Socialist Worker

New Labour warmongers condemned by their own words

Issue No. 1865

Tony Blair and his key lieutenants knew full well that they were lying to justify war with Iraq. They knew that Saddam Hussein was 'no threat', but deliberately lied to try and persuade people to back war.

That was the sensational truth to emerge on Monday from the Hutton inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly. The inquiry saw an email written by Blair's top aide, Jonathan Powell. The message was written on 17 September last year. It was sent to the chief of Britain's 'intelligence' John Scarlett and to Blair's right hand man Alastair Campbell.

Powell admitted that the draft dossier 'did nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat,' from Iraq to 'his neighbours let alone the west'. In case there was any doubt Powell wrote about Saddam 'We do not have evidence that he is an imminent threat.'

Yet a week later, on 24 September, Blair launched the rewritten dossier and claimed the threat from Iraq 'is current and serious'. He insisted that Saddam 'has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons which could be activated within 45 minutes'. Blair knew these claims were false. He and Alastair Campbell are at the heart of 'sexing up' the dossier.

On Monday the inquiry saw an email Campbell himself ordered to be sent specifically instructing officials to rewrite the dossier. The email was from Campbell to Blair's chief of staff Jonathan Powell. It was sent on 5 September last year after the 'intelligence' services had produced their draft dossier.

Blair and those around him were furious. As Jonathan Powell's email later admitted, they felt the dossier did NOT back up their case for war. So Campbell's email bluntly demanded, 'Re dossier: substantial rewrite.' And it revealed that Tony Blair ordered the rewrite when it said 'structure as per TB's discussion'.

The government lies over Iraq are falling apart. The anti-war case is being vindicated, and it's tearing Blair's regime apart.

They just couldn't handle the truth

BLAIR AND his lieutenants launched a witch-hunt against the BBC and Dr Kelly. The claim that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction posed an imminent threat was central to Blair's entire case for war.

He and his ministers denied they were after 'regime change' in Iraq. They repeatedly said the war was only about weapons of mass destruction. They couldn't accept any criticism of their claims. That's why Blair and his entourage became obsessed with Dr Kelly.

The Hutton inquiry heard that the most powerful people in the country were sitting around day after day discussing how to handle Kelly. The sinister John Scarlett, Britain's top spy, demanded Kelly be subject to 'a proper security-style interview' and talked of ensuring 'all these inconsistencies are thrashed out' of him.

Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, admitted to the inquiry that 'the prime minister wanted to know what we knew of Kelly's views on weapons of mass destruction' .

Powell also acknowledged that the Blair gang were worried that Kelly 'might say some uncomfortable things'. When Kelly finally admitted to his bosses he had spoken to the BBC they were ready to leave matters there, and not subject him to public grilling. The senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, Kevin Tebbit, told the inquiry that he had not wanted Kelly's name to made public out of 'some regard for the man'.

But, said Tebbit, that was overruled by defence secretary Geoff Hoon. Tebbit said that Hoon added that his decision on that was backed by Tony Blair.

Kelly was hounded to his death

WHEN KELLY did appear before the parliamentary committee he buckled under the pressure, probably affected by a letter handed to him just before he appeared warning of serious disciplinary action. He effectively denied briefing journalists against the government line on Iraqi weapons.

Yet it is clear from the evidence of all of the journalists at the Hutton inquiry that Kelly made exactly the allegations they reported. The government piled on the pressure to make Kelly toe their line.

An internal Foreign Office email reported, 'Kelly is apparently feeling the pressure, and does not appear to be handling it well.' Days later Kelly killed himself. He was hounded to death by Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Jonathan Powell and all the warmongers.

False claims

Truck full of lies

OVER 100 days since the official end of the war no 'weapons of mass destruction' have been found in Iraq. But on 30 May, when US forces seized two trucks in Iraq, George Bush and Tony Blair claimed they had discovered mobile laboratories for producing biological weapons.

'Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons-they're wrong. We found them!' declared a jubilant Bush.

'We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons,' said Blair the same day. A week later, the Observer reported, 'During his whistle stop tour of the Gulf, Europe and Russia, Blair repeatedly briefed journalists that the trailers were germ production labs which proved that Iraq had WMD.'

Yet as Blair was making such claims, Dr Kelly was in Iraq. He inspected the trailers and simply didn't believe Blair's claim. Kelly spoke off the record to the Observer, which, on 15 June, quoted 'a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq'.

The expert said, 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were-facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.' The Observer report absolutely infuriated Blair.

He and top Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office officials launched a hunt to unearth the Observer's expert. They also launched a witch-hunt against the BBC over its claims that a senior weapons expert had told them the government had 'sexed up' the dossier. The witch-hunts soon focused in on Dr Kelly.

'He should resign'

ONE BY one, former Blair loyalists and ministers are turning on the man they used to serve. Glenda Jackson was a New Labour transport minister. She loyally campaigned against Ken Livingstone as mayor of London and backed up Blair's candidate.

Now she says, 'Blair talked about having to pay the blood price. Possibly, in my view, because he knew the blood in question would not be his own. I am ashamed of this government. More than ashamed, I am disgusted. The capacity of Number 10 to inspire disgust seems almost boundless, but what is happening now is unspeakable. Blair should resign. There has to come a point where the holder of the highest political office in the land must acknowledge responsibility.'

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 23 Aug 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1865
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.