TONY BLAIR is following one fake inquiry with another. He thought that Hutton's report would let him off the hook. But within hours of its publication the whitewash had provoked a huge backlash. Now Blair has announced another inquiry-this time into 'intelligence' on Iraqi weapons.
But like Hutton's inquiry it ignores the real issues. Blair went to war alongside George Bush on the basis of a lie. He insisted again and again that Iraqi weapons were the reason to go to war. There were no weapons. All the flannel about weapons and intelligence dossiers was merely the cover for a decision already taken to go to war. The spies produced what their masters wanted.
Paul O'Neill was George Bush's Treasury secretary when the US president came to office in January 2001. He says the very first cabinet meeting was dominated by one issue-making war on Iraq. In September 2000 the Project for a New American Century think-tank issued the latest in a series of reports calling for military intervention against Iraq. The authors included US vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the president's brother Jeb Bush.
On 17 September 2001 George Bush ordered plans for an invasion to be drawn up. Blair decided long before the war to back Bush. On 7 September 2002 they met at Bush's Camp David retreat. Clare Short, a Labour cabinet minister at the time, now insists that Blair agreed to go to war at that meeting, if not before.
This was all before any dossiers. And everyone now knows the dossiers that followed were false in almost every claim. Robin Cook sat in the cabinet during the build-up to war. He saw the intelligence reports. He thought they were nonsense and said so in parliament when he resigned days before the war.
We don't need an inquiry to establish that Iraq had no weapons, that Bush had decided to go war anyway or that Blair was determined to back him. The war was for oil and US power, with Blair riding on Bush's coat-tails in the hope of a share in both. The decision to go to war was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.
In any civilised society the inquiry would be into how long Bush and Blair should serve for murder. We are unlikely to see such an inquiry. That's why everyone should build the national anti-war demonstration on 20 March (see page 2) and join the new Respect coalition which will challenge New Labour at the polls on 10 June. These elections can become a referendum on Blair and his murderous war in Iraq. protests against occupation in Iraq
The Butler won't do it
ROBIN BUTLER, or to give him his official title 'The Lord Butler of Brockwell', is to head the new inquiry into intelligence on Iraqi weapons. An inspired choice. 'Half the picture can be true,' he famously told the 1996 Scott inquiry into the arms to Iraq scandal under the Tory government.
Butler was Britain's top civil servant and secretary to the cabinet from 1988 to 1998. In the early 1990s he 'investigated' allegations that Tory cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken had lied over secret meetings and deals with Saudi Arabian arms dealers.
Butler gave Aitken a clean bill of health. Yet Aitken was guilty and a liar, a truth that emerged when he sued the Guardian newspaper and lost. Aitken went to jail. Butler began his career as private secretary to Tory prime minister Edward Heath from 1972 to 1974, a period which saw the cover up of the Bloody Sunday murders by the British army in Northern Ireland.
He was later private secretary to Margaret Thatcher from 1982 to 1985-from the Falklands War to the miners' strike. Butler is now the principal of University College, Oxford, where he is a champion of top-up fees. A very safe bet to get far less than even half a picture and pretend it is the truth.