The stench of a cover-up surrounding the Iraq war inquiry is growing ever stronger. Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot confirmed to David Cameron last week that his report would not be ready until after the general election.
Various war criminals who may face criticism in the final version are delaying the report. They are using top lawyers to hold it up and water down any evidence against them.
So the inquiry is currently writing to people it intends to criticise to invite their responses before it publishes. This is the latest in a long line of delays. The inquiry was set up nearly six years ago by the then prime minister Gordon Brown.
It finished taking evidence in 2011 and was due to report at the end of that year. The inquiry was supposedly meant to be a “non judgemental” investigation into Britain’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war.
In reality, it will be a whitewash of all the lies that Tony Blair and his government told. Chilcot is a former top civil servant and “staff counsellor” for security and intelligence service employees.
And he was a member of the Butler inquiry, which cleared Blair of dishonestly using intelligence in the run-up to the war.
Chilcot also limited the scope of his own inquiry to dealing with “mistakes” and “shortcomings” on the road to war and in its aftermath.
His team consisted of three knights and a baroness. One member wrote a speech for Blair justifying “humanitarian intervention”. Each was appointed as a safe pair of hands.
Some evidence was heard in secret “to ensure candour and openness from witnesses”.
Chilcot said that it would not be “helpful” to discuss questions such as whether any of them had opposed the war.
The inquiry didn’t bother to ask any Iraqis what they think— and whatever the report says, no one will face any charges.
At best it will say that “mistakes were made” which they will “learn” from next time.
Some will claim they didn’t want to go to war but couldn’t stop it. Meanwhile, Blair cavorts across the Middle East as a “peace envoy” and fervently backs further intervention in the region.
Those at the top hope that dragging out the report will blunt the rage that many feel about the Iraq war.
But the millions who marched against the war will never forget the lies and hypocrisy of the war criminals.