The most revealing moment of the Iraq Inquiry so far – probably the most revealing moment we will ever get – occurred yesterday in the evidence of Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff. A stark sun ray of truth burst through for just a few seconds before the Committee allowed it to be closed over by the fog of chummy complicity that has characterised these evidence sessions.
Asked whether he agreed with Sir Jeremy Greenstock that more time for diplomacy would have been helpful before the invasion started. Powell bluntly disagreed. As there were in fact no Iraqi WMD, more time would have weakened, not strengthened the case for war. That would have been unhelpful.
Powell had just sliced clean through the mound of lies constructed by himself, Alistair Campbell and Sir David Manning (you can tell when Manning lies – his lips move). After a huge pile of verbiage claimimg that the War was only about WMD, Powell had just admitted that they were absolutely bent on war whether there were WMD or not – indeed WMD were a problem, as the lack of them weakened the case for war.
This is where any person of average intelligence on the committee would have siezed on what Powell had just said. He had just admitted they wanted war irrespective of whether Saddam might have any WMDs. But the committee failed completely to pick up on the point. They moved swiftly on. They allowed the clouds of obfuscation to roll swiftly back in.
That is because the entire committee at abse agree with Powell. They accept the premiss that the war was a good thing. The composition of the committee, entirely from known pro-war advocates, is a national disgrace.
That nobody should even put to Powell the thought that perhaps, as Iraq had no WMD, the war was not neceassary, is as revealing of the Committee’s guilt as it is of Powell’s. Similarly, Powell was permitted several times to refer to 9/11 as leading to the war in Iraq, without anybody on the Committee ever putting to him the lack of connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
No matter how stubborn the truth may be, it is not beyond the committee and the media to ignore it.
Which helps account for the quite astonishing fact that 32% of the electorate apparently think that Tony Blair genuinely believed in Iraqi WMD. It is a great pity that we don’t have any breakdown on the other social and political attitudes of these extraordinary people.
I am going to spend the next few weeks sitting on the tube wondering which third of the passengers is dull enough to buy that.
Powell, meantime, appears to have taken lessons from that other war criminal, Radzvan Karadzic, on image makeover.