Iraq Inquiry: The First Big Lie 63

Sir John Chilcot was just ten minutes in to the first public session of the Iraq Inquiry when he told the first big lie – and a lie which, when examined, exposes the entire charade.

“My colleagues and I come to this inquiry with an open mind.”

That is demonstrably untrue. Three of the five members – Rod Lyne, Martin Gilbert and Lawrence Freedman – are prominent proponents of the Iraq war. By contrast, nobody on the committee was in public against the invasion of Iraq. How can it be fine to pack the committee with supporters of the invasion, when anyone against the invasion was excluded?

Let us look at that committee:

Sir John Chilcot

Member of the Butler Inquiry which whitewashed the fabrication of evidence of Iraqi WMD. The fact is that, beyond doubt, the FCO and SIS knew there were no Iraqi WMD. In the early 1990’s I had headed the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, tasked with monitoring and preventing Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement. In 2002 I was on a course for newly appointed Ambassadors alongside Bill Patey, who was Head of the FCO Department dealing with Iraq. Bill is a fellow Dundee University graduate and is one of the witnesses before the Iraq Inquiry this morning. I suggested to him that the stories we were spreading about Iraqi WMD could not be true. He laughed and said “Of course not Craig, it’s bollocks”. I had too many other conversations to mention over the next few months, with FCO colleagues who knew the WMD scare to be false.

Yet Chilcot was party to a Butler Inquiry conclusion that the Iraqi WMD scare was an “Honest mistake”. That a man involved on a notorious whitewash is assuring us that this will not be one, is bullshit.

Bill Patey (or “Sir William”, as they call him) is a witness before the committee this morning. Doubtless between Sir John and he, they will manage to steer round the fact he knew there were no WMD.

Funny thing is that, just as with Sir Michael Wood and his view on the legality of torture intelligence, Bill Patey is also an extremely nice man. When you unleash the evil of aggressive war, the corruption of your own body politic is one of the consequences.

Sir Roderick Lyne

Last time I actually spoke to him we were both Ambassadors and on a British frigate moored on the Neva in St Petersburg. Colleagues may have many words to describe Rod Lyne, some of them complimentary, but “open-minded” is not one of them.

If the Committee were to feel that the Iraq War was a war crime, then Rod Lyne would be accusing himself. As Ambassador to Moscow he was active in trying to mitigate Russian opposition to the War. He personally outlined to the Russian foreign minister the lies on Iraqi WMD. There was never the slightest private indication that Lyne had any misgivings about the war.

From Uzbekistan we always copied Moscow in on our reporting telegrams, for obvious reasons. Lyne responded to my telegrams protesting at the CIA’s use of intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers, by requesting not to be sent such telegrams. Somewhat off topic but amusingly, he also responded to my telegram warning about Alisher Usmanov and his growing influence in the UK, saying that Moscow had never heard of the man – one of Putin’s closes oligarchs.

An open mind? Really?

Sir Lawrence Freedman

Lawrence Freedman is the most appalling choice of all. The patron saint of “Justified” wars of aggression, and exponent of “Wars of Choice” and “Humanitarian Intervention”. He is 100% parti pris.

Here is part of his evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution on 18 January 2006:

The basic idea here is that our armed forces prepared for what we might call wars of necessity, that the country was under an existential threat so if you did not respond to that threat then in some very basic way our vital interests, our way of life, would be threatened, and when you are looking at certain such situations, these are great national occasions. The difficulty we are now facing with wars of choice is that these are discretionary and the government is weighing a number of factors against each other. I mentioned Sierra Leone but Rwanda passed us by, which many people would think was an occasion when it would have been worth getting involved. There was Sudan and a lot of things have been said about Darfur but not much has happened…

…Iraq was a very unusual situation where it was not an ongoing conflict. If we had waited things would not have been that much different in two or three months’ time and so, instead of responding either to aggression by somebody else, as with the Falklands, or to developing humanitarian distress, as in the Balkans, we decided that security considerations for the future demanded immediate action.”

An open mind? Really?

Martin Gilbert

Very right wing historian whose biography of Churchill focussed on Gilbert’s relish for war and was otherwise dull. (Roy Jenkins’ Churchill biography is infinitely better). Gilbert is not only rabidly pro-Iraq War, he actually sees Blair as Churchill.

Although it can easily be argued that George W Bush and Tony Blair face a far lesser challenge than Roosevelt and Churchill did – that the war on terror is not a third world war – they may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill. Their societies are too divided today to deliver a calm judgment, and many of their achievements may be in the future: when Iraq has a stable democracy, with al-Qaeda neutralised, and when Israel and the Palestinian Authority are independent democracies, living side by side in constructive economic cooperation.,,1379819,00.html

An open mind? Really?

Baroness Prashar

Less known, and my cynical side says she ticked the female and ethnic minority boxes. But a governor of the FCO institution the Ditchley Foundation – of which the Director is Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK Ambassador to the UN who presented the lies about Iraqi WMD and was intimately involved in the lead in to war. So very much another cosy foreign policy insider.

So, in short, the committee – all appointed by Gordon Brown – have been very obviously picked to provide a complete whitewash. They are people whose attitudes and mindset lead them to accept the war as justified without the need for conscious connivance on their part. But if conscious connivance should be required, they are just the boys for it.

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63 thoughts on “Iraq Inquiry: The First Big Lie

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  • Freeman

    Between this, all the previous whitewashes, MPs expenses, an out of control police etc, it’s quite clear there’s a criminal conspiracy at the heart of British institutions to defraud the British people.

    This is corruption on a massive scale.

  • anon

    this will just create a very large report written in an eloquent manner which the public will not and does not care about. It will give the papers something to write about and give academics something to study and debate at the universities. Nobody cares what they say and we do not need an inquiry to tell us that the illegal invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They say we need to learn lessons. What lessons? it’s simple stay out of other sovereign nations. There is no threat no Britain.

  • George Dutton


    There are many different types of whitewash available.New Labour use…New improved industrial strength “whitewash” and copious amounts off it,delivered in supertankers…”Iraq Inquiry”(another bulk order just delivered).

  • Anon

    What a game of snakes and ladders the Iraq war turned out to be! And all so unavoidable. All the ‘powers that be’ needed to do was be honest about the gravity of the situation concerning declining oil reserves and the looming energy crunch. Indeed, be as honest as government and the scientific community are being now regarding the ramifications of climate change, the two subjects both being inextricably linked. And in turn build an international coalition not of war, but of co-operation – to manage, use and in time wean the world away from those resources for the benefit of all mankind. Gunboat diplomacy was never going to wing it.

  • rob

    Anon: ” .. snakes .. “.

    Yes, indeed:

    “Iraq inquiry: witnesses could be given immunity from prosecution”


    Nice trick: set up the inquiry that people are demanding (or something like it), call the main players (so that said people are reassured this will be the dog’s bollocks), then distribute “Get out of jail free” cards at the door. Slick.

  • Anonymous

    Just as laughable, if not more, is the post-whitewash way the people of the UK will do nothing about it.

    Perhaps the quicker the ship sinks the better for all?

  • anticant

    The Cambridge philosopher F.M. Cornford said “There is only one argument for doing something; the rest are arguments for doing nothing. The argument for doing something is that it is the right thing to do.”

    By ‘the right thing’ he meant correct, appropriate, most effective. By all these tests, quite apart from the moral and legal issues, the Iraq war was a disastrously silly thing to do, and some of us were saying so before it was launched.

  • tony_opmoc


    We’ve been brainwashed. The “We” also includes the vast majority of politicians. Climate Change is an outrageous scam. The “science” behind it is not “science”. It’s a combination of religion and politics. CO2 is not a problem and most certainly is not a pollutant.

    The World does face serious environmental problems, including and partially resulting from exponential population growth.

    The logic for invading Iraq and Afghanistan, was of course based on serious concerns about the security of energy supplies, as well as support of the US Dollar.

    For about a week, I took very seriously, the issue of “Peak Oil”. This was about 6 or 7 years ago when I first read the website The logic contained within this website is very convincing. It is however based on some fundamental fallacies, not least being the actual origin of oil. This can be explained by a knowledge of physics, rather than geology. A very good website on the subject is

    The very major problems that we do face, can be resolved eloquently, if we first identify what they actually are. Currently nearly everyone is lying, and we are devoting enormous energy to fixing none problems, and ignoring the very real ones.

    The “concensus” in UK politics with regards to climate change is indicative of the level of brainwashing of UK politicians. Only 3 MP’s voted against the Climate Change Bill. Yet the recent release of emails and data (probably by a whistleblower) at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveals the most outrageous scientific fraud (which has almost completely been ignored by the mainstream media).

    The fact of the matter is that decisions are being made, that will seriously impact the future of the entire human race on totally false information.

    So many people are lying, and so many decision makers are so completely ignorant of science, that we are rapidly heading to create the most horrendous problems for all humanity. Unless we stop, and start telling the truth based on objective evaluation of real evidence without any political or religious agenda, then we are heading for the mass genocide of Billions.

    Whilst this will resolve the overpopulation issue, it will result in a hell on earth. There are far more elegant ways to resolve all the problems facing the planet and all its lifeforms. But with psychopaths in control, we don’t stand much of a chance.


  • Abe Rene

    It will be interesting to see how (indeed whether) Patey’s statement to the Committee on WMD in Iraq will be consistent with his laughing off the idea when you spoke. It will also be very interesting to learn what (if any) contribution Baroness Prasher makes. No doubt you’ll keep your readers informed.

  • mike cobley

    As soon as I saw headline claiming that the new enquiry will be open and wide-ranging, I immediately recalled the old saying, ‘Dont believe anything until its been officially denied’, the corollary being in operation in this case. Also, it seems that Blair has agreed to give testimony at it, and that puts the seal on it. If that cheese merchant is happy to appear before it, then it aint worth a rancid toad fart. QED.

  • Sinclair

    You menion that John Chilcot was a member of the Butler Inquiry which whitewashed the fabrication of evidence of Iraqi WMD.

    A whitewash indeed. Also notable was the obscene and undeclared conflict of interests of the chairman of that inquiry, Lord Butler of Brockwell. Butler was actually on the payroll of MMC (Marsh McLennan Companies), a company which benefitted greatly from the military spending associated with the War in Iraq. When MMC acquired Kroll between 18th May and 8th July 2004, there was a direct conflict between Lord Butler’s private interests as a beneficiary of the Iraq war and his role as a public servant reviewing the intelligence relating to that war.

    More info here:

  • roderick Russell

    More scams, more lies. The problem surely lies with the press and its failure to report on contentious issues. There seems to be a dearth of investigative journalism these days. One has the impression that too often the press places deference to the authorities (toadying to the establishment) ahead of professional reporting.

    How can one expect MPs to risk speaking out on contentious issues if the press won’t proactively support them if they do? Indeed, the opposite is the case; any MP who speaks out can be certain that the spin-doctors will campaign against him. Isn’t it time the press held the spin-doctors to account and told us the truth? Isn’t it time that the press demanded an end to Britain’s unjust and undemocratic libel laws? It seems to me that the solution includes fighting for a free press. Surely it is time that the press threw off the shackles that bind it, and started reporting the whole truth in the public interest?

  • writerman

    Like so much else in contemporary life, the ‘enquiry’ is designed to obscure and not inform or enlighten. That isn’t what it’s for.

    A real enquiry would contain an impartial judge, an experienced prosecutor, and a bright lawyer specializing in international law, somebody like Prof. Phillip Sands. It would also have the power to demand that individuals attend and answer under oath.

    The evidence that Blair blatently broke international law and is a war-criminal, is pretty overwhelming, however, there is no real will to pursue the matter, because this would effectively put the ‘west’ on trial as well, and the conclusion that our political system is degenerate, ineffective, corrupt, rapacious, agressive, criminal, and we are led by facist gangsters in smart suits, is simply beyond the pale.

    I think ‘old-school’ bourgeois, liberal democracy, has all but vanished, except as a form of ritual, devoid of meaning. Power is not with the people, as it should be in a functioning and healthy democracy, power is increasingly in the hands of the powerful, the people who own and control society, a fabulously wealthy ‘elite’, people who live in a virtual, global, Versailles. Are only real hope is that they soon meet the same fate.

  • Jeremy Hartley

    Good piece Craig.

    I watched the opening of this committee this morning on BBC World. After I had listened to Sir John Chilcot introduce the other Sirs and the Baroness, I explained to my wife, who isn’t English, that the mere fact that pretty much each and every one was a Sir or some other Lord, more or less precluded an honest outcome. With the exception of Music and Sports, you don’t become a Lord or Sir in the UK without a great deal of brown nosing and following the estabilishment line. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but after reading your piece I feel that at least in this case I was right.

  • Stu

    Tony, while I agree with your condemnation of wars fought for control of oil resources, I don’t really see how the whole climate change debate is so dangerous. Regardless of your belief in the scientific evidence, I think it’s hard to deny that fossil fuel resources are finite and that, at some point or another, we are going to have to concentrate on alternative, renewable sources of energy.

    And, in my view, population growth is not currently one of the most serious environmental issues facing us, as the vast majority of population increases are in the ‘developing’ world where resource consumption and environmental impact is very low in comparison with the west. Population is actually declining in many ‘developed’ countries and, where it’s not, increases are being driven by people living longer rather than by high birth rates. So campaigns in the UK for people to have fewer children are, I think, a little misguided.

  • mary

    Morning Star editorial

    Shabby and degraded

    Tuesday 24 November 2009

    TV pictures of the opening session of the Chilcot inquiry will not have brought reassurance to peace and justice campaigners, the families of dead British soldiers or, if they are aware of it, the people of Iraq.

    Cosy images of privately educated career diplomats chatting affably around a table looked for all the world like the Establishment talking to itself.

    And yet chairman Sir John Chilcot must be aware that his inquiry carries the hopes of millions of people who have been revolted by the whitewashes of recent years.

    Anonymous legal figures have already panned the inquiry for not having a judge or senior QC on board, insisting that this means that there can be no pronouncement of guilt or innocence.


    Also a report by Paddy McGuffin


    War Crimes Whitewash

  • Get out now!!

    It seems all the good guys have already jumped this ship of fools, for the sake of their sanity.

    I wonder is this spokeswoman and her colleagues not in some self-denying mental psychosis. That often happens in authoritarian states where accountability and scrutiny are absent.

    Or, does she really think the British people believe their lies any more?

    “a Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government “rejects in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that a policy of complicity in torture has been in place”.

    She went on: “The report’s allegations are not new and we have responded to them in Parliament. Some of these cases have already been considered and rejected by the UK courts.

    “We have taken a leading role in international efforts to eradicate torture. There is no truth in suggestions that the security and intelligence services operate without control or oversight.

    “There is no truth in the more serious suggestion that it is our policy to collude in, solicit, or even directly participate in abuses of prisoners. Nor is it true that alleged wrongdoing is covered up.” ”

  • JimmyGiro


    Interestingly you say peer review as though it is a panacea towards truth, in a thread that is questioning a political ‘peer review’ for its inherent bias.

    As Mr Eugeniedes points out, some peer reviews are no more than circle-jerks.

  • tony_opmoc


    Indeed, this is what Al said in response, before it disappeared in a puff


  • Ruth

    They seem to carry on putting on the same old shows over and over again with a predetermined outcome. Each time the distance between them and us grows. They are our fellow citizens but in reality they are our enemies bent on deluding us with their silly little games. They need routing.

  • Ruth

    The best impartial and in depth reading I have found on Terrorism, the UK’s and US’s role in Saddam’s Iraq etc is work done by Nafeez Ahmed and can be found at voltairenet

  • sam

    I wonder is this spokeswoman and her colleagues not in some self-denying mental psychosis. That often happens in authoritarian states where accountability and scrutiny are absent.

    Get out now!! at November 24, 2009 8:10 PM

    >>>Most of the time, I believe these people are so mired in the culture they are surrounded by that they absolutely cannot see the wrongness of their beliefs and actions. It is psychologically more comfortable to cling to a ‘tribe’ which has brought them security. Ego defences do not allow most people to admit their wrongthinking and crimes, even to themselves.

    We have to remember that these people have been led in into unlawful activities by leaders who are even more deluded: ‘God told me to do it’. (quoting Bushbliar).

    Stanley Milgram’s horrible experiments: apply.

    The whole of the UK is run by these deluded tribesfolks now. They will stop at nothing to coverup their lies and crimes. Not a one of them is able to think independently and just ‘do the right thing’.

    In our arrogance, we humans have learnt nothing, absolutely nothing…

  • Anonymous

    Stanley Milgram summarized the experiment in his 1974 article, “The Perils of Obedience”, writing:

    The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.

    Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[4]

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