To Archive List PageLord Butler, the man who made the 2003 Iraq war possible*, seems to have exposed most of the Blair government's dodgy doings but he failed to include the obvious conclusions in his report.
   "No one is to blame," is his message.
Which leaves him with about as much credibility as Tony Blair.

* see below

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The Background ...

On September 11th, 2001, Al Qaida terrorists hijacked 4 airliners in the United States. Two aircraft were used to destroy the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and one damaged the Pentagon. The fourth also crashed, but not on a high-profile target as the passengers fought back against the hijackers.
   As Al Qaida presented no clear targets for retribution, the current President Bush turned his sights on Iraq. His father had failed to topple Saddam Hussein after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and George Bush Jr. felt that there had to be a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida, which gave him an excuse for a pop at Saddam.
   In the UK, Prime Minister Tony Blair was eager to suck up to President Bush and he saw joining Bush in a war with Iraq as a good way of showing his loyalty. Blair's only problem was convincing his colleagues to go to war when the United Nations refused to back the idea.
   MI6 had gathered mass of information on Iraq – most of it from unreliable sources and not supported by independent confirmation. Included in the 'spy data' (we refuse to call it 'intelligence' as this quality is completely lacking from the story) were claims that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
   Gathering spy data inside Iraq ended for the CIA and MI6 when the weapons inspectors were expelled in 1998. MI6 recruited a foreign diplomat in Baghdad and gave financial support to 2 major groups of Iraqi exiles in London. Vast rewards were on offer for details of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, and its nuclear weapons, and so the new spies told their British spy-masters what they wanted to hear – at vast profit to themselves.
   Much of the spy data came from 2 men who were introduced to MI6 as members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle. In fact, they were con-men, who spun a convincing yarn of Weapons of Mass Destruction and an active nuclear weapons programme to the MI6 handlers, who drank it all in eagerly.
   When they were unable to validate the spy data, MI6 surrounded it with cautionary warnings. Desperate for something to justify a war with Iraq, Joint Intelligence Committee head John Scarlett sent out an email pleading for ammunition. MI6 boss Richard Dearlove contributed what he claimed was a reliable report from a senior Iraqi military officer, which assured Scarlett that 'Iraq may be able to deliver stocks of CBW to military units and have them ready for firing in 20-45 minutes'.
   Blair's henchmen converted 'may be able' into absolute certainty. And by stripping all evidence of warnings and doubts from this mass of dodgy spy data, they cobbled together the shock-horror scenario of Iraq having 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' which could – definitely and beyond any shadow of a doubt – be deployed by military units within 45 minutes.
a modern Walter Mitty
Walter Mitty, eat
your heart out!
   Blair and his henchmen, working behind the scenes and without reference to the full Cabinet, were able to frighten themselves with the prospect of long-range ballistic missiles tipped with CBW weapons which could be fired at British troops in Cyprus – even though the spy data referred only to short-range battlefield weapons.
   This 'eye-catching' scare story was fed to Parliament and the nation's press. JIC head Scarlett insisted that all senior members of the 'intelligence community' were happy with the dodgy dossier, even though Dr. Brian Jones (head of the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Intelligence branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff at the MoD) had put in writing, a complaint about the 'misleading dossier'.
   Robin Cook, then foreign secretary, knew that the spy data behind the dossier referred to battlefield weapons, not weapons mounted on ballistic weapons, but P.M. Blair would have us believe that he didn't know that (which is probably a case of either wilful ignorance or False Memory Syndrome).
   Attorney General Lord Goldsmith told P.M. Blair that he could not go to war with Iraq on the basis of the UK being under threat. In March 2003, Blair assured Goldsmith that Saddam Hussein was in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 based on outdated and unreliable spy data, which let Goldsmith declare war with Iraq legal with a clear conscience.
   Three days later, Blair used the Attorney General's go-ahead, and the imaginary threats cobbled together in 2 dodgy dossiers, to bamboozle the Commons into voting in favour of war.
   Even though Iraq posed no immediate threat to the UK, the nation went to war at the side of the Americans at 02:30 hrs. GMT on 20th March, 2003, Saddam Hussein was toppled and Iraq descended into chaos. And as a spin-off from the war, a country which had been closed to Al Qaida terrorists beforehand became a safe haven for them afterwards.

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Rumbles of Dissent ...

When BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan exposed the fact that the 2002 dossier had been 'sexed up' by Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell, another war broke out. As a direct result of this war:

  • Lord Hutton whitewashed Blair and his henchmen
  • Andrew Gilligan was hounded out of his job
  • The BBC's chairman and the director general were also hounded out of their jobs
  • Government weapons expert Dr. David Kelly was hounded and harassed until he took refuge in suicide, convinced that his reputation had been destroyed by his employers
  • The BBC acquired a top management of spineless stooges
  • Blair & Campbell realized that they were fireproof, as far as official investigations were concerned, if they picked the right man for the job.

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What Butler Said (or should have said) ...

  • Downing Street manipulated 'seriously flawed' spy data to suit Prime Minister Blair's own ends.
  • Previously unpublished threat assessments show that Saddam Hussein was not considered an immediate threat to the UK.
  • Iraq did not have the stockpiles of chemical & biological weapons claimed by Blair.
  • The claim that Iraq could deploy WoMD in 45 mins should never have been included in the 2002 dossier. This claim was included because Downing St. was obsessed with spin and the concept was 'eye-catching'.
  • Blair and his henchmen cynically stripped from their dossier, warnings that the spy data was limited and unreliable to make their case for war, and create the impression that they had solid spy data to back up their arguments. Every useful scrap of spy data was pushed to the absolute limit.
  • Blair made key decisions with his 'sofa cabinet' of henchmen, which included his press secretary, Alastair Campbell, and his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, and excluded his real cabinet of government ministers.
  • John Scarlett, then head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, let the Downing Street spin machine write the dodgy dossier.
  • Scarlett let Alastair Campbell persuade him to assume 'ownership' of the dodgy dossier.
  • The JIC should not have claimed ownership as doing so gave the dodgy dossier a spurious authority
  • Experts in the MoD's Defence Intelligence Staff should not have been 'cut out of the loop' when the dossier was prepared.
  • Too much emphasis was placed on reports from an 'untried' source on Iraq's alleged chemical and biological weapons. MI6 had just 2 main sources, and it had severe doubts about one of them. And this doubtful source provided the spy data on WoMD.
  • Tony Blair deceived MPs when he told them that his 2002 dossier was based on extensive, detailed and authoritative spy data.
  • During the rush to war, no new spy data was obtained to make Iraq more of a danger than other members of the Axis of Terror, and ministers, officials and spy chiefs were negligent in failing to reassess the quality of the available spy data during this period.
  • Attorney General Lord Goldsmith is in the clear because P.M. Blair gave him a categorical, if unsupportable, assurance that Saddam Hussein was in breach of UNSCE 1441.
  • If the government believes its own lies, then everything is okay.

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The Butler Committee ...

  • Lord Butler of Brockwell created this job for himself back in 1997 when he made what he admits is the terrible mistake of giving political appointees Jonathan Powell and Alastair Campbell authority over civil servants. This debasement of the previously impartial civil service allowed Campbell to chair meetings of civil servants and spy chiefs, including sessions of the JIC, and the pair of them sending out emails soliciting 'evidence' to make Saddam Hussein look more of a threat to the UK. Through this blunder, it could be argued, Lord Butler made the 2003 Iraq war inevitable.
  • Sir John Chilcot is a career diplomat who has held senior positions in the civil service. He was principle private secretary to William Whitelaw when he was home secretary and he headed the Northern Ireland Office for 7 years.
  • Lord Inge was chief of the defence staff from 1994 to 1997 and now sits in the Lords as a crossbencher.
  • Ann Taylor MP chairs the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, which has already held an Iraq inquiry and found that the spy chiefs didn't tell P.M. Blair about huge holes in their data on Saddam Hussein's WoMD programmes. Taylor took it upon herself to howl at opposition leader Michael Howard during the Commons debate on the Butler Report.
  • Michael Mates MP is a Tory backbencher, he chairs the Northern Ireland select committee and he is a member of the Commons ISC. He had to quit the job of Northern Ireland minister after lobbying on behalf of fugitive businessman Asil Nadir.

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The terms of reference ...

  • To investigate available information on the WoMD programmes of countries of concern and the global trade in WoMD.
  • To investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WoMD up to March 2003.
  • To examine any discrepancies between the spy data and used by the government before the 2003 Iraq war, and further data gathered by the Iraq Survey Group since the end of the war.
  • To make recommendations to the prime minister for the future on the gathering, evaluation and use of spy data on WoMD taking into account the difficulties of operating in countries of concern.

The committee was asked to report before the summer parliamentary recess of 2004. Following the precedent of the Franks Committee on the Falklands War, the Butler Inquiry was allowed access to all spy data and assessments of it, and other relevant government papers. It was allowed to call witnesses, who gave oral evidence in private. The committee worked in consultation with the US inquiry into the 2003 war and the Iraq Survey Group.

Note: This report was compiled according to official government standards of accuracy and verification.

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