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.

63 thoughts on “Iraq Inquiry: The First Big Lie

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  • Duncan McFarlane

    It’s bound to be a white-wash in it’s conclusions – the best we can hope for is for some of the testimony to reveal some of the truth

    Sam – very true – and exactly what Primo Levi said about the prison guards at Auschwitz – he said they mostly weren’t evil people, just people considering whether they’d be punished for disobeying orders, whether they’d be ridiculed, whether it’d damage their careers – so something as bad could happen again in any country at any time.

  • writerman

    One of the main characteristics of ‘senile democracy’, in practice as opposed to theory, is that ‘reform’ of the system, the structure of power relationships, becomes more or less impossible ‘from within’.

    Normally society is controlled and run by a powerful elite, for their benefit and according, more or less, to their rules. Sometimes, for brief periods, the reins are loosened somewhat and the elite can and are challenged, their rule and cultural hegenomy questioned. This is usually connected to twin scourges of economic collapse and war, today one can add on environmental descruction on a global scale.

  • Jon

    @all – JimmyGiro above refers to a post of mine, in which I responded to tony_opmoc’s climate change denial. That post, from 8pm-ish last night, has sadly been deleted for reasons unknown.

    In it I criticised the position that the media are brainwashing us with pro-climate change material; the truth is that whilst the media generally accept that the climate is changing due to man-made behaviour, they are actively avoiding proposing that we do anything *meaningful* about it. The latest Media Lens book contains much on this topic, including how the liberal “green” papers are still accepting advertising from airlines, car manufacturers, etc. – very much business as usual.

    The final point I had made was that whilst climate change deniers (such as Tony) claim to have in-depth knowledge about physics and geology to support their position, it is unlikely they are more knowledgable on these things than the climatologists. My point on peer review is that, as far as I know, no paper disproving generally accepted climate science has survived the review process.

    @JimmyGiro – the Iraq Inquiry can hardly be called peer review. As pointed out earlier in this thread, if the panel was balanced, and was not hobbled from the start, then we might have more faith in it. Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with peer review itself – it’s just that the peers in this case are demonstrably biased.

    Indeed, if we throw out peer review and the scientific principles of unbiased scrutiny, how are we ever to make discoveries as a society?

  • Craig

    Jon and Tony Opmoc

    It was deleted because I am pissed off with people posting on climate change whatever the actual subject under discussion.

  • Jon

    Well, now you’ve pissed me off too. Christ, you know how to be properly rude to your supporters and volunteers, don’t you!

  • Control

    Craig – have you seen the Times editorial today? Laughable

    ‘There have already been two parliamentary inquiries into the Iraq war, along with Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the death of David Kelly and Lord Butler of Brockwell’s inquiry into prewar intelligence. It is increasingly obvious that some zealots will hold all such inquiries tainted until and unless they arrive at the “right” answer concerning Mr Blair’s supposed abuse of office. These sentiments have nothing to do with public inquiry. They are a demand for quasi-judicial processes to supplant the decisions of an elected government.’

  • tony_opmoc

    It’s Craig’s website. He can delete what he likes. We must keep on topic in class. As regards the Iraq Inquiry, its as interesting to me as watching cricket, or paint or whitewash drying due to the participants – for reasons which have already been well illustrated. I’d rather go and watch a pantomime.

    My contributions were more associated with the issue of lieing obviously illustrated with a politically incorrect example…

    So here’s a nice song instead

    “Hide the Decline”, by Minnesotans for Global Warming


  • mary

    Day 1

    US discussed Iraq regime change a month after Bush took office, senior British officials say

    and on Lyne from medialens


    Last two sentences.

    He is an advisor to JP Morgan Chase who have been chosen to operate the Trade Bank of Iraq, which will give banks access to the financial system of Iraq.

    He was a special adviser to BP, which currently has major interests in Iraq.

    He is disqualified on at least two counts – past and present financial interest.

    Chilcot and chums will not be using whitewash. Instead it will be oils, crude oils.

  • Ruth

    ‘There have already been two parliamentary inquiries into the Iraq war, along with Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the death of David Kelly and Lord Butler of Brockwell’s inquiry into prewar intelligence. It is increasingly obvious that some zealots will hold all such inquiries tainted until and unless they arrive at the “right” answer concerning Mr Blair’s supposed abuse of office. These sentiments have nothing to do with public inquiry. They are a demand for quasi-judicial processes to supplant the decisions of an elected government.’

    I see the Times is using propaganda to prepare the ground for the preprepared decision of the inquiry.

    How carefully they used the word ‘zealots’

  • hawley_jr

    ‘According to previously leaked documents, Ricketts, political director at the Foreign Office at the time, described the US in 2002 as “scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida”, a link that was “so far frankly unconvincing”. He told Jack Straw, then foreign secretary: “We have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for. Regime change does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam.”‘

    He says “We have to be CONVINCING that the threat is so serious…”, which implies that his discussion with Straw was about how to persuade.

    If he had said, “We have to be CONVINCED that the threat is so serious…”, one could believe that they were discussing the need for war.

  • JimmyGiro


    I sympathise with your desire for fair play and unbiased review; it’s one of the few things in these political fora that most want despite our great differences.

    Alas, politics, no problem in itself, is about our differences; and power, again no problem on its own, is about imposition of ‘solutions’. But politics and power, are the ingredients of a chemical reaction, of which one of the by-products is often malfeasance.

  • Mark

    Excellent post Craig, succinctly dissecting all of the panel members, 4 of whom are hardly ‘disinterested’.

    As for the Baroness, I’m sure you’re right, that’s the Cabinet Office box tickers at work.Her Ditchley connection means she’s essentially ‘sound’, and not a ‘zealot’, as the Thunderer would have it. Unfortunately I think the only other ‘woman of colour’ in the Ditchley stable is Shami Chakrabharti, so that made Baroness Prashar something of a shoo-in, given Chakrabharti’s relative youth, and complete lack of foreign policy experience.

  • George Laird

    Dear Craig

    Great piece on Chilcot.

    I am impressed, it is these insights that you have of the people that makes interesting reading.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • ingo

    I have exported your excellent words to other websites, as your words, off course and have written my own bit of verbals on this extraordinary clutch of privy councillors today.

    Its come out tonight that Saddams chemical weapons were not only disassembled, but their pre cursors had not even been mixed, far from being ready at all. secondly, he had no launcher to lopp them from.

    Well, well who would have guessed, should we have not known after the brazilian UN diplomat Jose Bustani was outed by the Bolton/Bush team. He was a very good diplomat who might have succeeded, hence he was in the way of a war and had to be sidelined.

    So lets not call this news, just a fact that was not deemed important enough by the media and power brokers of the time, it was hushed.

    He was an able diplomat who could have succeeded in signing Saddam up, making any efforts to paint him as the bad madman, sound dislodged and unreasonable.

    The OPCW could have succeeded and taken all these chemicals, which he bought from us, away again, making a future Halabja highly impropable.

    Where the Bush team was interested in obfusing and controlling the UN agenda, Bustani’s marked success was in their way, reasoning in Europe did not succeed either.

    But as we all have seen on our screens, the boys wanted war, badly, their vested interest in, ahem godly warfare in the interest of all, especially those of the Carlyle Trust and another national arms firm already in the news for cheating the taxpayer.

    Summing up, these cheats are now out to waste good money telling us that they are not responsible and not culpable, a whitewash team extraordinaire, a clutch of privy councillors who just couln’t pull a herring of a plate, even if they were allowed to do so.

  • George Dutton

    “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.”

    “The Brits previously revealed that intelligence and purported facts of Iraq’s weapons programs were “fixed around” the pre-set policy of invading Iraq.”…

  • Inquiry Report

    Clearly the whole Iraq episode has been a horrible mistake, based on faulty and conflicting intelligence reports at a time of unfolding crisis with an urgent need to make quick decisions.

    Yes. Mistakes were made. And, whilst clearly there are some very hard lessons to learn from this experience, obviously no one individual is to blame.

    I’m afraid the system failed us on this occasion, and we recommend a full review of all operating procedures, to ensure nothing like this happens again and again and again…

    That’ll be £17,682,456.89, please.

  • anno

    The Stanley Milgram experiment.

    I absolutely do not accept the conclusions of these pseudo-scientific social experiments, that most humans will follow the herd and commit crimes when set up to role play positions of authority over other groups who are role playing defenceless victims.

    I have always found it a dangerous and offensive excuse which gets soldiers off the hook for committing war crimes. Before entering the social experiment, the individuals were each capable of smelling a rat and abstaining. I was educated privately with the sons of the great and good and I instinctively rejected everything they stood for and dreamt of achieving in their lives. I perceived the whole bunch with very rare exceptions as corrupt, ruthless, self-obsessed would-be criminals. They were no different then, than when they now control vast private or establishment institutions.

    No. I absolutely refuse to accept that an individual does not have enough free will to detect and avoid crime, unless they are living under the control of an absolute tyrant, who will torture or murder them and their families if they don’t comply. These excuses have become commonplace in the media and I believe them to be part of the conspiracy to persuade ordinary citizens to condone the inhumanity of modern warfare and Intelligence gathering crimes.

  • dreoilin

    It’s all a farce.

    “Gordon Brown was accused of strangling the inquiry into the Iraq war at birth yesterday by refusing to let it make public sensitive documents that shed light on the conflict.

    “A previously undisclosed agreement between Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry and the Government gives Whitehall the final say on what information the investigation can release into the public domain …

    “Crucially, disputes between Sir John and the Government over disclosures would be resolved by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell.”

  • ingo

    Yes. Mistakes were made. And, whilst clearly there are some very hard lessons to learn from this experience, obviously no one individual is to blame.

    I’m afraid the system failed us on this occasion

    Inquiry report, the mistakes were generated, they were not just left to happen by chance, the system has been manipulated many times before.

    Unless we reform Government and how we elect and choose our reps, whether we make them accountable for the wage they earn, or let them scheme at free will, we will not get change to a sytem that is mallable by greed and envy.

  • Jon

    Well, Craig, if you are proud of being rude to me – as I suppose I should have expected you to be, given your colourful history – then I have no further sanctions left.

    Meanwhile you appear to leave untouched strings of posts from Tony variously about his wife, his wife’s doctor’s advice, how lucky he is to be married to his wife, his daughter’s studies, his son’s internet business, the bands they go to see – and as you know, the tiresome, irrelevant list goes on. Yet when I make a reasonable response to correct an off-topic post, it’s me that gets clobbered.

    Still, Tony is right – your systems are private property and you can delete reasonable posts and keep the drunken ones if you wish. But the more you do that, the less people will spend time commenting, lest your itchy delete finger render their input a waste of time.

    In my case, you run the risk also of alienating a volunteer who drove a 300 mile round-trip, suffered car breakdown half way, and ferried you and volunteers around, to support your candidancy in NN. A degree of politeness would therefore be appropriate, I would think.

  • ingo

    Just to say that you are not alone in your quest for more and more Tony space on here, Jon, I agree with your points made and we must give more web psace to the needy.

    And thanks for your support in Norwich North, it was appreaciated, I like meeting new people who can think out of their alotted box.

    Copenhagen matters to all fathers, its relevance is overshadowing other, equally important issues surrounding human rights, torture and illegal wars, the EU’s new administration, the moralist drugs policies, meaning cheaper alcohol for all, and much much more.

    I for one enjoy your posts on here Jon.

  • Craig

    Jon –

    Sorry, I should explain that I intended to delete both Tony’s response and your reply to it, rather than just your reply. I think I perhaps deleted the wrong one of his comments. It really wasn’t you I was cross with. Tony had sidetracked I think the last three entries into climate change denial, and I was getting fed up with it. You were collateral damage, for which I apologise.

  • Theon Lyreal

    We all know for whom Anthony Blair was working, even if some people are too diplomatic to mention it. He was recently paid off with a $10 million “prize” from ‘Israel’. Talk about making it obvious!!!

  • Diogenes

    Democracy and Christianity are both tools of the powerful, in order to maintain and promote a powerful hidden elite. We have witnessed the lack of respect they have for humanity. Soon we will be next to oppose them and suffer the consequences, either way.

  • james brown

    watching the panel chunter on with questiionsakes one wonder why-if it is public money it could not be carried out against a planned programme and made into a fixed price contract,,,?

    worse why carry on when the Haitti disaster needs so many funds to help prevent loss of life far exceeding the total loss in i raq to date? a waste of money= our governments continually never seem to learn

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