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Thread: Blair Cleared

  1. #1
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    I'm sure U.K. members have seen the story by now:

    Blair Cleared in Kelly Flap; BBC Chairman Resigns

    Wednesday, January 28, 2004

    LONDON — A judge cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration Wednesday of any direct involvement in the suicide of a government expert on Iraqi weapons, but criticized the BBC for its reporting of the scandal that shook the British leadership.



    The chairman of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s board of governers resigned hours after the report was issued by appeals judge Lord Hutton , who was appointed by Blair to investigate the death of weapons expert David Kelly.

    Hutton concluded the government did not act in a "dishonorable, underhand or duplicitous" way in revealing Kelly's identity.

    Hutton said he was satisfied that nobody involved in the matter could have foreseen that Kelly would take his own life. He killed himself after being identified as the anonymous source of the BBC report accusing the government of exaggerating claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to bolster support for war.

    Blair welcomed Hutton's "extraordinary, thorough, detailed and clear" report and demanded the BBC withdraw its allegation he misled the country over Iraqi weapons.

    "The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie," Blair said in the House of Commons. "And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly."

    BBC chief executive Greg Dyke accepted that "certain key allegations" in its report were wrong and the BBC apologized. But he said the network had never accused the prime minister of lying.

    Gavyn Davies, chairman of the BBC's board of governors, announced his resignation, and the governors said they accepted it "with great reluctance and regret."

    "I have been brought up to believe that you cannot choose your own referee, and that the referee's decision is final," Davies said.

    The nationally televised report by Hutton after gathering months of evidence appeared to exonerate Blair after the biggest crisis of his seven years in office. The BBC report had challenged his integrity and the case he had made for British forces to join the war in Iraq. The scandal also damaged the BBC's reputation.

    Hutton said the BBC report that Blair's government had manipulated its intelligence in an official dossier about Iraq's weapons was unfounded. He specifically rebutted the BBC report that the government had "sexed up" the dossier to bolster its argument for the war in Iraq.

    "I am satisfied that none of the persons whose decisions and actions I later describe ever contemplated that Dr. Kelly might take his own life. I'm further satisfied that none of those persons was at fault in not contemplating that Dr. Kelly might take his own life," Hutton said on national TV as he read from his 328-page decision.

    "Whatever pressures and strains Dr. Kelly was subjected to by the decisions and actions taken in the weeks before his death, I am satisfied that no one realized or should have realized that those pressures and strains might lead him to take his own life," Hutton said.

    In his report, BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan said a government statement that Iraqi forces could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was based on false intelligence that officials knew was unreliable.

    "Whether or not at some time in the future the report on which the 45-minute claim was based was shown to be unreliable, the allegations reported by Mr. Gilligan on 29 May 2003 that the government probably knew that the 45-minutes claim was wrong before the government decided to put it in the dossier was an allegation that was unfounded," Hutton said.

    Hutton sharply criticized the publicly funded BBC's "defective" handling of Gilligan's story, saying editors had failed to properly check the reporter's allegations and did not properly investigate the government's complaints about his report.

    The judge criticized the BBC's Board of Governors for failing to fully investigate the criticism of Gilligan's report and would have probably discovered it to be unfounded if they had.

    "If they had done this, they would probably have discovered that the notes did not support the allegation that the government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was probably wrong," Hutton said.

    Hutton criticized the board "for failing to give proper and adequate consideration to whether the BBC should publicly acknowledge that this very grave allegation should not have been broadcast."

    The judge also said that Kelly had acted improperly by privately meeting with Gilligan and had breached rules regarding government employees contacts with the media because he hadn't been given permission from his superiors for such a meeting.

    Critics had accused the government and Blair personally of cynically exposing Kelly to massive media scrutiny, thereby contributing to his death. Kelly's body was found near his home in a rural area in July, his left wrist slashed.

    Hutton said the government acted "reasonably" in confirming Kelly's identity after he told his superiors he was probably the source of Gilligan's story. Kelly, however, denied telling Gilligan the 45-minute claim was false.

    The judge said the government would have been guilty of a coverup if it had tried to conceal Kelly's identity.

    "The issuing of the statement was not part of a dishonorable or underhand or duplicitous strategy to leak Dr. Kelly's name covertly in order to assist the government in its battle with the BBC," Hutton said.

    While largely exonerating the government's handling of the matter, Hutton said Defense Ministry officials could have given Kelly more help when they confirmed his identity to the media. But Hutton said Kelly was an intensely private man and "not easy to help."

    The judge agreed with an expert witness that a loss of self esteem and feelings of despair might have contributed to Kelly's suicide.

    Hutton also dismissed as inaccurate a claim by Gilligan that Alastair Campbell, then Blair's director of communications, had been responsible for allegedly hyping the intelligence dossier.

    "What the report shows very clearly is the prime minister told the truth, the government told the truth, I told the truth," Campbell said. "The BBC, from the chairman and the director-general down, did not."

    Hutton pored over documents, e-mails, official minutes and extracts from Campbell's personal diary, which provided insights into the interplay of politics and policies at the highest level.

    Hutton's hearings, lasting most of August and September, transfixed the country, which remains deeply divided about Blair's decision to back the U.S. attack on Iraq.

    The retired chief U.S. weapons inspector, David Kay, said last week that he concluded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, which were the basis of Blair's case for war.


    Any thoughts?

    Do you feel this investigation is conclusive?
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
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    It's an utter whitewash in the same vein as the Scott Inquiry.

    Evidence in the public domain disproves quite a few of his findings (such as Blairs statement on a plane to Japan and subsequently released documents, Campbells statements and his email records, MoD statements and subsequent evidence) and most people (especially the BBC) are rather stunned at the audacity of his judgements given the evidence we have.

    Of course none of this is unexpected to those who remember Scott.

    David Kay's interviews recently add even further to the proof that the basis of the original BBC Today article was correct.

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Illuminati's Avatar Simple Bystander BT Rep: +7BT Rep +7
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    Seen the story? It's all over the fecking press here!

    Personally, something seems a bit iffy about it but I can't put my finger on it - No, this time it isn't being anti-Blairite. The fact that the BBC got roasted and the government got away clean doesn't feel right for some reason

    <shrugs> Maybe it&#39;s to do with the pass of the University Top-Up Fees Bill


  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    lynx's Avatar .
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    To quote Tony Bliar:

    "Regarding the September 24 dossier, it has been shown that no intelligence was inserted".

    That&#39;s hardly surprising, it seems that there never was any intelligence in it from the start. The document was phrased in such a way that it maximised the case for war. How Hutton can say that it was not "sexed up" is unbelievable.
    .
    Political correctness is based on the principle that it's possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
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    The fact that an enquiry into how things were leaked to the BBC, was leaked to the Sun before it&#39;s official release just about sums it up for me.

    There are now calls for an enquiry into how the leaks happened this time.

    A feckin fiasco.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    Biggles's Avatar Looking for loopholes
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    At 328 pages it is a comprehensive report and says a number of things.

    The BBC were clearly at fault in so much as Gilligan was a sloppy journalist who had been given good information by Dr. Kelly and then proceeded off in the wrong direction tilting at windmills. His line manager’s failure to check his notes and also happy to take his account at face value, whilst meeting the modern ethos of trust and empowerment, was perhaps a little short sighted - especially as he had caused concern in this area before.

    Hutton notes that there are two readings of the expression sexed up, one implying false window dressing the other highlighting good points and downplaying negatives. He actually says in his report that the dossier was sexed up in the latter sense and that Campbell had a hand in this. What he says though is that the dossier was a political document supporting the Governments position and that such manipulation of the facts in this way is not untoward for such a purpose whereas the former sense would be. The problem being, Dr. Kelly was also talking about the latter and Gilligan made it sound like the former.

    From about page 220 through to 225 one gets a flavour of what the MoD put Dr Kelly through and in my view the unrecorded hell of those early grillings have much to do with his depression and probable suicide. I say probable because I believe it probably was, but there is, I suppose, an outside chance of foul play.

    Dr. Kelly had talked to more than one journalist and was clearly unhappy with the way the government was approaching the whole issue of WMD. The department tends to get bent out of shape about this kind of behaviour and reverts to most un-modern management styles very easily in such circumstances.

    On the whole, I tend to agree with Robin Cook. This whole sorry incident is a personal tragedy for the Kelly family and has completely overshadowed the bigger issues as to the quality of pre-war intelligence as a whole. Begging the question, did we really need to stop UN inspections and go to war?

    Iraq and the ME are a work in progress. I think it will be a number of years before those questions are answered. However, the argument that Saddam was a bad man thus justifying the war is to my mind a tad weak. His atrocities occurred during a war we encouraged nearly 20 years ago and then in suppressing a revolt we encouraged but failed to support 13 years ago. His current nastiness was little different to that of dozens of other tin pot dictators. The idea that Iraq as a military force presented any danger to the West is laughable (or at least the soldiers I spoke to before the war held their sides and guffawed as only British Officers can). The references to 9/11 are entirely spurious, there wasn&#39;t a single Iraqi on those planes (or Afghani for that matter) they were all Egyptian and Saudi (our two friends in the region.)

    However these are entirely personal observations, I am not that interested in getting into a long debate about Iraq. We can&#39;t turn back the clock, the war happened (and is still happening to those caught up in the daily bombings and shootings). We can only hope to steer a passage that will allow us to leave in an orderly manner and also allow a stable ME to flourish: be that one Iraq or a number of splinter states. In order to do so, however, is going to take more coalition blood and a lot of coalition money.

    Apologies for this being a bit on the long side, the latter part also sounds a bit more strident than I actually feel, but I thought I would return the whole Dr Kelly thing back to the original issue. which is probably as fitting a tribute to one of the leading experts in WMD as I can think of.
    Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum


  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Biggles-

    That was, as long posts go, worthwhile.

    Well done-as usual.

    J&#39;Pol-

    Do you think another inquiry is imminent?

    Is there an agency/entity appropriate to the task?

    Illuminati-

    Something does seem a bit fishy, at least insofar as there is not enough guilt to go &#39;round, so to speak.

    I don&#39;t recall when last I heard a determination so one-sided (not that it&#39;s beyond the realm of possibility-just can&#39;t remember a similar imbalance of finding).

    The mere fact of the Beeb&#39;s substantial guilt must be a bit disconcerting; they seem to have greeted the result with hat-in-hand.

    That alone is an awfully odd circumstance.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    lynx's Avatar .
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    Both the Chairman of Governors Gavin Davies and Director General Greg Dyke have resigned. At least they have some integrity.

    Given the evidence presented to the inquiry, I would have expected at least some resignations at the top of government. Obviously no integrity there, but that seems to be par for the course for many Labour MPs, particularly Scottish ones.
    .
    Political correctness is based on the principle that it's possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    Rat Faced's Avatar Broken
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    The staff at some BBC buildings walked out as they couldnt believe how "white" the whitewash was, they take pride in what they do...as can be shown by the resignations at the top.

    Its not often that senior people have the "honour" to do that these days (inc Government Ministers).

    Like Illuminati i find the whole thing suspicious...its too clean, if you know what i mean. A lot of people that now dont believe a word of it would have, if some dirty laundry had been discovered, as we all know that its there. There is too much in the Public Domain to deny it.

    The biggest thing saying "Coverup" however is the number of people in the Commons (including former Cabinet Ministers) that are shaking their heads in disbelief...publicly.

    Either Blair has masterminded a grand play in politics (again) or the Investigative Journalists are going to have a field day in a couple of months (or maybe less).

    While i could believe that the Gilligan Report was sexed up as much as the Intelligence Report itself, i find it impossible to believe that the Government has got off "Blameless"...after they leaked Dr Kelly&#39;s name to the press, and as said earlier...the MOD are not exactly models of modern Management methods. The stress that he was under from these 2 things alone would have been causing a huge amount of stress and depression, and to say it didnt contribute to his commiting suicide (if thats what happened) is laughable.

    An It Harm None, Do What You Will

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    This all begs the question, then:

    Whence good information?

    It points up the need to take information (wherever it may be found) and parse it logically and common-sensically.

    I am well aware the BBC has it&#39;s fans here, but the bottom line is this-

    If it is indeed true that this "whitest of white washes" has taken place, and Blair is claiming an unalloyed victory while the Beeb is left to lick it&#39;s wounds, then the damage has been done, and the Beeb has lost it&#39;s highly touted credibility.

    In a heretofore impossible turn of events, the British government has bent the Beeb over the barrel and buggered it, and the BBC shall remain suspect until it is off the government/public trough.

    I have very specific memories of statements made here to the effect that the BBC was impervious to government influence because it was funded by the government (a circumstance and belief I cannot quite wrap my mind around); now, the government is suspected of influencing a "white-wash" exonerating the PM and his administration.

    In the states, the "Old Gray Lady" claimed the factual high ground (as the paper of record) for years before the events of the past year demonstrated the "lady" had no clothes, and regardless of what some here think, the government could never twist the reins of the New York Times in a million years.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

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