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Passing The Buck

by | 2nd, February 2004

‘NO sooner has Tony Blair emerged with halo intact from the Hutton inquiry, he is facing yet another test of his integrity and all-round good blokeness.

‘Sure it fires water now, but with modifications, it could fire peas and even bits of nuclear material’

The announcement by the Americans yesterday of a full-blown investigation into the failure to find Saddam Hussein’s fabled weapons of mass destruction has left the PM isolated.

And, says the Guardian, although Downing Street is rejecting calls for a similar inquiry over here, it is preparing to make an acknowledgement about the failure to locate WMD.

President Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read: ‘The buck stops here.’

For President Bush and Tony Blair, the buck seems to stop anywhere but – and it appears that it is the intelligence services that will come in for greatest criticism.

David Kay, the head of the Iraq Survey Group who resigned last week, tells the Times that there was a sort of Chinese Whispers within the intelligence services with analysts’ reservations being dropped as data passed higher up the chain of command.

“There are caveats that clearly dropped out, dissenting opinions that clearly dropped out as you moved higher up and people read the headline summaries,” he said.

And in the Guardian, Leader Of The Commons Peter Hain says he saw unequivocal evidence that Iraq had WMD.

“That informed our decision to go and topple him,” he said. “I think we were right in doing so. But let’s wait and see what the jury finds in the end.”

Given that the Government is set against another inquiry, we are not quite sure what jury Mr Hain is referring to. But if it is the jury in the court of public opinion, the verdict may not prove to be to the Government’s liking.

While Blair prevaricates, President Bush’s tactic has been the not altogether difficult task of playing dumb, announcing on Friday: “I too want to know the facts.”

Perhaps something he might have concerned himself with prior to the invasion of Iraq.

However, the bigger question is where this seemingly massive failure of intelligence leaves the whole doctrine of pre-emptive action.

“Pristine intelligence is a fundamental benchstone [sic] for any sort of policy of pre-emption to be thought about,” Mr Kay told the Times.

And Mr Hain says the British Government is refusing to pre-empt the findings of the Iraq Survey Group by holding an inquiry before it has reported.

Given that its job is to find something that apparently isn’t there, its task is completely open-ended, meaning that an inquiry can be delayed indefinitely.

After all, if you were choosing your last meal as a condemned man, would you ask for your steak to be cooked rare or well-done?’



Posted: 2nd, February 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink