THERE WERE no weapons of mass destruction. That much should be clear to everyone, despite the fact that the Hutton inquiry did not consider that issue.
And it is from that central lie that the others flowed. A few days after the apparent suicide of weapons expert Dr David Kelly, Tony Blair said it was “completely untrue” that he had authorised the leaking of his name to the media.
Yet in October the Hutton inquiry heard from the Ministry of Defence’s top civil servant Sir Kevin Tebbit that Blair chaired a key meeting on 8 July last year that set the naming process in train.
Tebbit said, “A policy decision on this matter had not been taken until the prime minister’s meeting. It was only after that that any of the press people had an authoritative basis on which to proceed.” The 8 July meeting was “decisive”. Blair lied about his involvement in naming David Kelly.
As Socialist Worker went to press no one knew whether Lord Hutton would indict Blair for this and other lies. It would be no surprise if he doesn’t. Hutton is a solidly establishment figure. He climbed to the top of the judiciary in Northern Ireland when the discrimination in the legal system against Catholics was at its height.
He sat on the non-jury Diplock courts which sent so many innocent Catholics to jail.
The Hutton inquiry is about the establishment judging the establishment. And whatever their differences they all feel a strong instinct to prevent popular outrage and criticism spiralling beyond narrow confines.
So the BBC, which was at loggerheads with the government over Kelly, has spent the last few weeks quietly backtracking and trying to defuse the row.
Far from being an anti-war voice, as the government claims, the BBC, according to an independent study by media experts, was the most pro-war of any British broadcaster. Tony Blair’s only remaining justification for the war is that it was justified on the humanitarian grounds of removing Saddam Hussein. But the Human Rights Watch group published a report this week denouncing this reason and the war itself.
Whatever the wording of the Hutton inquiry and however it is spun the war on Iraq is going to keep on haunting Blair.
By LINDSEY GERMAN, Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition
WHEN DAVID Kay was appointed head of the Iraq Survey Group last year, he was confident that he would find Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
He said that his group would produce not just a smoking gun, but a smoking arsenal. Last week he resigned, saying not only that he had found no weapons, but that he believed that there were none to find-and never had been.
Kay, remember, was sent into Iraq to do the job which UN inspectors were supposedly incapable of doing. His CIA-based team was to interview the scientists and experts who were said to be too frightened to talk under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The fact that it has failed to find a single shred of evidence only underlines the big lie with which George Bush and Tony Blair took us to war.
The Hutton inquiry cannot by its remit deal with the full enormity of this lie. It was set up to deal with the death of one man and its considerations were into why he was driven to kill himself. It does not deal with why tens of thousands of Iraqis have already died, or what we were doing attacking Iraq in the first place.
The Hutton report may apportion blame to individuals but does not address the big questions.
Why did Blair take us into this illegal and unnecessary war against the democratic wish of the majority of people in Britain?
What did he promise George Bush about supporting war regardless as far back as spring 2002? Why were we lied to about the threat from Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction?
And why did the majority of Labour MPs ignore the views of their constituents and troop into the government lobbies to vote for war?
So whatever the impact of the Hutton inquiry and however many insights we get into the closed workings of government and intelligence machines in Whitehall, it cannot be the inquiry that we need.
Tony Blair and his government want to put the best possible spin on the inquiry and then move on. Blair repeatedly says that he wants to draw a line under the war. No wonder.
We have to ensure that this does not happen. We have to settle our accounts with Blair. The anti-war movement showed last November, when we organised the biggest weekday demo ever against George Bush’s visit, that we had not gone away.
Up and down the country, tens of thousands of activists still gather regularly to discuss and organise their opposition to Blair and to the war on terror. They want an end to the occupation of Iraq and the right for Iraqis to elect a government of their choice. They oppose the further threats to Syria, Iran and North Korea carried out in the name of the war on terror.
They reject the clampdown on civil liberties carried out in the name of anti-terrorism and the growing attacks on Muslims which accompany it.
This Wednesday the Stop the War Coalition demonstrated at parliament while Blair responded to Hutton. Next month our annual conference will draw together activists from across Britain to discuss how to take the campaign forward.
20 March marks one year since the war began. It has been designated an international day of action by activists both at the European Social Forum and the World Social Forum. In Britain we are planning regional demonstrations on that day to show that the movement will continue to organise against war and occupation.
Tony Blair has lied and deceived his way into war. Only his resignation will begin to make amends for this terrible crime.
Two inspiring strikes show the way forward
We shouldn’t let them hide from the truth