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Sexed up: the vindication of Andrew Gilligan


3:04 pm - December 8th 2009

by Dave Osler    


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Now that the Chilcot Inquiry is in full swing, cast your mind back to the Hutton Inquiry into the suicide of Dr David Kelly in 2003. Remember that day six years ago, when BBC Radio 4’s defence correspondent was subjected to a four hours and eleven minutes of hostile interrogation from James Dingemans QC?

Andrew Gilligan’s crime had been to base a radio piece for the Today Programme on an interview with Kelly at a London hotel in May that year, in which the former UN weapons inspector questioned a key assertion contained in a government dossier in support of its intention to invade Iraq.

Downing Street stood accused of ‘sexing up’ the document with the contention that Saddam Hussein could launch a chemical and biological attack within 45 minutes, despite knowing that the claim was based on an unreliable single informant. In a subsequent newspaper article, Gilligan named Tony Blair’s personal PR man Alastair Campbell as the man responsible for the move.

New Labour hounded the BBC to name the source for Gilligan’s report; the BBC rightly refused. In the event, Kelly revealed to his employers that he had spoken to Gilligan. Events moved on rapidly after that.

At around this time, Campbell wrote in his diary: ‘It would fuck Gilligan if that was his source.’ And Campbell made sure his quarry was well and truly fucked, ensuring the Ministry of Defence press office all but leaked Kelly’s name to the media.

Gilligan – a man who is admittedly a bit of a maverick, even by the standards of the trade – found himself pilloried by Dingemans as a sloppy journalist. At issue became not the government’s reliance on single sources, but his.

Editors in newsrooms across the country held him up as a by-word for lack of professionalism when bollocking junior reporters for not double-checking facts. After a decent-ish interval, Gilligan got the sack from the BBC. He has worked since, but has not enjoyed the prominence his talents undoubtedly deserve.

And Kelly? On July 17, Kelly told his wife he was going out for a walk in an area of woodlands near his home known as Harrowdown Hill, where he swallowed 29 co-proxamol tabled and then slit his left wrist. There you go, Mr Campbell; human beings don’t get anymore fucked than that, do they?

Fast forward to 2009, and Britain is holding yet another inquiry – at least the fifth, on my count – into how it is we find ourselves till trapped in Iraq. Yesterday it was the turn of Tory MP and defence specialist Adam Holloway to testify. MI6, it transpires, learned of Saddam’s 45-minute capability from – get this – a taxi driver who had two Iraqi military officials in the back of his cab once. Or to more exact, the intelligence came from a bloke who heard it from a taxi driver who had overhead two other blokes some time ago.

‘[MI6] were running a senior Iraqi army officer who had a source of his own, a cab driver on the Iraqi-Jordanian border,” said Holloway, a former Grenadier Guardsman and television journalist. “He apparently overheard two Iraqi army officers two years before who had spoken about weapons with the range to hit targets elsewhere in the Middle East.’

In other words, Kelly was right all along. What’s more, it’s not even as if the mouthy cabbie’s info has since been verified. An apology from Campbell to Gilligan is probably too much to ask for. An apology from Campbell to Kelly would be too bloody late.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


Dave:

It’s the Chilcott Inquiry – the Butler review relates to the Falklands War.

No, hang on, the Butler review was Iraq but published in 2004 and followed the model of the Franks Inquiry, which was into the Falklands War

As I remember, Gilligan wasn’t sacked for being wrong about the ‘sexed up’ dossier. He was sacked for retrospecitvely changing his notes.

It’s a while since I read Campbell’s diary, but I thought the reason he thought it would “fuck” Gilligan – and let’s be clear, it was Gilligan he wanted to fuck over, not Kelly; the implication that Kelly’s death was an extension of Campbell’s desires is pretty extreme – was because Kelly was not a credible source who could not have had first-hand information pertaining to the allegations about sexing up the dossier.

Gilligan is a partisan hack; he has enjoyed more prominence than his talents deserve. How much Gilligan was to blame for the circumstances leading to Kelly’s death, and how much Campbell was (or if both can be vindicated) will not be known for years, if ever.

Yeah, what Tim says.

God knows there’s much to loathe about the govt handling of the case for war, but the rehabilitation of Gilligan really shouldn’t be on the agenda.

This is nonsense. Campbell is slime, and Kelly was a decent human being- but Gilligan was actually pretty keen on dropping Kelly in the muck too. After Gilligan had been grilled by the Select Committee, he emailed one of the members telling him (in a transparently obvious hint) that Kelly was the source for his story.

Gilligan knew that the source in question was a man with a very high level of security clearance whose employment would effectively end the minute he was identified as a mole. Gilligan knew that Kelly would face investigation and possibly prosecution if his leaking became known. Gilligan knew that Kelly was an honest man who had done his best to prevent weapons proliferation and was against the Government’s lies. And he still shopped Kelly to the Select Committee for no other reason than to take the heat off himself.

Journalists don’t get someone to give them confidential information and then rat out on their identities. Yes, maybe there’s a hypothetical case of turning someone in if it turns out they’ve committed crimes, but this was the exact opposite of such a case.

There are plenty of real victims of the Iraq war- including David Kelly. I don’t think I’ll be weeping for a journo who stabbed his source in the back and was punished for it with highly-paid work at the Spectator, Standard and Telegraph.

Unity

Duh me. Thanks for picking the slip up.

I don’t want to re-write history here – mainly because I don’t want to come across as thinking the dodgy dossier was all fine and dandy and the case for war was sound. It wasn’t.

But this article is a lot of rubbish.

Gilligan was found to have doctored his notes to help him get away with the “errors” (lies) he has reported about Dr Kelly’s views.

He was also found not to have had any original notes at all to back up his report.

He reported hs own assertions as quotes from Dr Kelly – and we should not pretend his principled “I won’t reveal my source” stance was not motivated by a fear of getting caught when Dr Kelly innevitably pointed out that he’s never said most of what was reported.

The BBC was so enthralled to the Iraq story at the time it completely failed to scrutinise it’s anti-iraq reporters properly – and so there was nothing to hold back Gilligan’s exuberance when making up lies about it all.

For example – the BBC should probably have asked for his notes when he suggested that the intelligence experts were against inclusion of the 45 minute claim but were over-ruled by the Government. After all, the truth turned out to be that one argued against it’s inclusion.

And as for Campbell’s role. The report included that Alistair Campbell had inserted the 45 minute claim personally – which was not true – and which fitted well with the wider Tory supporting press to taint Campbell so he’s have to quit his role and so weaken Tony Blair’s formidable press team.

So of all the people Campbell (ahem) hurt over the years – Gilliagan was unambiguously the most deserving. The odious and incompetent hack that he is.

8. Alisdair Cameron

More proof if any were needed of just how f-cking despicable Campbell is. That he’s still welcome in Brown’s inner circle is a massive stain on the labour party.Gilligan is a twat, but Campbell is worse.

There are plenty of real victims of the Iraq war- including David Kelly. I don’t think I’ll be weeping for a journo who stabbed his source in the back and was punished for it with highly-paid work at the Spectator, Standard and Telegraph.

Don’t forget Press TV!

Agree with Tim F (is he the hard line right wingnut Tim? I know there’s two of them and I always get confused).

Not a huge fan of Campbell but Gilligan was an unprofessional hack who deserved the criticism he got from AC.

#10

No, he’s not, and is horrified by the idea people are confusing us ;p

There are more than two Tims. Of the three that comment fairly regularly, there’s the libertarianish UKIP one (who I think you’re referring to), the moderate Conservative one, and me. Probably all of us have fairly maverick politics in different ways.

Is the author related to Gilligan in some way? I’ve never read such rubbish.

The obsession with Campbell that so many reporters had is simply an extension of their own amour-propre. They wanted desperately to believe that the press secretary was the most important person in Downing St. because that would mean that they must be important too. It wasn’t enough for Gilligan to write that the intel was oversold (in itself an entirely legitimate story), he needed to write that the object of his obsession was in some way responsible. It seems pretty unlikely that a government scientist would have any information on the workings of the press office, but that didn’t stop Gilligan from, in that well-worn phrase, “sexing up” his notes to pretend otherwise. The unfortunate Dr. Kelly faced not only being dropped in it as Gilligan’s contact, but having to deny what was almost certainly a fictitious account of his dealings with him.

“He has worked since, but has not enjoyed the prominence his talents undoubtedly deserve.”

I suspect we may differ as to precisely what this wretched individual deserves.

10 – there’s Tim Worstall, who’s a ‘classical liberal’ and there’s me. But I’m a fairly unexceptional Tory, and would only classify as ‘hard line right wingnut’ if you squint really really hard.

#13

Actually, I think you’re being unfair on yourself. I think you’re generally much fairer than the average Conservative (certainly if Tories in the areas I’ve lived in are typical). “Unexceptional Tory” would definitely be an insult in most people’s books.

14 – thank you. How depressing… But then I cling to the belief that people in comment threads are not representative and in general (present company excepted obviously) much ruder and less reasonable than people in general. Whether they are in fact the same people behaving in different ways is another question.

Tim J is not a ‘hard line wingnut’ anything. He’s an intelligent and well-read man with centre-right views who raises some very sharp points.

If you really can’t bear to chat to people whose ideas are different to your own, I don’t think any of us will miss much if you just talk to yourself.

“On July 17, Kelly told his wife he was going out for a walk in an area of woodlands near his home known as Harrowdown Hill, where he swallowed 29 co-proxamol tabled and then slit his left wrist.”

Come off it, Dave, there’s no way that it was Kelly that slit his own wrist. His fingerprints weren’t even on the knife. He supposedly died from loss of blood, but there was very little blood at the scene of his death. After he died, he rose up and moved his own body to a different position, propped up against a tree. And so on, and so forth. Norman Baker MP has a whole book on it.

There has never been an inquest into Kelly’s death – the only time in several hundred years when a single unexplained death has not been the subject of one. The independent Oxford coroner was frightened off reopening his adjourned inquest. Now Straw has introduced new law to suspend the right to an independent inquest under an independent coroner where ‘national security’ is at stake. The Guardian was baffled as to why. Maybe it’s to spike the legal effort to have the Kelly inquest reopened.

Your piece notes that Gilligan was aggressively cross-examined by Hutton’s silk Dingemans for over four hours. The same two guys didn’t even call various witnesses to the scene of Kelly’s death to testify before the inquiry at all.

Hutton was a completely blatant exercise to ensure that questions about Kelly’s death were not properly asked. The whole furore over Gilligan/Campbell etc was always just a giant distraction to get the media circus to look in the wrong place.

18. Shatterface

Gilligan was an unprofessional hack who accidentally stumbled on an important story which was largely correct but failed to keep adequate notes and to protect his sources.

The more important a story is the more important it is to behave professionally. The fact that Gilligan fucked up so badly means the story itself was tainted.

I’ve been following the Iraq invasion issue since early 2002 when Blair went off to see Bush, and for me the “Kelly and Gilligan” story is just a minor sub-plot. However it is like the “45 minutes” issue: it has the makings of a story in the media sense of the word, and so gets referred to by the media and tends to be given more importance that it deserves.

On the day following Gilligan’s broadcast, John Reid was inteviewed on “Today”. At the time the Government was insisting that it “knew” that Iraq had WMD, so Reid was asked why the Government was saying that it “knew” this. Reid replied that the UK Government had known about Iraq’s WMD for 15 years. Reid was, of course, not answering the question; he is pretending that the contentious issue (what happened between 1991 and 2002) does not exist; he is simply repeating his original assertion in a slightly different form. This kind of thing happened hundreds of times and from this you could form a picture of a Government trying to make a case without the evidence to back it up. Other journalists, such as Chris Ames, then did a lot of careful and slow work that showed that the original dossier involved a lot of spin-doctors and was not just the work of the JIC. Other journalists teased out important documents and tracked down some of the sources of information. This is much more important than Gilligan’s story and has been much more important in destroying the assertions of Tony Blair about his certainty that Iraq had WMD.

What Strategist said @ 17. With knobs on. Totally nailed it. Mind, I have no time for Gilligan, note-faking, sock-puppeting twit.

And of course, Labour did this:

Now Straw has introduced new law to suspend the right to an independent inquest under an independent coroner where ‘national security’ is at stake which is oh so typical of the overbearing authoritarian nature of this beast.

I held my nose and voted Labour in 2005 for the third time (’97 was my first legal vote); I feel betrayed by these people on so many levels – they are quite frankly scum.

“Andrew Gilligan’s crime”

…was not standing a (correct) story up. Since then he’s spent his time not standing up several incorrect stories, writing for Policy Exchange, the Spectator, the hysterical Evening Standard and now the Telegraph and behaving like a dick to myself and others for the daring crime of questioning such a Great Journalist as himself on his ‘facts’ (check the hilarious revert war on his Wikipedia page over whether Dave Hill of the Guardian qualified as a ‘journalist’ in which ‘someone’ with Gilligan’s interests at heart accuses an anonymous editor of being either me or Labour’s Val Shawcross).

Basically, I’ve no sympathy for the bastard for once stumbling across a correct story; if he’d done his job properly in the first place Blair and Campbell mightn’t have got away with murder. It’s not entirely Gilligan’s fault, though, it’s the idiots at the BBC who didn’t appoint a proper journalist instead of a tabloid hack. There’s no substitute for quality.

“a sloppy journalist”

To put it mildly. It’s quite gratifying to see so few people willing to stand up for him now, that’s what high-handed obstinacy and unpleasantness get you.

Appraisal here of Andrew Gilligan’s performance as a journalist appears to be based on some aspects of the Kelly affair and his subsequent career. The consensus seems to be that everything he did from May 2003 is awful. I disagree.

As Dave Osler noted, Gilligan is a quirky, contrary journalist which is why he got his BBC job in the first place. His early work at the BBC displays an ability to identify sources and to persuade them to talk. My own hypothesis is that he misunderstood David Kelly and Kelly’s intentions; Kelly was a scientist who expected his words to be taken literally, but Gilligan took their conversations as a lobby briefing and filled in missing words. That was a tragic mistake and his subsequent conduct was bizarre (bumbled attempt to add notes to his Palm PDA?) and unprofessional. All the same, I have more contempt for the government’s professional bullying of David Kelly than for Gilligan’s human failings.

When subsequently working for the Standard, Gilligan acted like a professional and exposed alleged financial abuse at the London Mayoral office (no prosecution to date?). “Solid” stories with more than one source and no libel cases. Like it or not, that is what good journalists do. Was he supposed to turn a blind eye to the stories because they put Livingstone in an uncomfortable position?

Should Gilligan be ashamed for working for Press TV? I wouldn’t be comfortable working for them in my tech role, but if Gilligan reckons that he can do an honest job, it’s up to him. And when did writing for the Telegraph and Spectator become a moral offence? It’s what people write that counts, not the publication.

@22
If Kelly’s demise was hastened by Gilligan’s largesse with the truth as a journalist, it seems difficult to push the case for sympathy on G’s part.

Should Gilligan be ashamed for working for Press TV? I wouldn’t be comfortable working for them in my tech role

Press TV are partly funded by a murdering torturing inhumane regime. They drone out anti-semitic filth and anti-western bile. I’d rather cut my own balls of than work for those people.

@19: Guano: “for me the ‘Kelly and Gilligan’ story is just a minor sub-plot”

Absolutely. Dr Brian Jones quietly blew up the credibility of Blair’s signed claims in the government’s dossier on Iraq’s WMD, published at a special session of Parliament on 24 September 2002.

In the Ministry of Defence, a branch of the Defence Intelligence Service was tasked to monitor and assess incoming intelligence on WMD. At the time of the Iraq invasion, Dr Brian Jones was head of this branch. A report in The London Times on 4 February 2004 relates to the doubts he had about the claims made in the government’s dossier:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1011171.ece

This letter of 8 July 2003 from Dr Jones to the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence was sumitted to the Hutton inquiry:
http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/mod/mod_4_0011.pdf

The letter includes this passage:

“Your records will show that as [blanked out] and probably the most senior and experienced intelligence community official working on ‘WMD,’ I was so concerned about the manner in which intelligence assessment for which I had some responsibility were being presented in the dossier of 24 September 2002, that I was moved to write formally to your predecessor, Tony Crag, recording and explaining my reservations.”

In the discrete language of the civil service, Dr Jones disowned responsibility for the claims made in the government’s dossier.

From this leaked secret memo of 23 July 2002, Blair already knew at the special session of Parliament that the claims being made about Iraq’s WMD were based on “fixed” evidence:

“C [that’s the head of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article387374.ece

From the G8 summit in June 2003, it was reported that:

“Tony Blair has rejected calls for an official inquiry into the government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood ‘100%’ by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.

“‘Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false,’ he said.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2955036.stm

Blair knew he was lying. At best, he knew that any evidence supporting the claims made about Iraq’s WMD was flimsy.

Bob B is quite right – we knew Blair lied and the Iraq WMD evidence was sexed up far beyond reasoning without Gilligan sticking his oar in, all that achieved was to give Blair a lifeline to spin some hide-saving PR off. Nice one, Andy.

“It’s what people write that counts, not the publication.”

I’m not sure that lets him off in the slightest, speaking as the target of one of his obsessions:

http://yorksranter.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/bendy-jihad-the-gilligan-papers/

When subsequently working for the Standard, Gilligan acted like a professional and exposed alleged financial abuse at the London Mayoral office (no prosecution to date?).

Clue: if you “exposed alleged financial abuse” and it turns out there wasn’t any, that means you’re a prat, not a professional.

It has been observed and documented: Blair has a constitutional personality disorder with an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

He feels impelled to tell an audience what he thinks they would like to hear or what will conjur up the image he currently wants to invoke regardless of whether it is substantively valid or not or consistent with what he has said before. This is the historic evidence:

“The first sound of bats flapping in his belfry was heard even before the election, in December 1996, when he told Des O’Connor that as a 14-year-old he had run away to Newcastle airport and boarded a plane for the Bahamas: ‘I snuck onto the plane, and we were literally about to take off when the stewardess came up to me…’ Quite how he managed this without a boarding card or passport was not explained. It certainly came as a surprise to his father (‘The Bahamas? Who said that? Tony? Never’), and an even greater surprise to staff at the airport, who pointed out that there has never been a flight from Newcastle to the Bahamas.

“A couple of years later, he told an interviewer that his ‘teenage hero’ was the footballer Jackie Milburn, whom he would watch from the seats behind the goal at St James’s Park. In fact, Milburn played his last game for Newcastle United when Blair was just four years old, and there were no seats behind the goal at the time.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,230340,00.html

“The Prime Minister was at it again last week [in November 1999] when he told listeners of the rock station Heart FM that his favourite tune was ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ by U2; when he appeared on ‘Desert Island Discs’, it was Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ and Francisco Tarrega’s ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo991117/debtext/91117-02.htm

John B: “Clue: if you “exposed alleged financial abuse” and it turns out there wasn’t any, that means you’re a prat, not a professional.”

John, I note that you are not a fool and merely request that you think. Just question things a bit more. Even when things get sticky.

“he told listeners of the rock station Heart FM that his favourite tune was ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ by U2; when he appeared on ‘Desert Island Discs’, it was Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’ and Francisco Tarrega’s ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’.”

Well plainly the man’s a monster.

Alastair Campbell’s attacks on Gilligan and the BBC were just a huge smoke screen to divert attention from what we now know to be true: the Iraq war – illegal in international law – was just a plot, hatched up between Bush and Blair in 2002, to engineer regime change in Iraq for which the Bush administration had been planning since coming into office in January 2001, months before 9/11 that year. This is the evidence from US media:

“CRAWFORD, Texas — Paul O’Neill, President Bush’s Treasury secretary in the first two years of his presidency, says the Bush administration was planning to invade Iraq long before the Sept. 11 attacks and used questionable intelligence to justify the war.”
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-01-11-oneill-iraq_x.htm

“(CNN) — The Bush administration began planning to use U.S. troops to invade Iraq within days after the former Texas governor entered the White House three years ago, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill told CBS News’ 60 Minutes. . . ”
http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/01/10/oneill.bush/

In high level meetings of the Bush administration, following 9-11, Rumsfeld made it clear that he wanted to bomb Iraq in response:

“WASHINGTON — The White House’s former top anti-terrorism adviser says President Bush ignored warnings about al-Qaeda and ordered him to find a link between the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Iraq. . .

“Clarke also wrote that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared never to have heard of al-Qaeda until she was warned early in 2001 about the terrorist organization and that she ‘looked skeptical’ about his warnings. . .

“As early as Sept. 12, 2001, Clarke says, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged bombing Iraq despite repeated assurances from intelligence officials that the threat emanated from Afghanistan.

“‘Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq,’ Clarke said on Sunday’s 60 Minutes. I said, ‘Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.'”
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-03-20-clarke_x.htm

31. David Boothroyd

Dave, I think you’re wrong on all of this. Just to take some points, the reason why Alistair Campbell wrote that Andrew Gilligan’s story would have its credibility damaged if it turned out that Dr David Kelly was the source, was that Dr Kelly had no routine access to intelligence. Had it been true that Ministers had been told that the ’45 minute claim’ was dubious (which it wasn’t), Dr Kelly would not have known. Dr Kelly might have speculated that Alistair Campbell was involved but a good journalist ought to have recognized that that was just his speculation.

The key point in Andrew Gilligan’s story was that ‘the Government’ had been told. It has been quite clear since the Hutton Inquiry and never subsequently challenged that the only discussions about the believability of this intelligence before publication of the Government assessment in September 2002 were privately between the head of the Defence Intelligence Staff and the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee. It never reached the actual JIC and certainly never reached Ministers or Special Advisers.

Had Gilligan reported that the 45 minute claim was included in the dossier owing to one group of civil servants, although another group of civil servants thought it was questionable, this would have been right. But it would have been less interesting and would not have included Alistair Campbell.

In practice there were two kinds of “sexing up” of the dossier:

– the inclusion of new evidence from the last minute trawl, such as “45 minutes to doom”
– the drawing of the conclusion that it was an established fact that Iraq had WMD.

The latter proved to be much more significant, as it was then used by the Government to claim in March 2003 that the weapons’ inspectors were wrong. Oddly enough Jack Straw a few days ago still seemed to be claiming that it was an established fact that Iraq had WMD in 2002 so it is a complete mystery why they haven;t been found 6 plus years later. Yesterday Scarlett seemed to be distancing himself from the conclusion that it was an established fact that Iraq had WMD, and seemed to be suggesting that that part of the dossier was the PM’s sole responsibility. That is the issue to watch.

See the Butler Report (paras 573-578) on the handling of intelligence relating to Iraq’s WMD and the 45-minute claim – which is made no less than four times in the government’s dossier on Iraq’s WMD published at that special session of Parliament on 24 September 2002, presumably for greater effect.
http://www.archive2.official-documents.co.uk/document/deps/hc/hc898/898.pdf

Note in particular this passage in para 578 of The Butler Report:

“[David Manning] briefed [on 12 September] the Prime Minister on each of SIS’s [SIS = MI6] main sources including the new source on trial. He told us that he had underlined to the Prime Minister the potential importance of the new source and what SIS understood his access to be; but also said that the case was developmental and that the source remained unproven. Nevertheless, it may be that, in the context of the intense interest at that moment in the status of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programmes, and in particular continuing work on the dossier, this concurrence of events caused more weight to be given to this unvalidated new source than would normally have been the case.”

According to the (secret) Manning Memo to Blair of 14 March 2002, the objective of the Iraq invasion all along was regime change – which is illegal under international law without UN sanction:
http://downingstreetmemo.com/manningtext.html

There are good reasons why “liberal interventionism” to engineer regime change without UN sanction should continue to be illegal in international law. The Nazi German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 was supposedly to protect the civil rights of German-speaking citizens resident in Poland. The deployment of Soviet tanks in East Germany in 1953 was to defend “socialism” and that was also the claimed justification for the invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czecho-Slovakia in 1968. Blair himself made the point in a keynote speech in Chicago in April 1999:

“If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar.”

“There are good reasons why “liberal interventionism” to engineer regime change without UN sanction should continue to be illegal in international law.”

Notably that it beggars belief that anyone who believes that a war entered into in good faith that happens to kill a six-figure sum of civilians is morally superior to a war entered into in bad faith that happens to kill a six-figure sum of civiians. That’s the essential moral distortion inherent to ‘liberal interventionism’.


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