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Hutton Inquiry Out
January 28, 2004 7:25 AM   Subscribe

The Hutton Inquiry has concluded its investigation. It unanimously vindicates the British Government, castigates the BBC for lying and criticising the Government's honour, and mildly criticises some aspects of the Intelligence services and Dr. David Kelly himself.
An accessible PDF to HTML version of the Hutton website - The Guardian's Hutton site - The BBC's Hutton site - Google News UK.
posted by Blue Stone (57 comments total)

 
I realized this was coming the very minute US and Brit forces were attacked with a very large arsenal of WMDs approx. 45 mins after setting foot on Irak.
posted by magullo at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2004


My my. What a pleasant whitewash.......er, um surprise !
posted by troutfishing at 7:49 AM on January 28, 2004


Hutton's line on the 45 minute claim was that the intelligence services believed the source to be accurate, therefore going to war and killing thousands of people was fine. His take on the Today programme broadcast is that the BBC believed their source to be accurate, therefore broadcasting it without taking further notes, obtaining corroborating evidence and subjecting Kelly to a lie-detector test is despicable.

Is it me, or is the world crazy, when an inquiry can criticise the BBC for broadcasting one assertion based on a single source for which there is no tablets-of-stone proof, yet not criticise a Government for taking the country to war on the basis of one assertion from a single source which has been demonstrably proved to be incorrect?

For God's sake, which is the more serious issue here? The precise form of words used by Gilligan in a single broadcast at 6.30am heard by a couple of hundred people, or the fact that we went to war and killed people as a direct result of a claim which has been proved to be demonstrably false?

I have no problem with the use of war as an instrument of state policy. I supported the interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait and even the bloody Falklands. I didn't support war in Iraq this time round simply because I thought it would caus more harm than good. What I cannot abide though is that this Government lied to the people. It lied, dissembled, span, embellished facts and allowed clear untruths to be propagated. And it kept lying when it was found out. It is still lying now. Look at the exact phrases that Blair, Campbell and other government spokesmen are using to deny they leaked the report early.

"No-one in the Government leaked the report" says Blair. Well Campbell isn't in the Government, is he Tony ? "I find that implication offensive" says Campbell. I find you offensive Campbell but you have yet to wink out of existence in a puff of logic. Tw@.

I can believe Blair survived the tuition fees thing, I know as a university employee the promise of a review in 2009 that placated the rebels has also mysteriously placated those institutions that want tuition fees. I don't wish to preempt the result of such a review obviously but it will say the whole thing has been a rip-roaring success and you may now charge the plebians whatever you please. That much was to be expected.

This one is a bit galling though. It is now OK to go to war on the basis of a lie and subsequently justify such a transparent abandonment of democracy as a means of expanding democracy to hitherto unknown lands.

Fascists 1, Humans 0.
posted by vbfg at 7:53 AM on January 28, 2004


I'm kinda with vbfg but don't know enough about it---Was Lord Hutton an independent investigator? Did the government and Blair fully cooperate? Are they really saying that there was no exaggeration at all? Did they have it in for the BBC (is this a smackdown of them for all sorts of reasons?) Is Blair safe now til the end of his term?
posted by amberglow at 8:03 AM on January 28, 2004


Hutton was appointed by Blair. Hence the result.
posted by tapeguy at 8:05 AM on January 28, 2004


I think some of you guys have the wrong inquiry. Check the top link, and you'll see it was into the death of David Kelly, not whether it was right to go to war or not.

It seems pretty clear that the government did not conspire to kill Kelly.We may never know exactly why he committed suicide; but his anger at being sidelined and having a boss half his age, his recent and sudden religious conversion, suggest in retrospect he was going through some kind of mid-life crisis.

As for the BBC, the reprimands seem pretty justified. How far would Watergate have got if Woodward and Bernstein had said "We've uncovered a conspiracy that can bring down the President! But, we, uh, kind of lost our notes so you'll just have to take our word for it..."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2004


This is a complete joke, we've all heard the evidence. The fact that newspaper after newspaper considered the evidence and recognised that Blair and his cronies would at best receive some damaging criticism shows this up as a complete and utter whitewash.
posted by niceness at 8:12 AM on January 28, 2004


what vbfg said , next comes labour mps swinging from the ceiling with oranges in their mouths.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:14 AM on January 28, 2004


...also add in the very helpful leak to The Sun this morning and you have a Government with the same contempt for justice as it's owner George W.
posted by niceness at 8:14 AM on January 28, 2004


[Disclaimer: I am disappointed that the Hutton report doesn't criticise the Government and that I can't use it as ammunition to beat the Government over the head with, something which I would happily do.]

The first thing I thought when hearing Lord Hutton repeat Andrew Gilligan's report, after all this time, regarding the 45 minute claim's inclusion in the Govt. document, was how reasonable it sounded; that the 45 minute claim was seized upon and pushed for to "sex up" a document that was otherwise bland.

Hutton says that the government, and it's press officer, Andrew Campbell, deserves no criticism at all. Hutton says that the government did not try to "sex up" the dossier and that Gilligan accusing that it inserted the 45 minute claim knowing it or suspecting it to be false and claiming the govt. was being dishonourable, is "unfounded". This conlusion shows, to me, an indefensible amount of selective perspective. The dossier included a whole section which was plagarised from the public domain, which WAS sexed up: inserting words like "terrorists" where before there were none, and other assorted, and unfounded, alterations to strengthen the case against Iraq.

How is it, I find myself asking, that a governmnet that could pass this plagarised and, without question, 'sexed-up' section of the dossier could in the other part of that dossier, be said to have acted with purity of intent and honourability?

This government is one which was found to be repeat announcing amounts of money that it was spending on certain schemes, to give the impression that they were new amounts being spent, when they were the same amount being announced again and again. This is the government whose credibility Hutton declares is without stain. This is the same government that has promised not to privatise air-traffic control or introduce top-up-fees for University students before an election, and then has gone and done exactly those things, despite no change in circumstances that demanded the change in policy. This is not honourablity.

This is the government which when the president of China visited Britain, had the police block from the president's view, protestors, as he was driven into buckingham palace to sign lucrative contracts for Britsh businesses. When the matter was being investigated, it was found that the minutes of a meeting between govt. representatives and the police had disappeared. Minutes of crucial meetings and conversations with advisers regarding Kelly, were also missing, or otherwise sparse and uninformative.

Hutton does not take any of this obvious evidence of the government's duplicity and preparedness to distort information and decieve the public, into account, and that, to me, lacks credibility.

The government did seize on the 45 minute claim, I would assert, to spice up a bland dossier: the dossier was all ready largely composed of entirely plagarised material which had been altered to support the government's agenda without foundation, and yet somehow Hutton ignores this and declares that the government included the 45 minute claim with honesty and integrity.

I would assert, that the government probably didn't care whether the 45 minute claim was true or not, since it was the killer piece of information in a sea of unimpressive old data. As such Gilligan's initial accusation seems truer to me that the Government's position that it behaved with honour.

The idea that Blair did not have a hand in the naming of Kelly, is also without credibility. This is a government whose modus operandi has been shown, indesputibly, to be 'top-down', centralised and autocratic. Blair's hand is shown to be central to all decisions, except when something goes wrong, when he is conveniently uninvolved. Hutton seems to have skipped over the statement that Blair made in the airplane when he denied that he had any part in the naming of Kelly, when in fact he did chair a meeting about this very matter, that lead inevitably to the naming of Kelly. Blair lied. The idea that the PM was not driving and controlling this matter, lacks substance.

Indeed the only vague criticism of Blair by Hutton, is that he may have "unconciously influenced" the head of the JIC into publishing information that promoted the case for war.

Hutton's report seems to me to be a comlete whitewash, protecting the status-quo, as it seems such inquiries often are.

Many years ago William Waldergrave, during the mad-cow crisis, lied to parliament. A subsequent inquiry determined that he had not lied, but that he had merely "not told the truth". The government of the day frequently seems to be be protected by such inquiries, with an enourmous (and not least in this inquiry) amount of undeserved honour conferred upon it by the menbers of the establishment who investigate it.

As far as the BBC is concerned, it does seem that a number of Hutton's conclusions bear weight. The manner in which the BBC investigated Gilligan's report, and Campbell's complaint were shown to be done without sufficient dilligence, something which needs to be addressed.

As I was listening to Alistair Campbell on the radio just now damning the BBC once again, criticising the mix-up of information and opinion that he says was evident in Gilligan's report, I felt sickened. This is the man, a former writer of fake erotic letters for Penthouse, the ex-chief spin-doctor for the government who chaired intelligence meetings. The hypocrisy makes me wat to hurl.

My conclusion: whitewash; selective (and indefensible) perspective when it benefits the government, a wider perspective shown when it supports the government's position; undeserved benefit of doubt given to the govt. despite evidence to the contrary. The 'establishment' protecting itself by failing to be sufficiently critical of itself whilst being very ready to criticise others. Disappointing and yet not particularly surprising.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:15 AM on January 28, 2004


Steve Bell is right again...
posted by BigCalm at 8:23 AM on January 28, 2004


Hutton's line on the 45 minute claim was that the intelligence services believed the source to be accurate, therefore going to war and killing thousands of people was fine. His take on the Today programme broadcast is that the BBC believed their source to be accurate, therefore broadcasting it without taking further notes, obtaining corroborating evidence and subjecting Kelly to a lie-detector test is despicable.

Difference is that the 45 minute source said 45 minutes. Believe him or not, that's what he said.

Kelly just didn't say what Gilligan claimed he did. Gilligan either lied or heard only what he wanted to. In fact, Kelly (and basically the rest of the world's intelligence services) seems to have bought Saddam's bluff: that there were weapons more or less ready to go. There is even some evidence that Saddam himself thought he had viable weapons programs(!). If he was fooled, what hopes do outsiders have of getting the truth?

Still, as last week's Frontline makes absolutely clear, Iraq was cheating on the weapons sanctions, just not (for certain) with NBC weapons. They focused on delivery vehicles (500 and 1000km rockets) for future "after sanctions collapse" NBC programs--an analysis fitting the "Immediate Threat in 2007, another nasty dictator in 2003" analysis championed by Pollack et al.

The "immediate threat to us and our allies" claim that Blair (not, I would note Bush) made was not borne out by the facts, despite what the intelligence services said. Bush was careful not to play that card, perhaps since there were so many unknowns about the intelligence after 1998. What was up with the Niger fake is anybody's guess.

But all of this is complicated, nuanced, and makes the world a hard place to understand. It doesn't fit the narrative of Good vs. Bush/Blair Personification on Earth of All That is Unholy and is of no interest to many mefiers.

on preview:
[Disclaimer: I am disappointed that the Hutton report doesn't criticize the Government and that I can't use it as ammunition to beat the Government over the head with, something which I would happily do.]

This is the most honest thing I have seen written on mefi in a long time. Kudos for admitting it!
posted by ednopantz at 8:25 AM on January 28, 2004


I think some of you guys have the wrong inquiry. Check the top link, and you'll see it was into the death of David Kelly, not whether it was right to go to war or not.

I agree, though when the issue at stake that brought Kelly into the argument is whether the government was operating on the basis of a lie or not then a thorough investigation ought to maybe touch on these issues. Do you not agree?

It seems pretty clear that the government did not conspire to kill Kelly.

I don't think anyone who doesn't write for Socialist Worker had suggested they had.
posted by vbfg at 8:28 AM on January 28, 2004


Did the government and Blair fully cooperate?
A lot of evidence was presented by the government. However, minutes of key meetings were not "because they don't exist".
Are they really saying that there was no exaggeration at all?
To paraphrase Hutton, he said that if it was sexed up, it was probably "subconscious". Seriously, that's what he said.
Did they have it in for the BBC (is this a smackdown of them for all sorts of reasons?)
Alastair Cambell's diary was presented in which he claimed that he wanted to "Fuck the BBC".
Is Blair safe now til the end of his term?
Good lord no.
posted by chill at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2004


As for the BBC, the reprimands seem pretty justified.

Agreed. I do though find it pretty galling that the BBC is going to find itself the target of an unprecedented criticism from the likes of Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper over the issue of integrity. Even with the faults outlined in Hutton it is the best we've got in the UK and the prospect of it being torn apart over this affair I find so depressing, especially when you look at the alternatives.
posted by chill at 8:37 AM on January 28, 2004


It indents right off the page.

Should this Hutton guy even be talking about whether the document was altered or not if this is purely a murder vs. suicide investigation? I'd believe that it was a suicide (that much media focus can do strange things to people), but it seems like this guy was overstepping his bounds in some of his pronouncements.
posted by destro at 8:37 AM on January 28, 2004


Is Blair safe now til the end of his term?

I think the fact that Hutton has answered so few questions sill be unhelpful for Blair but, as the newspaper leak shows, he will try and spin this 'victory' so hard that calls for a full WMD enquiry are blown away.
posted by niceness at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2004


The BBC needs to unleash its secret weapon: have Doctor Who go back in time to prevent Dr. Kelly's death... (Of course, if the Doctor could really do that kind of thing, then the American version of 'Coupling' would never have happened...)
posted by wendell at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2004


...when the issue at stake that brought Kelly into the argument is whether the government was operating on the basis of a lie or not then a thorough investigation ought to maybe touch on these issues. Do you not agree?

The report certainly touches on issue of whether we "went to war on a lie"... and concludes that the JIC genuinely believed that the intelligence was correct. We may have gone to war on a "mistake", but not a "lie". No particular reason to turn the thread into another was-the-war-justified argument again though... we've had plenty of that debate already.

It's interesting that several people are calling this a "whitewash" already though. Given that the report summarizes all the evidence given to the inquiry, I think the onus is on the doubters to state either which evidence was wrong, or which conclusions are not supported by the stated evidence.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2004


he will try and spin this 'victory' so hard that calls for a full WMD enquiry are blown away.

And with the tabloids going at the BBC, he might very well get away with it. Probably several resignations at the BBC will follow - from the Editor of the Today program to the Governors. I just hope that the government don't use this as an excuse to remove all the governors and replace them with a downing street press office controlled quango. That would be bad news for the BBC, and bad news for everyone who uses their services.
posted by BigCalm at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2004


Gilligan was wrong, he said and wrote some pretty damning things. This should have been picked up when Campbell complained, but the BBC had had enough of his complaining and dug its heels in, preferring to back their own man.
posted by johnny novak at 8:45 AM on January 28, 2004


I'll bet Hutton took one hard look at Kelly's corpse and decide he wanted to live 8?)

It's interesting that several people are calling this a "whitewash" already though. Given that the report summarizes all the evidence given to the inquiry, I think the onus is on the doubters to state either which evidence was wrong, or which conclusions are not supported by the stated evidence.

Did you miss the third post? Or, for that matter, Hutton's interpretations of what "sexed up" means?
posted by magullo at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2004


The report certainly touches on issue of whether we "went to war on a lie"... and concludes that the JIC genuinely believed that the intelligence was correct. We may have gone to war on a "mistake", but not a "lie". No particular reason to turn the thread into another was-the-war-justified argument again though... we've had plenty of that debate already.

We have indeed, and I'm genuinely not attempting to. You see the discrepancy between one unverified source bad versus one unverified source good though, surely? I'd be astounded if you don't find that a cause for concern in any democracy, let alone our own.
posted by vbfg at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2004


So - the BBC lied and someone died.

Here's my question - a lot of the people who have been against the Bush administration and the Blair administration going to war in Iraq, and frankly, doing anything at all, depended on the Beeb and the NYTimes for their information.

What we've learned in the last two years, between Jayson Blair and his progeny, and now the Hutton inquiry, is that they were being spoonfed lies that they wanted to hear. The truth was sacrificed on the altar of politics by journalists, not politicians (for once.)

Question - does that change anyone's opinions? I would assume not. Personally, if I found that everything I'd been told was a lie, and I'd formed my opinions based on what I'd been told, I'd be a little bit red faced, and I'd consider changing my opinions.

But then, reading up this thread, all I see is "conspiracy!!" calls.

Please note that the Beeb is under fire not just from the Hutton inquiry, but from others who think that its reporting has become woefully unbalanced (like me). People who think that it once was the premier source for information, and has in recent years been taken over by idealogues who have derailed a respectable organization for political ends. C.F. their coverage of Kashmir, Palestine, or American politics, all of which have a distinct tilt to them, to the same extent that the Sun/Fox do.
posted by swerdloff at 9:18 AM on January 28, 2004


The BBC is public, right? Is it then part of the government? under its control? Does Blair have the ability or right to fire them all for whatever reason, and turn it into his very own Fox News Network? Or does Parliament? Is it independent, like the other papers and media in Britain? Where do licensing fees fit into it? Don't the viewers and readers have a stake in it, given that they pay for it? (sorry for all the questions, but the power plays and control elements in this story are unknown to me)
posted by amberglow at 9:19 AM on January 28, 2004


vbfg: The difference between the unverified source that was discussed at great length and passed as reliable by the highest inteligence agency in the land (JIC) and the unverified source that was quoted 'on the fly' and inaccurately (as admitted by Gilligan) should be obvious to most. It is the lack of processes to authorise the use of material that is critisized by Hutton, not the use of the specific source.
posted by daveg at 9:22 AM on January 28, 2004


amberglow: The BBC has a nice summary of how it is run.

The problem in the Kelly situation seems to be that the Governors identify too closely with the internal behaviour of the BBC and so provide no external control. I think that a separate, independent oversight body is probably required to track the BBC's compliance with both its charter and its codes of practice (possibly an extension of OfComs responsibilities - who have responsibility for overseeing most UK broadcasting and telecoms)
posted by daveg at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2004


I was never impressed with Gilligan's report and throughout all of this I've cringed at his assertions that he was right. It was dodgy reports like this that made those of us who were anti-war look as bad as the government and their dossiers made of fairy tales and dusty old data.

Having said that (and I think I said this here at the time) the MoD should not have publicly released Kelly's name under any circumstances. All of this could have been sorted without the rumplestiltskin naming strategy, his consequent public humiliation and then suicide.

The government now has everything it could wish for. It's put the fear of god into the BBC ensuring that they and their reporters will be avoiding too much controversy for a while. Any potential whistleblowers know that if they speak to reporters their name will be all over The Currant Bun followed by a roasting in front of a red hot committee. None of this is good for democracy.

BBC News is still great and let's keep this in perspective guys - this was one story that slipped through the net of the Today programme, pushed through by an ambitious freelance reporter. I don't hear any other accusations against it and even Campbell admitted their standards are high (making the story more damaging to him). It's also worth remembering that the accusation against Campbell, the hardest to support, was debuted by Gilligan in a news paper, not the Beeb.

The difference between the unverified source that was discussed at great length and passed as reliable by the highest inteligence agency in the land (JIC) and the unverified source that was quoted 'on the fly' and inaccurately (as admitted by Gilligan) should be obvious to most.

What's obvious is that they were both wrong. And I guess the lesson we've learnt today children is that we should only go to war based on what we know not what we think we know.
posted by dodgygeezer at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2004


Ah, what a pleasant whitewash....err....ummm, surprise !
posted by troutfishing at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2004


So the dossier wasn't dodgy, and we'll be finding those nasty weapons any day now, eh?
*pokes body with stick*
posted by 2sheets at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2004


The difference between the unverified source that was discussed at great length and passed as reliable by the highest inteligence agency in the land (JIC) and the unverified source that was quoted 'on the fly' and inaccurately (as admitted by Gilligan) should be obvious to most.

It is. One bunch of unelected public service cretins got away with it and the other bunch of unelected public service cretins didn't. The BBC discussed the Gilligan claim at length. They were remiss in not checking his sources, in particular not even asking to look at his notes before they started playing Gilligan off against Campbell. That was just foolhardy.

If they had checked up on it none of this would have played out in this way and Kelly would likely have been alive today. I do accept the BBC has some issues it needs to deal with, I'm not defending them (beyond their right to exist as is beyond government control) at all.

The fact is though that presenting the claims that the government did in the manner that they did is lying. It's not a "I did not have sexual relations with those WMDs" type lie but it is presenting something which you do not know to be fact as fact with a specific purpose in mind. That's lying mate. It might be the result of a properly documented full and frank discussion about which we will know very little until the thirty year rule kicks in, but it's still lying.
posted by vbfg at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2004


It's not a "I did not have sexual relations with those WMDs"

Where it used to be "define sex" now it's "define sexed-up".

So that's going from using one word to using two. An improvement by any way you care to look at it.

/All the while agreeing with vbfg
posted by magullo at 10:05 AM on January 28, 2004


I think some of you guys have the wrong inquiry. Check the top link, and you'll see it was into the death of David Kelly, not whether it was right to go to war or not.

(as well as reading and replying to this, maybe you could try to understand it, vbfg)
posted by andrew cooke at 10:08 AM on January 28, 2004


Nothing tilts as much as Murdoch does.
posted by destro at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2004


"...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances
surrounding the death of Dr Kelly."


(as well as reading and replying to this, maybe you could try to understand it, vbfg)

I get it, really I do. It's a fine means of generating a sense of conclusion without actually concluding anything, all the while spinning the impression that such a unique and unprecedented inquiry as could not be limited by the scope or depth of its potential findings.

Or am I going mad?
posted by vbfg at 10:21 AM on January 28, 2004


It was about the death of David Kelly, but that didn't stop Tony Blair in his comments after the Hutton announcement from droning on at length about how the report justifies all the claims about weapons of mass destruction.

In many ways it was convenient for the Government that David Kelly died, because it enabled them to put in place an enquiry which looks like it has something to do with the war without having to actually examine the real motives and evidence behind the war.
posted by skylar at 10:23 AM on January 28, 2004


It's unbelievable. Kelly killed himself after his role was made public. Gilligan didn't name the source; the BBC refused to name the source; The MoD implicitly named the source and the inquiry blames the BBC. I don't understand that at all...
posted by tapeguy at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2004


The dossier included a whole section which was plagarised from the public domain, which WAS sexed up: inserting words like "terrorists" where before there were none, and other assorted, and unfounded, alterations to strengthen the case against Iraq.

That was the other dossier, Blue Stone.

The brouhaha over the Today report was elevated by Number 10 to create a nice little media-war to divert from the real war, and the substantive issue of WMDs: as Campbell said, it was designed to 'fuck Gilligan'. It would have stayed that way for a couple of weeks, had neither the BBC nor the government decided to act like little sisters fighting, with poor Dr Kelly as the doll pulled to pieces in the middle.

In the end, as skylar says, the diversion became the story. As Hutton said,
['sexed up'] could mean that whilst the intelligence contained in the dossier was believed to be reliable, the dossier was drafted in such a way as to make the case against Saddam Hussein as strong as the intelligence contained in it permitted. If the term is used in this latter sense, then because of the drafting suggestions made by 10 Downing Street for the purpose of making a strong case against Saddam Hussein, it could be said that the Government “sexed-up” the dossier.
It's by that definition you should judge Blair's conduct in the wider context of the run-up to war, not the admittedly-unfounded one that Gilligan presented in his first report -- especially now we know that the intelligence services and No. 10 appear to have used the same editorial standards as the Today programme. But judging that small matter wasn't in Hutton's remit.

At least Gavyn Davies has set a precedent by resigning and saying that the buck stops with him: "I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final.' Perhaps Blair can take note of that when he accepts the referee's decision that those WMD claims, on which he entirely depended for his case for war, added up to sweet fuck-all.

Expect, though, the entirely disinterested Murdoch papers to use this as the beginning of an even fiercer campaign to have the BBC's Charter torn up, and Sky News declared the One True Fair And Balanced Broadcast Network. The bastards. I'm waiting for Blair to announce a leak inquiry, since Lord Hutton is pretty fucking pissed off about someone (whose name probably rhymes with 'gamble') passing the report on to the Soaraway Sun.

What it proves, most of all, is that the BBC's experiment in hiring reporters from Fleet Street (i.e. Gilligan, who worked for the Sunday Telegraph) wasn't a good idea. They should stick with training their own from a tender age, like the Jesuits. The papers have better lawyers, for a start. And their writers don't have to extemporise. They have subeditors, after all...

Please note that the Beeb is under fire not just from the Hutton inquiry, but from others who think that its reporting has become woefully unbalanced (like me).

Yes, and lots of them are Fleet Street reporters, past and present; see above paragraph. Or did you mean that people think the BBC has become woefully unbalanced... like you? In which case, swerdloff, I'd have to say the Beeb has a long way to go before it gets that woefully unbalanced, given that you now seem to want people to say: 'Ok, we admit it. Gilligan fucked up big time, which means we must regard the other 27,000 BBC employees as liars and frauds until swerdloff ticks them off his list. Do we at least get David Frost?'
posted by riviera at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2004


The Chairman of the BBC just quit.
posted by amberglow at 11:03 AM on January 28, 2004


And should I add, swerdloff, that a lot of people who have been for the Bush administration and the Blair administration going to war in Iraq, and frankly, doing anything at all, depended on the Blair administration and the Bush administration for their information.

What we've learned in the last two years, between Tony Blair and his progeny, and now the Kay report, is that they were being spoonfed lies that they wanted to hear.

Question - does that change anyone's opinions? I would assume not. Personally, if I found that everything I'd been told was a lie, and I'd formed my opinions based on what I'd been told, I'd be a little bit red faced, and I'd consider changing my opinions.
posted by riviera at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2004


In many ways it was convenient for the Government that David Kelly died, because it enabled them to put in place an enquiry which looks like it has something to do with the war without having to actually examine the real motives and evidence behind the war.

Actually, they would be a lot better off if he was still alive to testify because Kelly agreed with the govt.

Read it again. Kelly agreed with the govt.

People want to make the guy out to be a martyr who spoke truth to power, but he went on record agreeing with the dossier's broad thrust, quibbling here and there over details: deployable in under an hour vs. deployable in under a week. Either way, deployable weapons, in his opinion, not the potemkin arsenal that it seems the Iraqis actually had.

The real story here is that western intelligence agencies missed the truth (again), not in an effort to please Cheney, but because it this stuff is really, really hard to do right.

But people are so interested in using the failure of career analysts as a club to beat Blair (or Bush) with that this situation will never get the serious attention it deserves.
posted by ednopantz at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2004


Question - does that change anyone's opinions? I would assume not. Personally, if I found that everything I'd been told was a lie, and I'd formed my opinions based on what I'd been told, I'd be a little bit red faced, and I'd consider changing my opinions.

That refers to the lies spoonfed by Chalabi & defectors to MI6, and therefore the government.

Doesn't it?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:45 PM on January 28, 2004


I don't understand how any inteligent person can believe that Blair & Co deliberately put false information into the Iraq dossier, i.e. lied. If they had, what would their chance have been of not being found out - it was only ever going to be 6-months before the verdict was in.
posted by daveg at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2004


"BBC did get part of the story correct" -- current (20:45 GMT) strapline on BBC News 24...

I thank that tv technician for his humour in a tight situation!
posted by dash_slot- at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2004


Accept the judgement, this was no whitewash.

Blair was clearly shitting it beforehand, and had no idea what was going to come out of this. He was clearly a man under pressure. Today in parliament there was a palpable sense of relief on his face and one of utter dejection on Michael Howard's.

There is a further debate about how and why we went to war, but on the Kelly matter I think Hutton got it exactly right.
posted by johnny novak at 1:30 PM on January 28, 2004


Blair was clearly shitting it beforehand, and had no idea what was going to come out of this
If Blair was truly innocent of anything improper he would have no need to be "shitting it", as he would know that he would be totally exonerated.

I only wish Lord Hutton could come over to my place. I could do with some expert white-washing help :(
posted by kaemaril at 4:35 PM on January 28, 2004


kaemaril,

it was an unknow, and it is entirely possible to be in the right, but be scared that someone else, over whom you have no control, will find you in the wrong.
posted by johnny novak at 2:02 AM on January 29, 2004


As a generally uninterested observer, I can only hope that this report puts an end to the use of the word "sexed up"...
posted by Schnauzer at 2:11 AM on January 29, 2004


I don't understand how any intelligent person can believe that Blair & Co deliberately put false information into the Iraq dossier, i.e. lied.

Indeed. This thread kind of reminds me of the Kennedy assassination thread a while back... people seem to be too emotionally committed to the idea of Grand Conspiracy that only a Select Few can see through to consider an alternative.

Then as here, few people paid any attention to the link: they just say "the real issue is..." and launch into a pre-prepared spiel.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:40 AM on January 29, 2004


"That was the other dossier, Blue Stone."

Um, the 45 minute claim was in the Prime Minister's pre-amble to the dossiers. Although it was a different bundle of papers, it was the same body of evidence that was presented to make the case for war against Iraq.

Even if you want to call it a different dossier, which is fair enough, I don't think having it in a different dossier acts as some sort of barrier to dodginess or lack of ethics.
posted by Blue Stone at 2:54 AM on January 29, 2004


I don't understand how any intelligent person can believe that Blair & Co deliberately put false information into the Iraq dossier, i.e. lied.

Indeed. This thread kind of reminds me of the Kennedy assassination thread a while back... people seem to be too emotionally committed to the idea of Grand Conspiracy that only a Select Few can see through to consider an alternative.

Then as here, few people paid any attention to the link: they just say "the real issue is..." and launch into a pre-prepared spiel.


Interestingly, Hutton himself seems to not know what the real issue is cos he was at it too.

From the report:

However I consider that the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the Prime Minister to have a dossier which, whilst consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment.

And therein lies the meat of the complaint. "Subconsciously influenced"? The evidence submitted to the inquiry of constant memos from Campbell, a press secretary let us not forget and not your typical member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, asking for, or "suggesting", changes to the wording of the document seems to count as irrelevant.

Even if we're to stick to the meat of the title and pretend this whole thing was constituted as an appendix to the coroner's report, he doesn't actually say who released the name of David Kelly to The Times in the first place or why and how they did it.
posted by vbfg at 4:46 AM on January 29, 2004


This thread kind of reminds me of the Kennedy assassination thread a while back... people seem to be too emotionally committed to the idea of Grand Conspiracy that only a Select Few can see through to consider an alternative.

Thank the lord we have people like you who can see straight through to the crap and show us all the truth.

But seriously, you don't have to believe there was a conspiracy to think there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. As the famous quote goes "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity." Now as far as I'm concerned it does not make me feel better that my government behaved stupidly, incompetently or ignorantly rather than maliciously. If for example, the military accidently blew up a town it would not be sufficient for a judge to come to the conclusion that there was no malice and the army are jolly nice guys.

And of course while it's right to insist that the Hutton Report is not directly related to the absence of WMD's in Iraq, it does seem incongruous to see Alistair Campbell insist that he and the government told the truth when the proof has yet to be found.
posted by dodgygeezer at 5:07 AM on January 29, 2004


Director General Greg Dyke has also just resigned. Who the hell are they going to get to replace him?
posted by bonaldi at 6:09 AM on January 29, 2004


Johnny Novak:
kaemaril,

it was an unknown, and it is entirely possible to be in the right, but be scared that someone else, over whom you have no control, will find you in the wrong.

As both prime minister and a lawyer, Blair should know that if there is no evidence to find then no evidence can be supplied. Unless some is made-up, of course. But then we'd all been given to understand that Hutton was a completely impartial and fair observer. Everybody, INCLUDING the PM himself if memory serves, made a point of how fair and impartial he was.

This being the case, why on Earth should Blair have ANYTHING to fear? Unless, of course, there was evidence there...

Fortunately for Blair and Hoon Hutton seems to have assumed that the government are all jolly nice chaps who were quite sweet really, and it was all the fault of those bounders the BBC. I didn't get a good look at the spectacles he was wearing, but I'm assuming they were rose-tinted.

Nope, nothing untoward about releasing Kelly's name out to the press at all. Reporters playing "twenty questions" is perfectly normal, I'm sure...
posted by kaemaril at 10:54 AM on January 29, 2004



posted by vbfg at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2004


Three times as many people trust the BBC to tell the truth than trust the government despite Lord Hutton's damning judgment, an exclusive poll by ICM for the Guardian shows.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 PM on January 29, 2004


fallout at the BBC --there was a walkout last night.
posted by amberglow at 5:19 AM on January 30, 2004


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