The Iraq Inquiry has taken us back again to that period where the government had engaged in a massive military build up ready to invade Iraq, and was desperately looking for evidence on WMD to trigger the invasion – an invasion on which the Washington neo-cons had pinned their entire hopes for the future of the Bush presidency.
Just at that crucial time, one of the UK’s foremost experts on Iraqi WMD had let slip to the BBC that the government’s claims did not stand up. As a result, he was found dead in a wood, while the BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan, who correctly reported that there were no WMD, was fired for telling the truth.
The punishment of the BBC for failing to unquestioningly echo Blair lies went much further. The Chairman and Director General were forced out. All because the BBC said there may have been no WMD, when there were not.
It is almost incredible even now to state what New Labour have done. God know what future historians will make of it.
The BBC was traumatised, and went through an acceleration of cultural change that prized “managers” over journalists, and stopped criticising government. A foundation stone of democracy had been blasted away by Tony Blair.
Kelly’s death was extremely convenient for Blair, Cheney and a myriad of other ultra ruthless people. It paved the way for war. We should not forget how very crucial the WMD issue was in convincing enough reluctant New Labour MPs to go along. Without the UK there would have been no coalition – most of the other Europeans would have quickly dropped out too. It is by no means clear that, despite Cheney’s bluster, the Americans would have invaded Iraq alone.
So Kelly was the first man killed in the Iraq war. Hundreds of thousands of people died in Iraq after Kelly. Arms manufacturers, mercenary companies and the security industry made tens of billions in profit. That’s a powerful motive to remove an obstacle. The Western oil companies are getting back into Iraq.
We will never know if Kelly would have gone on to repeat his – perfectly correct – doubts about Iraqi WMD, or if he would have shut up, as ordered by Tony Blair through the MOD. I do know, as many doctors have attested, it is extremely unlikely to bleed to death by cutting a wrist. I do know that the paramedics who attended said there was very little blood at the scene. I do know that the painkillers he took were a tiny proportion of a fatal dose and were not an anticoagulant. I do know that a chemical weapons expert like Dr Kelly would know better ways to kill himself.
And I do know that the government is keeping the evidence hidden for seventy years.