Melanie Phillips on John Rentoul’s “excellent Iraq Inquiry Rebuttal” blog

by

The Iraqi government’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, says he supports Blair on removing Saddam (video clip of Blair interview.)

Comment at end

14th December, 2009

Watch Tony Blair interview here

MELANIE PHILLIPS – ANOTHER HONEST JOURNALIST

See! I told you there were (a few) others!

Melanie Phillips has admitted that she “only just caught up with John Rentoul’s excellent ‘Iraq inquiry rebuttal’ blog.” So she probably has not yet caught up with the bloggers who share Mr Rentoul’s approach.  Although more or less taken for granted the sprog bloggers – aka good children who listen to what they are told –  are not ALL fully paid-up members of the ‘Hang Tony Blair’ brigade. (Links at the end of this post to more generous bloggers, whose time online is largely taken up with rebutting the mainstream media too.)

We are awaiting with bated breath Ms Phillips signature at the Ban Blair-Baiting petition. Just to reassure all of you, this is not MY petition, nor is it John Rentoul’s. Yes, there are more of us in support of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (so help us The Press).

Ms Phillips’ blog is one to which I subscribe. She often echoes my thoughts on the Islamisation of Britain and Europe – (for a start) – and on one or two other issues. But I have not noticed that she was a great fan of Mr Blair’s except when his agenda coincides with hers, often over Israel’s rights.

So it was with raised interest that I noticed her article today. I commented there thus – with a gentle challenge to Melanie. Let’s see if she REALLY sees the bigger picture.

Melanie Phillips on the Iraq Inquiry – article follows:

Verdict first, evidence nowhere

I have only just caught up with John Rentoul’s excellent ‘Iraq inquiry rebuttal’ blog, which I recommend as essential reading to help combat the hallucinatory distortions now taking place almost every day in the media reporting of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war. For me, it’s a case of déjà vu all over again. During the Hutton inquiry into the death of the WMD expert Dr David Kelly, I read, watched and listened in disbelief as the coverage of that inquiry systematically wrenched and distorted the evidence to fit the prior conclusion by the media that ‘Blair lied and people, including Dr Kelly, died as a result’.

The actual evidence didn’t lay a glove on Blair who was therefore always likely to be exonerated, as I observed in an article for the Spectator before its conclusions were published. People reacted to this article with astonishment. How ridiculous to say this, they scoffed, when the evidence had been conclusive that Blair was guilty as charged. Hutton was a wise, robust and independent- minded character who, on the basis of the media reports of the evidence, would undoubtedly find against Blair who would most likely be forced out of office as a result. When Hutton finally reported and all but totally exonerated Blair, this formerly wise, robust and independent-minded paragon was immediately denounced as an establishment stooge who had flown in the face of the evidence.

Now the same thing is happening again. Having forced the establishment of this inquiry, the anti-war mob are spitting tacks that it has not in fact been set up to find Blair guilty of ‘war crimes’ in Iraq or the crime of ‘talking us to war on a lie’. They have complained that it is not objective because two of its members had supported the war (and even, in one disgusting article, because they were Jews); it goes without saying, of course, that if these members had opposed the war they would be hailed as wise, robust and independent-minded. As far as the anti-war brigade from both left and right are concerned, it’s a case of verdict first, evidence nowhere.

And in the media coverage of the Chilcot inquiry, the evidence – much of it itself from bitterly hostile and anti-war diplomats  — is in turn accordingly being cherry-picked, distorted and misrepresented to an astounding degree to produce the running narrative libel that Blair led Britain into an illegal war on a lie. As I said, the Rentoul blog has a running commentary on a number of these distortions. But the ones I personally have been picking up on include these:

  • The inquiry heard evidence that, because of the desire by the Bush administration to get rid of Saddam, Bush’s ‘poodle’ Blair committed himself to regime change in Iraq even though, in spring 2002, he knew it was illegal; he therefore led the UK into an illegal war.

Misleading and wrong. America had committed itself to regime change in Iraq in 1998 under President Clinton because Saddam was seen as such a threat to the west. Blair agreed with Clinton’s assessment and came to power therefore believing that Saddam was a threat who needed to be removed.

The legality of the eventual war in Iraq rested however on a series of UN resolutions, the last of which — Resolution 1441 which reactivated the earlier ones – was not passed until November 2002. So the fact that regime change may have been deemed ‘illegal’ in the spring of 2002 is totally irrelevant. Indeed, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s former ambassador to the UN, told the inquiry that the war was legal – evidence downplayed by the media in favour of his remark that it was nevertheless not ‘legitimate’ because it did not enjoy the support of the public (itself a deeply arguable ex post facto point). The war was legal when it was waged in 2003. No witness to Chilcot has said that war in 2003 was illegal. That impression has been given solely by the malevolent media coverage. And if people are so exercised that the Iraq war was ‘illegal’, why aren’t there calls for an inquiry into the ‘illegal’ war in Kosovo which was undertaken with no basis in any UN resolutions at all?

As for Blair apparently supporting war/regime change before Resolution 1441 was passed, the implied suggestion that it should have been the other way round is ludicrous. There would have been no need for Resolution 1441 unless war was being proposed; the reason it was proposed was because of the perceived threat from Saddam and the exhaustion of 12 years of fruitless attempts to defang Saddam through negotiation.

  • The inquiry heard evidence that Blair and Bush cooked up war in Iraq at a meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas in April 2002.

Wrong. The inquiry was told that the British government’s view that it could not support regime change in Iraq had reversed by March 2002 – a month before the Crawford meeting – because 9/11 had changed everything. The UK could no longer oppose regime change because 9/11 had changed the calibration of the risk posed by a rogue Islamic state possessing WMD. As Sir Christopher Meyer told the Chilcot inquiry, by March 2002 the British government had independently of the US decided

that containment and sharper sanctions had run its course. It simply wasn’t practical to pursue this at the UN… It was a fact that 9/11 had happened and it was a complete waste of time, therefore, in those circumstances, if we were going to be able to  work with the Americans, to come to them and say any longer — and bang away about regime change and say, “We  can’t support it”, and the way I think the attempt was  made to square the circle of supporting something to which the Foreign Office, and maybe other lawyers objected, was actually so to wrap it, so to contextualise it, that regime change, if and when it happened, would be with the benefit of the support of the international community in the framework of UN action, quite possibly through a Security Council  Resolution.

In other words, 9/11 had caused the British government to abandon its opposition to regime change in Iraq. It was now on side with the Americans. The only reason it wanted to gain the endorsement of the UN was to defuse the hostility from the ‘Foreign Office and other lawyers’ — ie, a tactical move to counter the voices of appeasement from within, whose interpretation of international law was always inseparable from a deeply questionable ideological stance and whose poisoned antagonism has been dripped into the ears of journalists throughout this entire period — and which has now been exposed for all with eyes to see at the Chilcot inquiry.

  • The inquiry heard evidence that Blair knew before the war that Saddam didn’t have WMD any more/couldn’t use them and therefore there was no case for war.

Wrong. And wrong again. The evidence did not say Saddam was shown not to have had WMD any more or couldn’t use them. What was said was that on the eve of war, intelligence revealed that some of Saddam’s chemical weapons had been dismantled and therefore could not be used instantaneously. But as was also said, that was irrelevant to the case for war; the crucial fact was that he still had the stuff, a fact which he had denied and which was in breach of the UN resolutions – the case for war. Indeed, as the Butler report revealed in March 2002, British intelligence officials advised that the risk from Saddam was that he could activate his WMD material within a few days:

‘Iraq continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, although our intelligence is poor… Iraq continues with its [biological warfare] BW and [chemical warfare] CW programmes and, if it has not already done so, could produce significant quantities of BW agents within days and CW agent within weeks of a decision to do so. We believe it could deliver CBW by a variety of means, including in ballistic missile warheads. There are also some indications of a continuing nuclear programme. Saddam has used WMD in the past and could do so again if his regime were threatened.’

Sir John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time of the war and now head of MI6, gave evidence to Chilcot that such ‘dismantling’ or ‘dispersal’ – of which there was intelligence evidence at the time ­– is recognised as a way of concealing such material.  Such dismantling therefore did not mean the WMD no longer existed. On the contrary, the dismantling meant it continued to exist and was being hidden. This is hardly rocket science; it falls into the category of the bleedin’ obvious, but is nevertheless ruthlessly ignored or denied by the anti-war, anti-truth and anti-reason mob — who have simply and shockingly reversed the meaning of the evidence given to Chilcot.

Sir John said this:

Now, there was a paper, an assessment, on 9 September 2002, which reaffirmed and that was on Saddam’s options for using chemical and biological weapons. But it was in fact a separate judgment on capabilities which existed. I know that it has been described as a possibly a worst case scenario paper, but it wasn’t intended to be that. That paper reaffirmed existing judgments on the ability, if so decided to produce agent the availability of a range of delivery systems and the development of missiles beyond the permitted limits. The change was in the judgment on current possession, which now became firm: “Iraq has currently available a number of CW and BW agents and weapons from pre-war stocks or recent production.”

And the paper referred to recent intelligence on the production of weapons now taking place, the development of a mobile systems and then, importantly, on the regime and Saddam’s intent: The great importance that he attached to the possession of chemical and biological weapons and his readiness to use them if necessary, including to defend the regime from attack: “He saw possession as a central feature of his regional power position and continuing ability to project influence.” That intelligence on intent was significant — taken to be significant. It was also noted that we did not know specific plans for CBW use in the event of conflict, the location of production facilities, the size of stocks.

… “It was also noted that further intelligence might be forthcoming in the near future.” And, indeed, further intelligence did come in in September, which reported on the acceleration on the production of chemical and biological agent. And that too was regarded as significant.

As for the very late intelligence which came in on the eve of war, Sir John said this:

Now, an update, an assessment staff update on 10 March noted the report, which in fact was issued on 7 March yes, intelligence, which was issued on 7 March actually it was, I think, two reports that it was essentially saying there were two versions of the same report, that Iraq had no missiles which could reach Israel and none which could carry germ or biological weapons. The leadership had ordered the dismantlement of the missiles known Al Hussein, 600kilometre range missiles, to avoid discovery and they thought that they could be quickly reassembled. The JIC had over many months throughout this period reported the assessed existence of these missiles, up to 20 was the expectation. But all along, it had been reported that they had been disassembled and concealed.

… Defence Intelligence Staff advised, and this was noted in the update, that depending on the method of disassembly used, it might be possible to reassemble in one or two days. But if it was very complex disassembly, then it would be longer. SIS advised that the reference to “germ and biological” might also refer to chemical, just from the context, although that was speculative. So that was what the 10 March reference was about. On 17 March, intelligence was received that chemical weapons had been disassembled and dispersed and would be difficult to reassemble. Saddam had not yet ordered reassembly nor, indeed, asked about chemical weapons. The reports were assessed in the context of the policy of dispersal and concealment. They were not understood to be an indication that chemical and biological weapons did not exist. Indeed, they didn’t say that but, of course, it was clear from the reports that they might be difficult to find (my emphasis).

In any event – and this is absolutely crucial to the general madness now gripping Britain about the war in Iraq — the idea that the case for war rested on the belief that Saddam possessed stocks of WMD is a rewriting of history. WMD was only part of the story; if people like the current Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth thought that was the key element, that merely shows just how dumb some MPs are. The case for war was set out by the speeches made at the time by both Bush and Blair. Their overwhelming emphasis was on Saddam’s refusal to obey the binding UN resolutions showing he had dismantled his WMD programmes and the need to enforce the authority of the UN; Saddam’s concomitant failure to prove that he had destroyed his stocks of WMD and renounced his intention to continue developing such weapons; and the unconscionable danger posed by the ‘triple lock’ of his attachment to such weapons and past record in using them, his regional ambitions and hostility towards the west, and his connections to terrorism.

  • From the advance reports of Blair’s TV interview over the weekend, the claim that he would have invaded Iraq even if he had known that Saddam did not possess WMD explodes the whole case for war and comes close to an admission that he ‘went to war on a lie’.

Wrong. Blair said specifically in that interview he would have invaded anyway because of the 12 years in which Saddam defied the UN resolutions to disarm — the core of the legal case for war. And he indicated there were other reasons for thinking Saddam was dangerous — which he didn’t amplify on this occasion, but did in spades in the run-up to the war.

The terrifying thing about such media misrepresentation is that people have not only come to believe the lies but because this is a uniform media line they have no idea that this is the very opposite of much of what is actually being said to the Chilcot inquiry.  So the belief that Blair lied in order to wage an illegal war is now fixed in the public mind. Hence the tirade this morning by the former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald, who before he was a Law Officer was a barrister in the ultra radical Matrix chambers and who has previously expressed boiler-plate anti-Iraq war views. In the Times this morning, he raged:

The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer.

On the contrary: the deceit is being promulgated by the media. We were not taken to war on a lie. We are instead being lied to about that war – and about the evidence being given about that war — as history is steadily and shamefully rewritten, even as it is being made.


I commented thus at Melanie’s site:

Excellent article, Melanie. I have noticed over the years that your are NOT habitually with Blair, but at least this time you recognise the REAL agenda behind the ‘Blair Baiters’.

That is: twist the truth in order to hang Blair out to dry, in order to push for the Islamists’ cause, in order to annul that of Israel, in order to aid Iran, in order to push America’s Obama to choose  … in order to?

These ignorant innocents may not have joined up the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle yet, but others have.

It’s all linked, international politics. It isn’t just about getting our former PM in court. It never was.

Readers who believe in fair treatment for ALL,including Blair should sign the “Ban Blair-Baiting petition”. (Google it.)

You too should sign, Melanie, like Rentoul, Stephen Pollard and Oliver Kamm.

The ongoing nonsense and blatant misrepresentation of the Iraq Inquiry is REALLY a challenge to truth and freedom. Not necessarily in that order.

RELATED

1. Julie at Against Mainstream Opinion – ‘A little thank you note to Mr Rentoul’

After watching Simon Cowell on Newsnight – YES, NEWSNIGHT –  trying to suggest that HE, via the people, is the answer to politics as well as superstardom for the average singist he usually helps out – can I suggest he reads this exclusive interview? These people do know why we are in Afghanistan, Mr Cowell:

2. (From Julie again): An EXCLUSIVE interview with an Afghan family – ‘Please don’t leave us to the hands of the Taleban’

3. Blair Foundation blogspot

And from this blog:

4. Proud to be Tony Blair supporters and why

5. Click here and follow the link for a Labour Progress writer, Stan Rosenthal on the Ban Blair-Baiting petition (OK, you want a  shortcut? It’s here.)

6. From normblog here: “All he has said is that he would have sought another way to justify it. The Times report isn’t much better. And the Telegraph also has that Blair ‘would have invaded Iraq‘. Unless he said something more that has not yet been reported, these newspapers are misleading their readers.”

7. From Harry’s Place:  “What Blair said was: “I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat.”, not “I would have invaded Iraq even if the cabinet and parliament had opposed the war without the WMD argument”. Watching the full interview from about 22 minutes puts the quote in the correct context.”

REMINDER

“Blair’s head on a spear”! Charge Frears with incitement to murder

This idiotic film director, evidently ruminating on his next script, is typical of the ‘peace ‘n’ love’ reasons some of us work, (for nothing in case you wondered), at times  seemingly 25 hours a day. The picture is my depiction of what Frears’ ambitions would look like.  It makes Mr Berlusconi’s serious injuries at the hands of another mentally unbalanced man of passing consequence.

Italian PM Berlusconi's injuries after being attacked by a deranged man. (Pic AP). See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/6812321/Silvio-Berlusconi-to-spend-second-night-in-hospital.html

ETCETERA

From the Muslim Public Affairs Committee:

1. Blair wanted Muslim Blood regardless of WMDs

And … 2, Will Jewish Zionists airbrush Iraq Inquiry?

Meanwhile the re-writing of REAL history and the REAL facts goes on at our beloved papers:

3.  Guardian – Hans Blix AGAIN!

4. Ken Macdonald, embittered as ever, LIES about Blair and the reasons for Blair and the Iraq war. But do you reckon that even the TImes ‘s readers will question this account. Not on your life. They have already booked their seats at the foot of the scaffold and anyay, you can’t get truth refunds these days for love nor money … hatred.

Mr Blair gets on with the climate business in (or not quite in) hand, even if the current political leaders’ hands are not quite up to the task. And even if the facts are iffy – as they often are in life and politics.

John Rentoul’s post  – “The Uses of Uncertainty” will cut no ice with the WE ALL KNOWERS, of course.

See also Tony Blair’s Office website for a video on the present Copenhagen climate issues.

EXTRA! EXTRA!  READ ALL ABOUT IT!

A New York Times account of the Iraq Inquiry

You may notice that the NYT report is far more sober and less of the opining variety than virtually anywhere in the British press. The Great British Press Opiners don’t have time for reporting these days. Too many firshes to fry.




Free Hit Counter


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Melanie Phillips on John Rentoul’s “excellent Iraq Inquiry Rebuttal” blog”

  1. Guardian’s Inayat Bunglawala:no charges for knife attack … er … defence « Tony Blair Says:

    […] war campaigners are “shocked” over Blair’s words. Well, fancy that! I’m shocked. As is Melanie Phillips perhaps – or perhaps not – at the press’s  untruthfulness with their reports on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s