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‘Lies are unravelling’

This article is over 20 years, 9 months old
'Weapons of mass destruction were not a reason for going to war, they were the excuse to go to war.'
Issue 1866

THIS DEVASTATING truth is revealed in a confidential memo, released by the Hutton inquiry into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly. It was written on 2 July this year by a former chief of defence intelligence, Air Marshal Sir John Walker, and was sent to parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

Walker was the deputy chair of the government’s Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) from 1991 to 1994. The JIC is the body which drew up the infamous dossier on Iraq’s weapons last September. In two confidential memos to MPs Walker tears apart the case for war. ‘Uppermost in the reason to go to war’, Walker begins, ‘was the assertion that Iraq possessed WMD [weapons of mass destruction] able to be employed within 45 minutes and presenting a threat to the UK and its interests.’

He says that the 45 minute claim was ‘unacceptable’ and concludes, ‘If Iraqi WMD existed, they were not used when the very existence of the state was at risk. The UN inspectors found no evidence. For two months since the ceasefire, with the best of intelligence, no evidence has been uncovered. With hundreds, maybe thousands of people, from the highest to the lowest, who would have known of a WMD programme available to interrogators, still no evidence emerges.’

Walker’s second memo argues that the decision to go to war had already been taken last autumn. He points out that ‘post summer 2002’ a ‘change in the pattern of targeting became noticeable’ in US and British air operations over Iraq.

The new pattern made no sense except ‘to prepare the battlefield’ for invasion. ‘Such operations are not the figment, or the authorisation of some underling. The policy would have been changed at the highest level.’

Walker concludes, ‘The nation was committed to war in the late summer, early autumn of 2002. Thereafter the whole process of reason, other reason, yet other reason, humanitarian, morality, regime change, terrorism, finally, imminent WMD attack…was merely covering fire. It was not a reason for going to war; it was the excuse to go to war. Then, the 45 minute WMD threat falls neatly into place.’

Walker’s criticism of the government has until now been secret. But in June of this year Blair and his gang went ballistic when they read press reports that other senior intelligence figures and top weapons experts were challenging government claims on Iraq’s weapons.

Blair claimed two trailers found in Iraq were mobile labs for chemical and biological weapons. Press reports quoted a ‘top weapons expert’ dismissing this claim. That expert was Kelly, and immediately the Blair gang launched their witch-hunt to unmask and silence him.

The BBC’s now famous reports that the Iraq dossier last September had been ‘sexed up’ also terrified Blair and those around him. When the witch-hunt finally spooked Kelly to come forward he was subject to repeated grillings.

Eventually Kelly was forced to testify at two parliamentary committees. The government hoped Kelly, after severe arm-twisting and disciplinary threats, would back up the government’s story. In part he did, although testimonies at the Hutton inquiry show that Kelly was not telling the truth.

The government blocked MPs from asking Kelly anything that might be embarrassing. Defence secretary Geoff Hoon wrote, ‘I presume Dr Kelly will be questioned only on those matters which are directly relevant to the claims made by Andrew Gilligan and not on the wider issue of Iraqi WMD and the preparation of the dossier.’

The government knew Kelly did not believe the claims on Iraq’s weapons, and if pressed may have said so. Hoon’s top civil servant, Sir Kevin Tebbitt, warned that Kelly ‘might say some uncomfortable things’.

The truth is slowly emerging as the Hutton inquiry proceeds. It is clear that when Blair met George Bush in the US on 8 September last year the decision to go to war was made. In the days immediately afterwards a frenzy of e-mails and memos flew around Downing Street and Whitehall ‘sexing up’ the Iraq dossier.

Now all the lies are unravelling, and Blair and his gang are in trouble. Millions of people knew Blair was lying and opposed the war. Now millions more who believed or half-believed his claims know he was lying too, and are questioning what the war was really about.

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