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Comment at end
8th December, 2009
THE JONES BOY DIDN’T HANG BLAIR OUT TO DRY AS EXPECTED, EH?
I assume, but then again I may be wrong in this assumption, that this contribution at Chris Ames’ Iraq Inquiry Digest by Brian Jones was expected to cast further doubts on Blair in Iraq and the motives of Blair in Iraq. Death by a thousand newspaper and online cuts, as it were.
If so, the knife seems to have missed its target.
I read through its well-written 37 pages here and found little of the judgemental opining that one gets from some others at Chris Ames’ site, and particularly from his commenters.
Ahhh, it was ever thus, I hear you say, and you’re right! The Guardian, The Independent and at times even The Mail can sound like Mother Teresa’s newsletter to the faithful in comparison to many of their bile-risen commenters.
Here below are some of Mr Jones’s actual unedited words, just as I posted them at Ames’s site in response to a Mr Tony Simpson whose comment seemed to me to betray the moving the goalposts tactic of many of Mr Blair’s opponents:
To Tony Simpson,
(Apologies for copying and pasting, Mr Ames and Mr Jones. My concern for accuracy, you understand.)
We select from the ‘evidence’ what suits our case, do we not, Mr Simpson? Let’s be blunt about this, for goodness sake!
For me I found these five numbered snippets from Brian Jones’s report interesting:
The intricacies of this situation would quite possibly never have been clearly visible to Secretaries of State, Prime Ministers and Presidents, so their perceptions of the real situation in Iraq may have been distorted to the point where they believed there was good evidence that Iraq retained chemical and/or biological weapons. The pressures created by 9/11 may have further confused perceptions.
At some stage I became aware that a direct relationship had developed between David Kelly and officers of the SIS, so I ceased to be aware of the full scope of his visibility of intelligence or his involvement with it.
During the course of 18 September 2002 I spoke briefly with David Kelly when I encountered him working in the office of my BW staff. I understood him to be reviewing the latest available version of the dossier. The nature of our conversation that day was, as usual, casual and informal. In the course of it I asked him what he thought of the latest version of the dossier and was surprised, in view of the concerns expressed by my staff to which I have referred, when he responded that he though [sic] it was good.
Although I met David Kelly a few times after the dossier was published before I retired and he was aware that I had raised my concerns about the dossier up to DCDI, at no time did he indicate to me that he personally shared any reservations about the dossier. The impression I gained is that he thought it was broadly in line with the views he held on Iraq, and that its publication might help to resolve the existing stand-off. I have a recollection that in one conversation after the UNMOVIC inspections of Iraq had commenced he observed that the threat of military action had at least produced this positive result.
It is important to stress that Dr Jones is full of praise for the way Tony Blair has seized on the issue of nuclear, chemical and biological proliferation. “I think he is one of the very few world leaders who has really grasped this issue,” Dr Jones said. “He uses a broad brush in using the term WMD but I really do think it is probably, as he says, the security concern of at least this part of the 21st century.”
He is also wary of the dangers posed by inquiries such as that led by Lord Butler. “There is an enormous potential for this inquiry over the period for which it is operating to absolute cripple the ability to analyse intelligence on WMD during what seems like a very critical period,” he said. “These guys are going to be pressed enormously to come up
with the information that the inquiry needs. The only guys who can do it are the guys at the sharp end, pursuing these very important issues on Libya, on Iran and North Korea.”
Dr Jones, who will be called by the Butler inquiry, said he wanted to make it “absolutely clear” that he made no comment about whether it was right to go to war. But the case based on WMD was flawed and misleading. “There were problems with the case that was made in terms of WMD, but I don’t think it is reasonable to say simply that that made it wrong. Like everyone else, I have broader opinions on politics and things that I don’t know about. But I do know about WMD.”
Intelligence also indicates that Iraq is preparing plans to conceal evidence of these weapons, including incriminating documents, from renewed inspections. And it suggests that despite sanctions and the policy of containment, Saddam has continued to keep his ballistic missile programme alive and that some activity has been beyond that which is legal. He has at least preserved the basis for reactivating his offensive nuclear, biological and chemical warfare programmes.
So there we are, Mr Simpson. One takes a position from evidence available and builds a case round it.
FT, Philip Stephens article.
And note this twisting of Mr Stephens’ meaning at The Iraq Inquiry Digest. Another ‘moving the goalpost’ moments if ever I saw one.
Two in one day? Hmmm … worrying.