and that it will meet in secret shows that the Government still has plenty to hide.

Left Labour backbenchers have challenged Butler’s appointment on the grounds that his past record “undermines his credibility as a fair and impartial chairman”. The Liberal Democrats are refusing to take part in the inquiry because it does not cover the political questions that led to the war and some Tories are also expressing their doubts.

Predictably Butler’s review will have limited terms of reference. It will investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction prior to the Anglo-American invasion in March 2003. It will examine any discrepancies between the intelligence gathered and its evaluation and use by the Government in the run up to war. And it will look at the reports of the Iraq Survey Group that has operated in occupied Iraq and has failed to find any banned weapons.

What it will not do is look at the real reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq that had nothing to do with Iraq’s alleged lethal arsenal and plenty to do with appeasing George W Bush and America’s ruling circles that were set on “regime change” in Iraq as soon as Bush set foot in the White House.

Blair clearly hoped that the protests would stop after Hutton but he was undercut by his master in Washington who has been forced to hold an investigation of his own over causes of the Iraq war. No doubt Bush and Blair will seek to cover their tracks by trying to scapegoat the intelligence services if it transpires that the advice given did not tally with the wild allegations used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Whether the intelligence services are prepared to carry the can to save Blair’s bacon is another matter. Some clearly are not. Dr Brian Jones, the former head of the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons section of the Defence Intelligence Staff, is one of them. Dr Jones, who is now retired, has told the media that in his view the presentations in the “dodgy dossier” were misleading and says it would be a “travesty” if his staff are now to be blamed for any intelligence failings.

Blair & Co will certainly seek to shrug off any more questions until Butler delivers his conclusions in six months time. We have to ensure that this doesn’t happen. The war camp have their backs to the wall. Millions of people have seen through their lies.

In Iraq the resistance is striking daily blows against the American occupation army and their local quislings. British troops in the south continue to America’s dirty work for the benefit of the big US corporations that dream of plundering Iraq’s immense oil riches.

The peace campaign must continue the mass campaign to defeat the war party – the most reactionary and venal sections of the ruling class that Blair and his cronies have aligned themselves with. There must be an open public inquiry into the Iraq war and an inquest to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly.

Above all, all British troops must be immediately withdrawn from Iraq. 

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