January 29, 2004


The Hutton inquiry is in, and it’s all bad news for the BBC:

A report by the BBC that the British government deliberately exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was "unfounded," investigating judge Brian Hutton said on Wednesday.

Some people predicted this outcome as far back as last July. Advantage: Jarvis. Also, advantage Chavetz.

UPDATE. Goodbye, BBC chairman Gavyn Davies.

The ABC’s coverage of the Hutton inquiry hasn’t turned out to be very accurate, has it? This exchange last September between the AM program’s David Hardaker and ABC London correspondent Fran Kelly was typical:

FRAN KELLY: That's the Hutton Inquiry that's going on, resumes again next week, into the apparent suicide of Dr David Kelly and that's all to do with this BBC claim that the Government sexed up the dossier. There's been a lot of reporting coming out of that inquiry, a lot of embarrassing things being said there, embarrassing for the Government and people generally have judged it very negatively for Tony Blair ...

DAVID HARDAKER: There's more to come next week at the Hutton Inquiry. Does that hold any more problems do you think for Tony Blair?

FRAN KELLY: Absolutely, undoubtedly I would say.

UPDATE. The British Prime Minister politely requests:

The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 29, 2004 12:27 AM

I can't wait for the leftists to start spouting conspiracy theories to explain this.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested, the full report is available on the Hutton Inquiry website.

Posted by: EvilPundit at January 29, 2004 at 12:58 AM

SMH's Fray http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/01/28/1075088091250.html
says Blair NARROWLY survives Hutton . Jesus , did he even read the report summary or any of the press reports in the UK. Even the BBC's own website says it's toast and Blair is exonerated

Posted by: Chap at January 29, 2004 at 01:06 AM

the findings are in:
blair didnt lie.
government didn't lie.
scientist killed himself after his conscience assailed him for talking to an allegedy corrupt bbc "journalist" who misrepresented him, the facts, the goverment, the PM, and the truth.
david kelly was an honest man - he couldnt cope with his honesty being turned into dishonesty by the fantatist gilligan.

Posted by: verity populi at January 29, 2004 at 01:07 AM

And the silence on the SMH website is deafening, about 3 sentences devoted to it! Imagine if it had been the other way around.

Even here in London, the BBC TV news is saying, "well, 96 per cent of people still feel this is an issue that only concerns Tony Blair", ie, its all about his honesty.

I hope the australian ABC are next.

Posted by: nic at January 29, 2004 at 01:16 AM

Well, nic, no wonder that the BBC is still trying to spin it as Blair's problem. It appears the Grauniad is fingering the Beeb, and if the Grauniadistas have turned against their fellow useful idiots at the Beeb then I don't think that Blair has anything to worry about.

Posted by: R. C. Dean at January 29, 2004 at 01:37 AM

Tony Blair is only capable of telling the truth by accident, but I still couldn't believe he would take his country to war on the basis of a completely fabricated document. Shame on the BBC for standing behind Gilligan when his Baghdad reports had mixed naivety and Iraqi propaganda in equal measure.

Posted by: rexie at January 29, 2004 at 03:38 AM

You think there's the chance that Gilligan was deliberately not giving accurate info in Baghdad, so as not to give away troop movements to the enemy?

If I we're the head of the Beeb, I could spin them out of this pickle. Luckily they are too arrogant to imagine that they are vulnerable.

Posted by: Papertiger at January 29, 2004 at 04:52 AM

Note: I'm a big fan of the BBC in general, and I have been for a long time. I regularly watch BBC World News on Pay TV as I like their reporting on many issues and I even like the interstitual music they use. But lately...

I've just finished watching around three hours of BBC World TV coverage of the Hutton report (while flicking back and forth to UK Sky TV). The BBC devoted a whole special report to it and it seemed to go for several hours. Although the BBC coverage was a lot better than I thought it would be, it still left a lot to be desired.

The pattern seemed clear. Let the BBC hosts (mainly Nick Gowan (sp?)) take a relatively neutral approach and let the guest "experts" defend the BBC and/or cast doubt on Lord Hutton's findings. Some of the people they spoke to flatly rejected the report's findings, and they were not challenged to back their opinions up. The odd pro-government guest that stuck the boot in to the BBC was allowed to speak with little interruption, but once they finished Gowan moved on to the next expert with barely a ruffled feather. The vast majority of the debates were about the government's failings - until the first BBC resignation, then they started talking about the future of the BBC, though still casting the corporation as the victim.

Nick Gowan was the biggest dissapointment for me. I've always thought of him as being pretty fair, even if on some complicated issues his questions seem scripted and he gets out of his depth if he departs from the script. But tonight he was clearly, to my eyes, giving the anti-Hutton people far more leeway than they deserved, and almost all of the people he talked to were quick to defend the BBC and nit-pick Hutton - were there really that few experts out there that agreed with Hutton?

Most annoyingly, he latched on to Hutton's statement that editorial policy at the BBC was "defective" by constantly inviting his guests to agree with him that surely the intelligence gathering and reporting was also "defective". Over and over he tried to draw this comparison, despite luke-warm and even negative feedback from his guests, many of whom made the point that the two things are in different leagues.

Ah well, I still love the BBC for its drama and other entertainment, and I still like to watch BBC news and current affairs, but I must admit that over the last few hours they have become a bit more tarnished in my eyes. Lord Hutton makes it clear that even if the intelligence was flawed, the UK government did not KNOW it was flawed, yet the BBC's apology seemed very conditional and mealy-mouthed.


Posted by: Skev at January 29, 2004 at 04:53 AM

He's one of only two real-life Gilligans I've ever heard of. The other is Carol Gilligan, the feminist loon. Apparently, your name is your destiny.

Note to Mr. Gilligan - change your name to Max Power.

Posted by: Dave S. at January 29, 2004 at 05:25 AM

- Skev.

I too love BBC (and to a lesser extent) ABC shows likes comedies/dinosaur documentaries.

But I no longer give them a free ride on news.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 29, 2004 at 06:45 AM

I always find it hilarious that the motto of BBC World is 'Demand a broader view' - this is presumably an invitation either to turn to another channel or to write to the British Government suggesting drastic changes to the Beeb!

By the way Skev, if the Beeb only became a little more tarnished in your eyes recently, you haven't been paying attention. The BBC is a byword in left-liberal media bias, and its reporting on Irag is so bad as to constitute mere propaganda, not 'news'.

Posted by: Richard at January 29, 2004 at 08:07 AM

I really like P.M. Blair's demand that those that made false accusations apologize openly. Where arguments are something to help mature adults reach more enlightened opinions, such apologies will be forthcoming. Unfortunately, I don't expect to see such apologies.

Posted by: Alan M. Robertson at January 29, 2004 at 08:23 AM

Now, can we please hire Hutton to conduct an inquiry into the ABC. If a specific instance needs to be found for the Inquiry, we could start with transcripts of virtually any 'AM' Program over the last 2 years.

Posted by: Richard at January 29, 2004 at 08:33 AM

Fair enough for Blair to demand an apology - but doesn't he still owe the British people an explanation for why the intelligence on which he based his decision was 100% wrong?

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 08:42 AM

Who want's to help me start a rumor website called GilligansLieLand.tv ?

Posted by: Rob Read at January 29, 2004 at 08:50 AM

Well, Mork, it's only 100% wrong in the eyes of loons who wouldn't believe it if Moses came down with the info on stone tablets.

As for an apology, Meatloaf said "two outa three ain't bad" but I'll be surpised if Blair gets so much as any part of one out of three.

Plus, I just got done a bit ago listening to NPR interview Jonathon (?) Freidland (?), who while admitting Blair was exonerated, and admitting (sort of) that the exoneration was justified also managed not to say one word about any liability adhering to the BBC, or what, exactly, that was done wrong could have been done or should have been done differently. He also never mentioned Gilligan at all. Basically, the Beeb got it wrong by accident, and besides, the intelligence wasn't perfect anyway. (Which raises the question, what did the BBC know and when did it know it? If it knew at the time, why didn't it say so? huh? huh?)

Finally, the comment that David Kelley was an honest man who couldn't cope says even more about Gilligan, who apparently is still among the living.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 29, 2004 at 09:00 AM

Tim! Tim! Tim!

It's CHAFETZ. Not Chavetz. Tell Reynolds too!

(exit spelling geek)

Posted by: Jeff B. at January 29, 2004 at 09:47 AM

Well, Mork, it's only 100% wrong in the eyes of loons who wouldn't believe it if Moses came down with the info on stone tablets.

I thought David Kay was supposed to be Moses.

Maybe the Administration should appoint you to find the damn things, if you know where they are.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 09:55 AM

BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies now stepping down & BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan in deeper doodoo than ever.

We got a brand new story about the castaways;
We left our tiny island after years and months and days;
We built a little spaceship, it's crude but it could fly;
We left for home and lost our way between the stars and sky.
What creatures we encounter, what riddles do we face,
What mysteries now haunt us in this strange enchanting place?

Posted by: ForNow at January 29, 2004 at 10:19 AM

Dont fall into that old trick of equivalence, keep it separate.

I would like to know why the intelligence community of nearly every country completely failed on the Iraqi WMD's.

However the BBC must not use this as a smoke screen to cover up its own inadequacies and try to get off the hook. When a publicly funded broadcaster allows a reporter to spout unfounded claims which result in the death of a man through despair - I think that warrants action and reform, regardless of what other things have happened. The issue of lack of WMDs should be dealt with separately and not be used as an reason to excuse the BBC's dreadful conduct.

Good enough for you Mork?

Posted by: Rob at January 29, 2004 at 10:50 AM

Rob: on the one hand I agree entirely that the issues are separate in the sense that the BBC absolutely owes Blair an apology ... and no extraneous consideration affects that obligation.

However, they are linked in the sense that it would be somewhat hypocritical of Blair to demand accountability for other people's conduct throughout that period, and yet refuse to be accountable for his own actions and those of his government.

Speaking of "equivalence", though, don't you engage in a little of it yourself:

I would like to know why the intelligence community of nearly every country completely failed on the Iraqi WMD's.

It's a spineless sleight of hand to argue (as the Administration's surrogates presently are) that they are excused from their errors because either (a) other countries or (b) the Clinton administration also thought that WMDs existed.

There's a big difference: the British and U.S. governments relied on their existence as a justification for a war. The others didn't.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 11:01 AM

G'day Mork,

Actually Clinton DID(!) go to war on the basis of the same intelligence. Remember Oct 1998 in Iraq - masses of bombs, Albright standing up saying that war was necessary, Clinton delivering ultimatums.

Remember Clinton ordering the blowing up of a Sudanese pharmaceuticals factory on the basis of even more flawed intelligence.

The fact that they did in a half-hearted ineffectual fashion doesn't make it any less of a war.

Posted by: Russell at January 29, 2004 at 11:21 AM

"There's a big difference: the British and U.S. governments relied on their existence as a justification for a war. The others didn't."

As if the other governments had the capability to wage the kind of war needed to oust the bastard. At least, you know, "unilaterally".

At the very least, they could go about roundly and unquestionably condemning Saddam's behavior and put constant pressure on him to resign. Or, I don't know, pass some resolutions in the UN threatening "serious consequences" if he did not comply with certain requirements.

Oh, wait a second, they did. And then Russia and France and Germany decided that, oh, hey, by the way, we didn't really mean it when we promised "serious consequences".

Posted by: Steve in Houston at January 29, 2004 at 11:33 AM

Will anyone at the ABC read the Hutton Report and, if so, how much of it will anyone there who does be capable of understanding it?

Posted by: Tony Slade at January 29, 2004 at 11:35 AM

Get real. The others were not in a military-capacity position to use anything as a justification for war. They knowingly leave us to take care of the problem that they perfectly well recognize, while they cynically profit politically by scavenging for influence & bribes (& reaping bribes, apparently) by hampering & deriding us. It’s that simple. Some of them would love for the USA, the UK, & a few others, to be hemmed in by politics, suffer crippling blows, & strike back massively, thereby removing the Islamofascist & North Korean threats with collateral mass horror, so that the Left, happy that the danger is removed, can simultaneously denounce the USA etc. for doing it, & pick up the pieces. They are simply pukes.

We can’t defend ourselves by purely defensive measures. The offensive war against terrorists & proliferators is not one of choice, is not one that we can take on to whatever lesser or greater degree that we choose, & the Iraq invasion & liberation was, in the bigger & longer war, a strategic battle of “choice” only in the sense of sooner or later—later, if one likes the useful-drooling-idiot irresponsibility, reckless self-righteousness, & moral evil of leaving to one’s children the ever increasing danger of the swamp & its growing size, complexity, & opacity—which characteristics are weapons. Saddam & his regime stand the first in line to be blamed for any & all intel failures by the US, UK, France, Russia, or the UN, because Saddam & his regime had no right whatsoever on any account to foster any uncertainty, secrecy or opacity about their WMD & other weapons & weapons programs. Saddam & his regime had no presumption of innocence & could have none of the rights or legitimate grievances of somebody presumed innocent. Almost all anti-war arguments insinuate otherwise, & almost all anti-war arguments seem made by Saddam’s barristers. Saddam, the terrorists, all the bad guys profit from the malign strategic synergies of their sheer simultaneity as threats. It is morally intolerable that they should profit thus. Saddam & his regime had an established prior record of mendacity, oppression, mass savagery, mass murder, invasion, expansionism, WMD research, concealment, & use. They had their mandatory Resolution 1441’s “final opportunity” to come completely clean, a resolution shaped by us to lay down terms & a time frame optimal for us, our allies & our troops at risk especially given the finite windows of opportunity & limits that we & our allies have. It is morally intolerable to demand less than politically, logistically, & technologically optimal conditions for us, our allies, & all of our troops at risk, versus a sadistic expansionist despot presumed guilty. Saddam was a fiend in the wrong place & time in world security conditions permanently changed & ongoingly changing because of accelerative development of technologies adaptable for mass destruction & because of increase in terrorist subcultures eager to use any means, conventional or unconventional, to murder masses of people—none of which the anti-war people address. They can’t afford to think about it because it blows their mental cocoons up. They forget the subject as an infant forgets a ball that rolls behind a chair.

Saddam had his final opportunity & blew it. We got to foster both freedom & security as we saw how they meshed. Tough luck for Saddam & his bullet-riddled sons (they never looked better in their lives), good luck for Iraqis. Freedom rings—leftists snivel & chant that it’s a Nazi war crime.

The question is what moral justification was there to NOT invade Iraq? There was none.

I have yet to see any post-humanist leftist or neo-isolationist rightwinger address—I mean, simply address in any way—even a third of the issues which I’ve just mentioned.

Posted by: ForNow at January 29, 2004 at 11:39 AM

Mork: I think you're missing the point. The Economist published an editorial in the fall of 2003, revisiting the justification for regime change. On the question of WMD, The Economist pointed out that critics of the war have forgotten that the most damning evidence implicating Iraq in the continued existence of its WMD program came not from the Bush administration, but from U.N. weapons inspections reports. The very body that sought to pre-empt the coalition invasion had in fact provided most of the evidence to justify such an invasion.

The reason virtually every intelligence agency in the world still believed Saddam possessed WMD was based not on what Bush was saying, but what was contained in the UNSCOM reports. I've read the final UNSCOM report, issued in early 1999. I have to say, its refreshing to see the U.N. actually come out and accuse bad guys of lying, even if it is in diplomatic language. Strange, however how everyone has forgotten (deliberately omitted?) what is contained in this report. On the question of the biological component of Iraq's WMD, the report reads the U.N. has " no confidence " that Iraq has destroyed its biological weapons or production capacity. Keep in mind as well that this final UNSCOM report was followed by no inspections of any kind for 4 years. Any reasonable person would have to concede that there was more cause to believe Iraq still posssessed WMD as a result of this serious gap in inspections.

People love to forget the past, especially when it doesn't suit their agendas or crusades. The " Bush lied " crowd seems quite happy to suppress scrutiny concerning the real, substantive lies on the issue of WMD. They are Iraqi lies, and they start with lying about the very existence of WMD programs at all, in regard to 2 of the 3 categories of WMD (biological and nuclear). If they could have lied about the chemical component of their program after the Gulf War ceasefire, they would have done that too. Of course there was the little problem of thousands of dead Iranian soldiers and Kurdish civilians from the deployment of chemical weapons in the 1980's.

I find it amazing that people continue to
accuse the Bush administration of lying about the WMD intelligence, when David Kay is now asserting that there is substantial evidence Iraqi scientists deliberately mislead Sadddam into believing Iraq's WMD programs were still functional, while diverting the funding to other projects. If true, this creates the ultimate hypocrisy scenario for the hard left; arguing Bush lied about the existence of non-existent Iraqi WMD, that Saddam still believed he himself possessed.

Posted by: Mike at January 29, 2004 at 11:39 AM

ForNow: Catch your breath buddy, well said.

Posted by: Mike at January 29, 2004 at 11:45 AM

Mike - that would be all very well, but you're forgetting that there was, in fact, an active UN inspection program that was making progress right up to the point at which it had to be removed because of the invasion.

You remember Hans Blix? Remember how he was demonized as a dupe or worse because he told the UN that, yes, there were some unanswered questions, but that they had been unable to find evidence of stockpiles or ongoing weapons programs.

Well, turns out that he was 100% correct. And it also seems pretty clear that had inspections been allowed to continue (a) there was no risk to the U.S or anyone else from Iraqi aggression, and (b) eventually the process would have led to a reasonable assurance that WMD didn't exist.

Once you understand that, the public case for the war simply explodes.

Sure, there were other motives for war, which I agree were pretty persuasive. But to use that as a defense of the administration, you need to confront some pretty damning facts, starting with the fact that the administration lied - outright lied - about what their motives were.

Then you ask, why did they lie? Best case scenario is that because without a threat from Iraq, the war was clearly contrary to international law, and they felt they needed some cover on that front.

Worst case scenario - they lied because they knew that the American people would not support the war if the reasons for it were presented honestly - as Wolfowitz said publicly at the time. I mean, if you had put as a proposition in March 2003 that the President should resign if his statements about WMD turned out to be false, no-one - on any side of the debate - would have disputed it.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 11:57 AM

From well before the invasion I said—not here, but many times at Lucianne.com—that in terms of justifying the war it should not matter whether Iraq has WMD stockpiled high during the runup to the war, & it was never what the invasion & liberation were really about. Bush & Blair tried to bring more people on board by presenting intelligence about current WMD status in Iraq. But Bush clearly argued AGAINST waiting till a threat emerged as imminent. The narrower justification for the war was mandatory UN resolutions going back to 1992. The broader justification & motivation was the strategic place then & in the future of Iraq, under Saddam & then Qusay or Uday, in the swamp of terror & brutality. The tactically obsessed useful idiots, linking tongues with Islamofascists in their hatred of free polities, free markets, freedom of taste, & freedom of debate (if you liked the Soviet Union, then you hate freedom of speech), will not deter us with their tunnelvisionary nitwisdom & cynicism.

Posted by: ForNow at January 29, 2004 at 12:07 PM

The case does not explode if WMD were largely absent from Iraq during the runup to the war. Iraq’s regime posed a long-term threat by its very nature under changed world security conditions with terrorist subcultures & advancing technologies. Its insufficient cooperation was our legitimate excuse to take the bastards out. Which fits in with what I said before. The only thing that explodes is the brain of the anti-war freak who thinks he lives in the early 20th Century with nothing to fear coming down the pike.

Instead, Libya has revealed & skuppered its three-way WMD program with Iran & North Korea. It bagan talks on doing so with the UK & the US during the Iraq invasion, & sealed the deal days after Saddam’s capture. This is futher vindication of the Iraq invasion. Deal with it. We will keep on going until the job is done.

Posted by: ForNow at January 29, 2004 at 12:21 PM

ForNow - I said the public case for war, which was expressly predicated on Iraq possessing chemical and biological weapons and/or being on the verge of producing nuclear weapons.

The absence of WMD or WMD programs doesn't necessarily mean that the invasion was a bad thing, but it absolutely does mean that the reasons that the Administration stated as the basis for war were invalid.

You can't rewrite history now.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 12:30 PM

But you can deflect it into a suitable cul de sac.

Ahhh. You're talking about the same Hans Blix and UN inspections that Saddam allowed to enter Iraq because of - and only because of - the very real US military build up and threat of force right next door. The same inspections that discovered (rather grudgingly in the end) that Saddam was still in breach of UNSCR 1441 (and earlier). The same Blix that in the end decided to redefine and twist the demands of UNSC 1441 so as to make them unrecognizable. The same Blix who decided to refocus simply on the chimaera of a "smoking gun" so as to make Iraq look like it had not really breached 1441. The same inspections that uncovered that Saddam's very final declaration and accounting for his WMD programs was yet again flawed and riddled with deceptions. The same inspections that came up yet again against more and more delays and lack of full and proactive co-operation by the Iraqi regime. The same inspections that lost more momentum every time they played Saddam's game and allowed themselves to be caught in the losing game of negotiating access rather than demanding it. The same inspections that decided "some co-operation" as acceptable rather than the complete and unconditional co-operation that 1441 demanded. The same inspections that allowed themselves to be suborned and diverted from their true role as auditors into the wearily familiar role of hunters for the elusive "smoking gun". The same inspections that could have conceivably gone on for a long, long time - at least until the invasion window had closed. The same ever weakening and compromised inspections that could have dragged on until the US lost patience and dropped their troops into a lower active duty status or even brought their boys back home. The same inspections that would have been brought to an abrupt ending very soon after any such event.

Yes, they were working 100% according to someone's plan.

it's totally off topic according to this inital post.

Posted by: bargarz at January 29, 2004 at 12:40 PM

I said the public case for war, which was expressly predicated on Iraq possessing chemical and biological weapons and/or being on the verge of producing nuclear weapons.

Not quite correct but even so, the onus of proof was on Saddam to provide all information and co-operation that all such programs, apparatus and equipment realting to such programs had been destroyed and accounted for. The very reason why burden of proof lay with Saddam to show that he had eliminated the nasties was because he had already demonstrated his propensity to lie, to hide, to obsfucate, to cheat and retreat for over a decade.

Indeed, one of the very reasons the intelligence organisations of the US, UK, France, Germany etc (and UNSCOM) got it so wrong was because Saddam was not forthcoming at all.

Saddam failed to convince his opponents that he was living up to his PR.

Posted by: bargarz at January 29, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Max Power is a good, manly name -- like mine...

Posted by: Trent Steel at January 29, 2004 at 01:09 PM

That makes three cool names...

Posted by: Lance Uppercut at January 29, 2004 at 01:10 PM

Bargarz - "we don't have any evidence that they have WMD, but they haven't conclusively disproved it" is hardly a stirring call to arms.

As for niggling breaches of 1441, well, Iraq had NEVER been in full compliance with those resolutions, so the question is why that justified war last year, when it didn't before. The answer, according to the administration, was the magnitude of the threat.

Which didn't actually exist.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 01:10 PM

I wonder if animal cruelty charges could be bought against Mork for continuously flogging a dead horse.

Posted by: aussieoldfart at January 29, 2004 at 01:38 PM

Mork: You remember Hans Blix?

Who, Inspector Clouseau? Blix and El Baradei couldn't find their own arseholes, let alone WMD which may or may not have existed at the time.

Don't forget, Blix's people weren't exactly getting full and open cooperation from the Iraqis. I think this strengthens the argument that (a) Saddam knew he didn't have WMD, but wanted to bluff his enemies (and even his friends) that he did without actually saying he did, or (b) Saddam's generals and scientists bullshitted him - couldn't have happened to a nicer arsehole.

Posted by: steve at January 29, 2004 at 02:14 PM

If the coalition had 'lied', then they would also have taken care to plant weapons in Iraq to 'find'. The fact they didn't shows clearly that they EXPECTED to find WMDs. The truth is, everyone--the UN, Arab Govts, Western govts--even, it appears, Saddam--were gulled into thinking the Big Moustache had WMDs. Either that or the fool actually thought everyone would be too chicken to attack him while they thought he had WMds.

Posted by: sophie at January 29, 2004 at 02:23 PM

Steve - the perception that Blix and El Baradei were ineffective was based entirely on the fact that they failed to quickly validate the U.S. intelligence. Why did they fail? You know the answer to that.

As for the "co-operation" argument, well, most of the complaints on that score were made by others, not by them. In their public statements, they basically maintained that they were making reasonable progress - which seems to have been borne out by the facts.

But, regardless of that, let's stipulate that sometimes they didn't get full co-operation from some Iraqis they were investigating. What should we make of that?

Let's then imagine how this all looked from the Iraqi point of view. They knew that they didn't have WMD, right. But here's the U.S. insisting that they do and threatening to invade. Wouldn't their natural assumption be that that the U.S. actually knows the truth and is making all these false statements merely as a pretext to invade? That seems to me to be a far more logical assumption for an Iraqi to make than that the mighty United States is completely and utterly mistaken on such a fundamental question.

Once you reach that conclusion, you ask "what is the purpose of inspections?" given that the U.S. wouldn't be looking for something that they know is not there. The obvious answer is that they are spying to obtain pre-invasion intelligence ... which is exactly what many Iraqis said at the time.

So no wonder they're not as co-operative as they might be.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 02:31 PM

Indeed, one of the very reasons the intelligence organisations of the US, UK, France, Germany etc (and UNSCOM) got it so wrong was because Saddam was not forthcoming at all.

They're not very good intelligence organisations, then.

Posted by: Joe at January 29, 2004 at 02:45 PM

Mork, since you are unable to accept a clear and rational arguement when it is presented to you as has been done above, and *STILL* whine the "bush lied!" catch-cry, let me sink to your level.

Mork, you are without doubt, full of more shit than a Werribee duck.

Posted by: Jake D at January 29, 2004 at 02:54 PM

What this thread, interesting as it is, has to do with Gilligan, Kelly and the Hutton inquiry baffles me.

Posted by: bargarz at January 29, 2004 at 03:09 PM

A final comment on this diversionary line of thought:
Mork commented: Let's then imagine how this all looked from the Iraqi point of view. They knew that they didn't have WMD, right.
Not so fast.

I'd like to see some proof that this was a commonly held belief in Iraqi circles before I pay it much credence. From what accounts I've seen to date, Saddam was either fooled himself by his scientists or was fooling fooling his own generals. Plus as things stood, he certainly believed that with a little help from his friends, he could survive a shooting war against the US. From the Tariq Aziz interrogations:

The interrogations of Tariq Aziz and a number of Iraqi generals seem to be filling in another important part of the WMD picture: the role of the French and Russians in advising Saddam just before the war. It now appears that they convinced him we would repeat our actions of 1991: conduct a long air bombardment, follow it by a land incursion, and then halt short of Baghdad.

Both Aziz and Iraqi Major General Taiee have said that the Russians and French indicated that, during our predicted pause, they would take the steps necessary for Saddam to "buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow."

I wonder how Saddam was able to get such an idea in his head?

And this:

...American and British interrogators have asked dozens of generals who served in high-ranking command roles in Iraqi army divisions during this year — some imprisoned, some living freely — why Hussein did not use chemical weapons to defend Baghdad. A number of these generals have said that they, too, believed chemical weapons would be deployed by Hussein for the capital’s defense. Yet none of the officers admitted receiving such weapons himself.

"The only consistent pattern we've gotten -- 100 percent consistent -- is that each commander says, 'My unit didn't have WMD, but the one to my right or left did,' " said the senior U.S. official involved. This has led some American interrogators to theorize that Hussein may have bluffed not only neighboring governments and the United States, but his own restive generals.

Once you understand that, the case that the Iraqis knew they had no WMD simply explodes.

Posted by: bargarz at January 29, 2004 at 03:29 PM

Mork: Glad you brought up Blix. Let me respond to your last post to me, in which you contend Blix was part of " an active U.N. inspection process that was making progress right up until the point at which it had to be removed because of the invasion."

Precisely what " progress " was Blix making? I think bargarz' post accurately depicts Blix's predisposition toward obstructing the U.S. rather than actually making a definitive determination of Saddam's WMD status. Blix found nothing, which is in keeping with what the previous UNSCOM inspectors found on their own. They found nothing, everything they disposed of in the form of chemical WMD stocks, and chemical and biological production apparatus, was handed to them by the Iraqis. In spite of their inability to proactively find anything, I give the UNSCOM inspectors credit for connecting the dots and coming to the only conclusion that made sense; that Iraq had been repeatedly caught in lies of immense significance concerning its WMD programs, that it had also failed to provide believable accounting for its chemical precursors and biological growth media, as well as plausible proof of claimed unilateral destruction of WMD stocks, therefore it was concealing these stocks, along with production capacity.

UNSCOM couldn't find the WMD, but it wasn't prepared to let Saddam proclaim he was WMD-free. On the contrary, UNSCOM stated he wasn't. And, in spite of Blix's bias, his reports after November 2002 did at times provide surprisingly blunt indictments of Iraq. With regard to VX nerve agent and anthrax, these reports lead one to believe that Blix was actually leaning toward the American position that Saddam was concealing stocks of these. That this fact was under-reported in the lead-up to war is a huge sin of the left dominated, anti-war western media.

To claim Blix was making any meaningful progress is just plain silly. Blix himself, in his first report after inspectors returned to Iraq in late 2002, acknowledged that the bar for him was set higher because of the UNSCOM conclusions, plus the 4 year gap in inspections. Mork, Blix was there for 3 1/2 months, and failed to satisfy any of the accusations leveled by UNSCOM in 1999, particularly in the field of biological weapons. It took UNSCOM 4 YEARS !!!!!!! (1991 to 1995) to prove Saddam was lying about even having a biological weapons program. The initial declaration to the U.N. by Iraq, at the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, was that it had no bio-weapons program. It had conducted rudimentary research only, at a single, identified facility, which it had abandoned prior to the Gulf War. Through painstaking tracking of documents, UNSCOM was able to prove Iraq had purchased massive quantities of growth media. It still took 4 years to get Iraq to admit it had a bioweapons program, and only because the paperwork trail was irrefutable. But this was UNSCOM's only card to play, to get Iraq to admit to the existence of the program, BECAUSE THEY COULDN"T FIND THE STOCKS OR THE PRODUCTION FACILITIES, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE IN-COUNTRY FOR THE ENTIRE 4 years !!!!

Then, after Iraq admitted in 1995 to having a bioweapons program, they still denied weaponizing biological agents. This ended several months later, in 1995, when Saddam's son -in-law defected, and revealed that Iraq had weaponized biological agents, and revealed the existence of the Al-Hakram production facility, WHICH UNSCOM COULDN'T FIND, so don't bother going on about Blix's 3 1/2 months worth of inspections.

Your last reply to Steve, as well as your reply to me, fails to address what I stated in my first post, that much of the American and British case for war comes from U.N. inspection reports. Simply put, you can't keep alluding to " questionable U.S. intelligence," when much of the U.S. intelligence is U.N. intelligence.

Posted by: Mike at January 29, 2004 at 03:31 PM

bargarz - I guess that's a possibility - although we've no real way of knowing ... if we've learned one thing, surely it is that we should be a little distrustful of things that Iraqis are reported to have told American intelligence officials in their debriefings.

But, even accepting that your report is correct, the people who were actually being inspected knew at least that they didn't have any WMD, right?

So on a case by case basis, I think my supposition stands. They could legitimately ask: "why are they inspecting my facility", and reasonably come up with the answer "military intelligence".

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 03:37 PM

G'day Mork,

I note that you did not respond to my point that
Clinton DID(!) go to war on the basis of the same intelligence. Remember Oct 1998 in Iraq - masses of bombs, Albright standing up saying that war was necessary, Clinton delivering ultimatums.

Remember Clinton ordering the blowing up of a Sudanese pharmaceuticals factory on the basis of even more flawed intelligence.

The fact that they did in a half-hearted ineffectual fashion doesn't make it any less of a war.

Any response? (sound of crickets!!!!)

Posted by: Russell at January 29, 2004 at 03:40 PM

During the lead up to the Iraq war, a left-leaning (but otherwise highly intelligent) friend and I debated the merits of going to war in Iraq.

A summary of his arguments against, followed by mine for:

"He'll use chemical weapons"
- He doesn't have the balls

"He doesn't have chemical weapons"
- The UN requires Saddam to prove he's clean, and he hasn't done that yet.

"It'll destabilise the Middle East"
- Given how dysfunctional the whole place is, how worse can it get?

"It'll attract Al Quaeda terrorists to Iraq"
- instead of New York

"My grandfather and his friends fought in the trenches in WW1 for someone else's war"
- And my grandfather fought in North Africa for someone else's war, but that someone else just happened to be fighting guys called Hitler and Mussolini

"It's all for oil"
- makes more sense than fighting for arabs

"the Americans put Saddam where he is"
- and supplied him with MiG and Mirage fighters, T-72 tanks, RPG rocket launchers, Scud missiles, AK-47s, BMP and BTR armoured vehicles . . . . at any rate, Saddam came to power during the Carter administration, and spent eight great post-Desert Storm years still in power during the Clinton administration

blah blah blah . . . . .

Mork, get over it. War is messy, and is not a decision lightly entered into, so why would you deliberately bring it on if there's any way to avoid it without the cost of inaction being even worse.

Deep down, you're secretly happy and secure knowing that Bush is prick enough to pull the trigger, even as you denounce him for doing so. I read some place that a neo-conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. I hope you never get mugged, but when you do, you'll be calling for a cop.

I know it. You know it. The American people know it and that's why they're going to vote Bush-Cheney in 2004.

Roll on Rice-Rumsfeld in 2008!

Posted by: steve at January 29, 2004 at 03:44 PM

Give it up Mork, you silly little puppy. You know you've lost. Just go quietly into the night, playing "Nearer my God to Thee" on your violin as you fade away into oblivion.

I find it difficult to take anyone named after a Robin Williams character seriously.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 29, 2004 at 03:56 PM

Mike - I don't have time to address this in detail, but here's something for you to take a look at - it's Hans Blix's last report to the Security Council.

In my view, it basically refutes your argument. He refers to substantial progress being made in eliminating possible WMD sites and programs, and also refers to a process that was getting underway for Iraq to provide evidence of the destruction of previous stockpiles.

He says that he is basically satisfied with the level of Iraqi co-operation.

He also addresses your other contention - that UN and US intelligence were the same directly, and it's clear that they were not. The US was providing the UN with a great deal of intelligence material that it didn't already have, but Blix is obviously frustrated that the US's need to protect its sources means that it is provided in a form that is a lot less helpful than it might have been.

I'm not saying this with any glee - at the time I, too, was convinced that Blix must have been being duped by the Iraqis. But, with hindsight, it's clear to me that I was wrong and Blix was doing exactly what he was supposed to ... and that if he had been left in place, he would have disproved the presence of WMD before very much longer.

In retrospect, I only wish he'd been less diplomatic about the pressure that the U.S. administration was putting him under ... but he was, if nothing else, a consummate professional.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 03:56 PM

Clinton DID(!) go to war on the basis of the same intelligence.

And named it after a prominent Nazi, to boot!

Clinton Lied, Iraqis died?

Or something like that.

What's good for the goose, is good for the gander. Me and the other RWDBs will apologise as soon as the left apologises for their desire to leave the late 20th century's worse mass-murderer of Arabs continue to sit on his gold toilet.

Somehow, even if they found a giant nuke with Saddam and osama's signature, pointed directly at New York, you guys would still want more.

Grow up.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 29, 2004 at 03:59 PM

Russell - he didn't invade the place. It's just not a very sensible comparison, which is why I didn't propose to comment on it.

Steve - this matters because I believe that a basic honesty in public life is important.

As I'm forced to say on every one of these threads in response to the moronic tendency to demonize anyone who questions the administration as some rabid anti-war leftist, I don't dispute that the invasion was a good thing for Iraq, and probably for the middle east generally (though we won't know for years).

But there is something fundamentally wrong about undertaking a war of choice but attempting to scare your population into believing that it's a war of defense.

I can't believe that it's so difficult to find agreement with that proposition.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 04:04 PM

The wrong G. D. has resigned. Typical public service. Always some fall guy, never the buck stops here. Resign, Greg Dyke.

Posted by: ilibcc at January 29, 2004 at 04:28 PM

Mork: I've read this report before, the one you claim "..... in my view, it basically refutes your argument."

Here are 2 quotes from the report that would seem to " refute your refutal." :

"Another matter - and one of great significance -is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. To take an example, a document, which Iraq provided, suggested to us that some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were "unaccounted for". One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented."

"In my earlier briefings, I have noted that significant outstanding issues of substance were listed in two Security Council documents from early 1999 (S/1999/94 and S/1999/356) and should be well known to Iraq. I referred, as examples, to the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range missiles, and said that such issues "deserve to be taken seriously by Iraq rather than being brushed aside...". The declaration submitted by Iraq on 7 December last year, despite its large volume, missed the opportunity to provide the fresh material and evidence needed to respond to the open questions. This is perhaps the most important problem we are facing. Although I can understand that it may not be easy for Iraq in all cases to provide the evidence needed, it is not the task of the inspectors to find it. Iraq itself must squarely tackle this task and avoid belittling the questions."

Now, how in the hell do you reconcile these statements of Blix as evidence to refute my contention that Blix failed to satisfy any of the accusations leveled by UNSCOM in 1999? It's obvious, the report you've cited SUPPORTS my contention, rather than undermines it. Blix DID NOT provide anything of evidentiary value concerning the final disposition of Iraq's WMD stocks.

How can you suggest he was making " substantial progress " in eliminating potential WMD sites? I repeat my earlier statement. They didn't know where to look, anymore than UNSCOM did. They looked wherever the Iraqis took them. Eliminiating potential WMD sites often involved taking soil samples to determine whether agent had been dumped there. There simply was no way of determining however, whether one liter, 100 litres, or 10,000 litres had been disposed of.

Again, I draw your attention to UNSCOM's inability to prove even THE EXISTENCE of a bioweapons program in Iraq for 4 years. You cannot compare 3 1/2 months of Blix inspections to the timeline and experience of the UNSCOM process. Additionally, you refuse to acknowledge the serious impediment to the Blix investigation that was presented by the 4 year gap in inspections between UNSCOM and UNMOVIC.

In conducting his investigations, and submitting his reports of same, Blix failed to give appropriate weight to both the UNSCOM conclusions and the significance of the four year gap in inspections. How convenient of Blix to state words similar to " We can't account for it, but we nmust not jump to the conclusion that it exists." As I mentioned in an earlier post, UNSCOM couldn't account for it either, but it was forthright enough to take a stand and say " we can't find it, but you don't lie as often and as seriously as the Iraqis have, without plenty to hide."

Finally, I didn't say that " UN and U.S. intelligence were the same directly," as you post. I stated " much of the U.S intelligence is U.N intelligence." There can be no question that this is the case. Most of the intelligence that is not came from Iraqi defectors working for the U.S., along with electronic surveillance. This info was, in many cases, turned over to Blix to assist him. I fail to see how this changes the fact that U.N. weapons inspections provided the most detailed, relied upon information to American and other western intelligence agencies. Of course the Bush administration would seek to use this info in their intelligence assessments, because it was quite damning of Saddam's WMD intentions and capabilities.

Posted by: Mike at January 29, 2004 at 05:02 PM

Just quickly Mork - I think you read too much into my statement about - "nearly all". I did not go on and say that because various intelligence agencies failed it offers an excuse for the countries that participated in the war. Others may be going down that path but not me so I would appreciate it if you would take back the spineless gibe.

To reiterate I was just taking exception what you and most of the British press are coming out with - "overlook the facts that a BBC reporter lied because we all think that Blair lied."

I have nothing against an enquiry into how and why the intelligence on Iraq failed - if that results in Blair and others being roasted then I will be happy to toast marshmellows on his pyre.

Posted by: Rob at January 29, 2004 at 05:02 PM

Mike - you omit the description of how he was discussing with the Iraqi authorities a process of identifying and interviewing those involved in the destruction of the stockpiles in order to address the very problem you cite: that testing soil samples was incapable of either proving or disproving the destruction of the stockpiles.

The bottom line is that there was a process in train that, although imperfect, would have ended up providing a reasonable assurance to all but those determined not to believe that Iraq did not possess WMD.

But the process was cut off by the invasion.

As for your sneering at Blix for not assuming the worst, well, who was right and who was wrong?

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 05:22 PM

G'day Mork,

So your point is that it perfectly OK to reign fire down on people whenever you happen to feel like it or you need a public distraction but attempting to solve a perceived problem is a bad thing. Do you really find this line of reasoning to be internally consistent?

Posted by: Russell at January 29, 2004 at 05:36 PM

NOTE TO ALL - sorry for the malaprops in the previous post

"is that it " = "is that it is"

"to reign fire down" = "to rain fire down"

Typing while holding a sleeping baby is tricky.

Posted by: Russell at January 29, 2004 at 05:39 PM

Russell - I can't imagine how you read that into my response.

My only comment on your posts is that the comparison you made is silly because the strength of the case required for an action should be proportionate to the consequences of the action.

Posted by: Mork at January 29, 2004 at 05:47 PM

Argh I said i wouldn't comment but my final point is summarised here.

Posted by: bargarz at January 29, 2004 at 06:08 PM

G'day Mork,

You made a categorical statement - nobody else went to war on the basis of this flawed intelligence. I pointed out that your categorical statement was contradicted by certain events. You then changed your point to - nobody else invaded. Ever heard of "no true Scotsman"?

I think most of the other posters here would agree that you have a very bad habit of moving the goal posts in your arguments - this is not a sign of intellectual consistency.

Clinton spoke a big game and stated in 1998 that he was going to work to bring down Saddam use the full might and power of the US - from his rhetoric he was fully committing the US to war. Unfortunately Clinton seemed to think that saying you were going to do something was the same as actually doing it.

Posted by: Russell at January 29, 2004 at 06:15 PM

More to the point Mork, its game over. Its done. Saddam is no more. You've lost.

Do you seriously believe in thirty years people will be waving their fingers and going, "Uh, Uh, Uh, naughty cowboy deposing peace-loving Saddam like that. Tut, Tut."*

Stop your whinging.

* Apart from Green Left Weekly, Pilger, Chomsky, and Indymedia, I mean.

Posted by: Quentin George at January 29, 2004 at 07:22 PM

Arguing that the primary reason for invading Iraq is false does not equate to supporting Saddam.

Posted by: Joe at January 29, 2004 at 08:05 PM

The score so far: Mork -- 0, all other commenters -- 2459764.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 29, 2004 at 08:46 PM

Yeah Mork, everybody hates you.

And I refuse to acknowledge the Kay report.

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at January 29, 2004 at 09:11 PM


"As for niggling breaches of 1441, well, Iraq had NEVER been in full compliance with those resolutions, so the question is why that justified war last year, when it didn't before. The answer, according to the administration, was the magnitude of the threat."

I think a 'little incident' like 9/11 answers the why. Many Americans, myself included, finally believed what the fanatical Islamists had been saying: we're at war.

For the reasons many others have stated Pres. Bush and other leaders believed Saddam had WMDs. Preventing any of the fanatics from using these weapons was necessary, given what we'd seen these fanatics were willing to do.

Had our leaders not acted on what they believed, at the time, to be true, they would have failed at their #1 job: keep their people safe. I expect my president to act when he/she believes the US is in danger and I do NOT want my president to ask the 'permission' of anyone to do this.

We are at war with a bunch of people who want to either convert or destroy all of us. They have already demonstrated their willingness to kill thousands of people. I'm very glad that Bush, Blair, Howard, etc. had the balls to act because they believed very powerful weapons could fall into the hands of those who want us all dead or converted.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at January 29, 2004 at 11:58 PM

[Tony] Blair is an idiot who completely mishandled the case for war in Iraq. He also lied to the British people, saying that he had had no input into naming Dr Kelly, when he chaired a meeting which discussed the process. Blair has repeatedly lied to the British people, for instance saying in the 2001 manifesto that he would not raise tuition fees, and then tripling them, or saying that he wouldn't raise income tax, then raising it (that he calls the increase a rise in National Insurance Contributions is unimportant - a rose by any other name and all that). Reneging on manifesto commitments is justified if there is new information which make those made untenable, but that does not apply in either of those cases.

Bush and Blair should not have bothered at all with the United Nations, as they were determined to attack Saddam with or without UN approval, rightly in my view. The whole process of a rigged debate with a forgone conclusion has something uniquely disreputable about it, but those of us who work for the government in London are used to the way the man operates. It is much more dishonourable than either doing nothing or attacking Saddam without consulting the UN, and tactically, it allowed opposition in the UN, lead by France, time to build. Apparently, Bush's first instinct was to attack without going to the UN again. He was right.

So, Blair is a sleazy, incompetent liar, but has unfortunately got away with it because the Hutton report has distracted attention from the main question of his handling of the case for war.

Posted by: PJ at January 30, 2004 at 01:02 AM

Mork: You wrote in response to my post: " As for your sneering at Blix for not assuming the worst, well, who was right and who was wrong?"

That's a disingenuous comment if I ever saw one. Blix wasn't " right, " prior to hostilities, because he didn't state Iraq was free of WMD. Re-read the comments I posted from the report you cited. Months after Saddam was ousted, Blix gave several interviews where he NOW claimed he was of the opinion Iraq hadn't possessed WMD. He based his remarks on the fact that the Iraq Survey Group hadn't found any banned items. His rationale for explaining Saddam's behaviour, which made one and all believe he had WMD still, was coffee-shop level analysis at best, and full of holes. The point is, he made his comments with the benefit of hindsight, and they were comments he NEVER WOULD HAVE MADE AND DIDN"T MAKE PRIOR TO REGIME CHANGE.

I may be in a dwindling minority, but I believe it is still premature to conclude Saddam no longer possessed WMD at the time of regime change. The evidence is mounting that no stocks were left, but David Kay is emphatic that his team has found proof Iraq retained a significant WMD production expertise. I challenge you or anyone else to make an argument that this retention of expertise isn't as much a justification for regime change as would have been stockpiles of WMD already in place.

Now, for this comment you made: " Mike - you omit the description of how he was discussing with the Iraqi authorities a process of identifying and interviewing those involved in the destruction of the stockpiles in order to address the very problem you cite: that testing soil samples was incapable of either proving or disproving the destruction of the stockpiles."

Excuse me, are you claiming this is some kind of revolutionary investigative process brought on by Blix? UNSCOM had been fighting with the Iraqis for years over access to the scientists and others who allegedly participated in the destruction of WMD. UNSCOM had met with consistent and determined obstruction in this area. Even Blix was having much initial difficulty in this area. The reasons for this are obvious; Iraq had something to hide. You suggest that Blix was suddenly going to verify Iraq's claims of unilateral destruction of stocks as far back as 1991 (when most of it is alleged by the Iraqis to have occurred). I suggest this stretches credibility. Remember, part of this verification of destruction after the fact involves verifying that Iraq destroyed ALL OF ITS BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS in 1991, when it told the U.N. in 1991 it didn't have any, and was able to maintain the lie for 4 years. My question to you is, how likely is it that Iraq destroyed its bioweapons in 1991, when it was intent on keeping them? There would be no logic in the Iraqis lying about even having a bioweapons program, then at the same time, back in 1991, destroying them. If Iraq really did destroy them in 1991, why not admit to the U.N. they had them?

What this entire argument comes down to is, some on the anti-regime change side have suggested that by 2003, there was nothing Saddam could have done to prove he had disarmed. I agree, but do not see this as a criticism of U.S. policy. The fault lies solely with Saddam. No one should have believed him in 2003, because there was no reason to believe him in 1999, no reason to believe him in 1995, no reason to believe him in 1991, for all the reasons I've cited in this thread.

Mork, rational people accept the premise that lies on any issue dramatically affect the credibility of the person telling the lies, especially concerning the issue in question. I go back to some of my earlier comments; the depth and breadth of the lies told by Saddam's regime on the issue of its WMD program essentially disqualified it from being believed on the issue. There simply was no means for Blix to deliver on his ludicrous promise that, given more time, he could have completely disarmed Iraq, or alternatively proven Iraq had unilaterally disarmed. Iraq had lied too often, and too well, about the very existence of WMD programs, for a full accounting to have been possible by 2003. Blix is the same man who was completely hoodwinked by Iraq as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency after the first Gulf War. The IAEA had declared their belief Iraq was truthful in claiming it had no nuclear weapons program. The IAEA wound up with egg on its face, when post Gulf War investigation revealed Iraq to be approximately 2 years, possibly less, away from obtaining a nuclear weapon. To Blix's credit, when he stepped down from the IAEA in 1996, he gave an interview where he acknowledged the current IAEA inspection process had in large part been developed as a result of " lessons learned " from Iraq's near complete deception of the IAEA.

In closing, its time you acknowledge the truthfulness of a statement that has been made by many, in the lead-up to war and after. That is, the United States had finally decided to enforce the U.N. resolutions (plural!) demanding Iraq prove disarmament, because the U.N. had no intention of enforcing its own resolutions. By 2003, the ONLY MEANS of enforcing these resolutions was regime change. This wasn't the case in the early 1990's, when a fully cooperative Saddam could have proven complete disarmament, as did a fully compliant South Africa and Ukraine when they gave up their nuclear weapons. Im tired of hearing individuals defend the real liar in this affair, Saddam, by smearing Bush,the man who finally called Saddam on his lies.

Posted by: Mike at January 30, 2004 at 01:04 AM

Gavyn Davies' wife works for Gordon Brown, so he'll still be in the loop (interestingly, she is family to a former aide to Iain Duncan Smith, until he sacked him). But Greg Dyke is out in the cold. Anyone else notice the staff protests about him going? It was either some sort of North Korea-style mass choreographed outpouring of faux grief, or fantastic proof that root and branch change to BBC newsroom culture is essential.

Posted by: Alex at February 1, 2004 at 12:32 PM