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Lord Hutton leaves the WMD question unanswered

The official report into the death of Dr David Kelly, the British government expert who leaked the fact that the case for the war on Iraq was a lie, is being described as just another government "white wash".

Lord Hutton utterly failed to address any of the questions about the suspicious circumstances surrounding David's death. He also refused to address the to question of why the UK government invaded Iraq when they had no justification whatsoever for doing so. If the politicians think the public are going to fall for this extravagant ploy, they are most grievously mistaken.

Dr Rodrigues-Walsh, an expert in cases like Dr Kelly's who came to hear the report in person, was so surprised by Lord Hutton's verdict of suicide that she interrupted his speech to express her amazement in public. This remarkable incident went unreported by most mainstream media outlets, and not a single word of this vocal complaint was published.

Do not let this media sideshow distract you from the real issue. They lied, thousands died, and the oil and arms companies made billions. Life for the people of Iraq is measurably worse under the US puppet regime than it ever was under Saddam Hussein.

They told us Iraq had WMD to win our support for their war. But there were no WMD, and they knew it: http://www.thedebate.org


The Independent (UK), "Mr Blair's triumphalism is mistaken: this unbalanced report does not vindicate his decision to go to war", 29 January 2004.
[ http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=485628 ]
    Lord Hutton's report is a curiously unbalanced document. He opens by saying that no one could have contemplated that David Kelly would take his own life as a result of the pressures he felt, at which point he could have stopped. Several hundred pages later, blame has, by implication, been apportioned. What is extraordinary about the report is that it has all been allocated to one institution, the British Broadcasting Corporation. ...

The Guardian (UK), " Awkward questions still not answered by inquiry", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.guardian.co.uk/hutton/story/0,13822,1133811,00.html ]
    Lord Hutton open to accusations of cherrypicking evidence to support government case
    Lord Hutton confounded a widespread assumption among commentators that he was going to dole out criticism evenly between the government and the BBC. Instead, he came down overwhelming and unequivocably on the side of the government and against the BBC, blaming the corporation for the row that led to the death of the Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly.
    In the first few minutes of his opening statement at lunchtime yesterday to launch his report, Lord Hutton gave a clear sign of the direction in which he was headed.
    Dashing the hopes of the anti-war lobby, he opted for a narrow interpretation of his remit.
    Although much of the evidence he heard over the two months of the inquiry related to the events running up to the war in Iraq, especially whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, Lord Hutton concluded that "a question of such wide import, which would involve the consideration of a wide range of evidence, is not one which falls within my terms of reference".
    But Lord Hutton leaves himself open to accusations of having cherrypicked the evidence that supports the government case and sidelined that which supports the BBC. Awkward bits of evidence that do not fit his final conclusion are left lying around unanswered.
    He ignores the issue of the reliability of the intelligence in the government's dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction published on September 24, 2002.
    Instead, he focuses on the specific issue of the claim by the BBC Today reporter Andrew Gilligan in May last year that the government had tampered with intelligence to strengthen the case for war.
    The evidence of the BBC science correspondent Susan Watts, whose taped conversation with Dr Kelly corroborates much of Gilligan's report, is ignored.
    Lord Hutton said that he was initially inclined to be critical of the way that the government put Dr Kelly's name into the public domain, but that as evidence was presented he changed his mind.
    He said there was nothing inconsistent between the evidence of Sir Kevin Tebbit, the senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, who said the decision to issue a press statement was taken at a meeting at Downing Street chaired by the prime minister, and Mr Blair's denial that he had anything to do with the outing of Dr Kelly.

The Independent, "Demands grow for inquiry into the case for war as Hutton is accused of a 'whitewash'", 29 January 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=485689 ]
    However, Lord Hutton failed to settle the crucial question of whether Mr Blair took Britain to war in Iraq on a false prospectus. After he ruled that the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was beyond his terms of reference, the Tories and Liberal Democrats renewed their demands for an independent inquiry into the build-up to war.
    He also asked: "Are his conclusions on restricting the use of unverifiable sources in British journalism based on sound law and, if applied, would they constitute a threat to the freedom of the press in this country?" Mr Davies's comments reflected anger at the BBC at Lord Hutton's surprisingly strong criticism. One BBC insider described it as "an old man's report that is simply wrong".
    On Dr Kelly himself, Lord Hutton said the government scientist broke civil service rules by his unauthorised meeting with Mr Gilligan and said he was "not an easy man to help or to whom to give advice".
    In a final submission to Lord Hutton, published last night, the Kelly family said: "The Government made a conscious decision to cause Dr Kelly's identity to be revealed..."

The Independent, "His lordship looks down on our masters and takes their word for it", 29 January 2004.
[ http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/simon_carr/story.jsp?story=485673 ]
    Faced with whitewash of this quality it's impossible to curb one's instinct to cover it with graffiti. All right. One thing that Lord Hutton said. If the various components of the Government's action were looked at "in isolation", he told the court, "it would be possible to infer, as some commentators have done, that there was an underhand strategy by the Government to leak Dr Kelly's name to the press in a covert way".

CNN, "Hutton: Surprises to the end", 28 January 2004.
[ http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/01/28/hutton.color.otsc/ ]
    By now the 200 or so in the large, modern 3rd-floor courtroom surrounded incongruously by empty bookcases were rather hard to surprise. The script followed almost exactly a leak of the report in the morning's Sun tabloid, something Hutton deplored at the end of the hearing.
    The one part of Hutton's statement that brought audible gasps from the journalists in court was when he explained how he had changed his mind on whether the government had set upon a "dishonorable, underhand or duplicitous" strategy to leak Kelly's name to the press.
There was a brief intermission when one of the 11 members of the public rose to give the opinion that Kelly's death was murder.
    Patricia Rodrigues-Walsh, who describes herself as a criminal psychologist from London, is a veteran of the Harold Shipman ("Dr Death") inquiry hearings and confided her opinion that he was murdered, too.
    Hutton told her politely and firmly time was short, it was time to move on.

The Herald (UK), "The good lord provides Blair with a stake for a black heart", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.theherald.co.uk/extra/8928.html ]
    He [Michael Howard MP] called for a full inquiry into WMDs in Iraq. Cue Labour roars. He said spooks might have "subconsciously" been affected by the PM's zeal. (Groans.) He even dredged up a five-year-old report into the Hindujas. (Hisses, boos, toilet rolls etc.)
    Earlier, Lord Hutton delivered his verdict with only one interruption from a protester. No, not Andrew Gilligan, but Patricia Rodrigues-Walsh, a criminal psychologist who caused a small stir as she insisted Dr Kelly had been killed.
    Her theory was greeted with a polite "thank you" before, unperturbed, his lordship carried on. ...

The Scotsman (UK), "Leak Leaves Eager Public Feeling Deflated", 28 January 2004.
[ http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2463592 ]
    Journalists and members of the public eagerly piled into Court 76 at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London to hear what Lord Hutton had to say.
    Many present in court had hoped the extensive leak in The Sun was not the whole picture and something even more spectacular would be revealed.
    But the predicted condemnation of Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, former No 10 director of communications and strategy Alastair Campbell and even the Prime Minister himself never materialised.
    In fact, so unconcerned were they that the Government’s barrister Jonathan Sumption QC did not even bother to attend.
    There was palpable disappointment that the main political players appeared to have got away scot-free.
    For more than an hour and 20 minutes, Lord Hutton held forth before the hushed court, pausing only to take the occasional sip of water.
    Only once was the silence broken by an aggravated member of the public who remained convinced Dr Kelly was murdered last July.
    Rejecting Lord Hutton’s conclusion of suicide, criminal psychologist Patricia Rodrigues-Walsh caused a stir at the back of the room as she insisted the Government scientist had been killed.
    Her theory was greeted with a polite “thank you” by an unperturbed Lord Hutton, before he carried on with his conclusions.
    Speaking in his characteristically measured way, he raised laughter at one point by drily referring to The Times’s desperate bid to name Dr Kelly by flinging 20 names at the Ministry of Defence press office.
    With the threat of legal action, the retiring law lord gathered up his papers, and left – leaving a room full of reporters feeling strangely deflated.

The Independent, "How a judge's narrow remit allowed Government off hook on vital issue of case for war", 29 January 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=485683 ]
    Hutton identifies five key areas in Kelly affair, but No 10 escapes all censure over its role in the tragedy of a weapons scientist
    From virtually the first words he spoke, Lord Hutton made clear that he did not feel it was within his remit to assess fully the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction.
    The Iraq Survey Group is looking increasingly likely to rule that no weapons existed in Iraq, at least since the Gulf War in 1991. But for many people, while Labour MPs howled with relief in the Commons, this was the dog that didn't bark yesterday.
    Lord Hutton said that it was also not up to him to decide whether the intelligence in the dossier, including the 45-minute claim, was "unreliable" or not. He said twice that the issue was "a separate issue".
    Lord Hutton correctly pointed out that the allegation by Andrew Gilligan, the defence correspondent for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, was that the Government used such intelligence "knowing it to be untrue".
    But for many people, the reliability of some of the claims in the dossier are what really matter a good deal more than the row between the BBC and the Government. ...

The Independent, "WMD: Now it is Bush's turn to face uncomfortable truths", 29 January 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=485688 ]
    The Bush administration was in full retreat yesterday over its claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as the man with the task of uncovering that arsenal sought to shift the blame away from the White House and on to the intelligence community.

The Times (UK), "Hutton accused of producing 'whitewash' report", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-981737,00.html ]
    Lord Hutton was today accused of producing a "whitewashed" report into the Kelly affair, as the backlash against his findings began to gather pace.
    Sir Christopher's views seem to be reflected in an NOP poll released today. Half of those questioned said that the law lord was wrong to clear the Government of any "underhand and duplicitous" naming strategy.

A clear majority, 56 per cent, said the peer was wrong to lay all the blame at the door of the BBC.

His inquiry was branded a whitewash by 49 per cent, with 40 per cent disagreeing, in the survey for London's Evening Standard.

And a full independent inquiry into the reason Britain went to war with Iraq was supported by an overwhelming 70 per cent. NOP questioned 521 people.
    Air Marshal Sir John Walker, a former Chief of Defence Intelligence and former deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said the whole affair suggested that it had been a mistake to publish the Iraq dossier in the first place.
    Sir John told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "It is the first time in my experience that we have tried to use JIC as an organisation in a public relations exercise, publicly, with the Government, and it doesn’t look as though it has been a great success."
    "There is no doubt about it - we went to war on the basis that WMD capable of being used within 45 minutes were a threat to UK interests. We went to war on that basis, and they weren’t there."

The Times, "Judge fails to turn acerbic eye on Downing Street", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-981401,00.html ]
    It was left to the ill-concealed grin on the face of Tony Blair responding to the statement later in the House of Commons to say it all. As Michael Howard, the Tory leader, struggled to put the case against the Government that Lord Hutton had so conspicuously rejected, Mr Blair could afford to wrap himself in prime ministerial dignity.

    The exonerations came thick and fast: the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defence, and Downing Street spin-doctors, had all behaved correctly in briefing the press. Even Geoff Hoon, whose evidence to the inquiry had seemed so muddled and self-contradictory, was "not untruthful", and could be absolved of any blame for failing to protect Dr Kelly or control his own department.
    The infamous question-and-answer process by which Dr Kelly's name became known was justified because "it was better to be frank with the press and confirm the correct name if it was given". ...
    For those listening, there was an air of anti-climax. It may partly have been because The Sun had scooped him that morning by revealing chunks of his report - an act of betrayal which he condemned.
    It may also have been because of something else that was lacking. We had grown used, in the course of the inquiry, to Lord Hutton's laser-like interventions, whenever a witness was confused, contradictory, or less than honest. There was little of that on show yesterday. ...

The Times, "The Hutton verdict", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-981166,00.html ]
    There are other matters that will need to be resolved. A full coroner’s inquest into Dr Kelly’s death should be held, not least to dismiss some of the ludicrous conspiracy theories that have been floated. ...

The Times, "Hutton to appear before Commons committee", 29 January 2004.
[ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-981763,00.html ]
    Labour MP Tony Wright, the committee chairman, said: "I am delighted Lord Hutton has agreed to give evidence to the committee.
    "His inquiry has been innovative in the way it has worked...


The Guardian, "BBC buys up 'Hutton inquiry' Google links", 26 January 2004.
[ http://media.guardian.co.uk/bbc/story/0,7521,1130050,00.html ]
    Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.
    Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for "Hutton inquiry" or "Hutton report" on the UK's most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online's own news coverage of the inquiry.
    No other news broadcaster or any newspaper has paid Google for this facility, leaving the corporation's move even more conspicuous.
    It will also raise questions about the use of licence payers' money at a time when the corporation faces criticism for spending so much money online from private rivals including the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times newspapers.
    Through Google's Ad Words service advertisers can bid to buy up search terms that relate to their business. The more they bid, the higher up their link is shown on the right-hand side of the page next to Google's normal results sorted by relevancy.

The Independent (UK), "Bush and Blair 'distorted' Iraqi threat, says US weapons expert", 30 January 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=486007 ]
    Colin Powell's former chief weapons expert has accused Tony Blair and George Bush of failing to give an accurate picture of British and American intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
    Greg Thielman, a senior figure in the State Department until last year, told The Independent yesterday that the "political leadership" in both countries was responsible for the "distorted" impression given of the Iraqi threat.
    In a separate interview, Rolf Ekeus, a former head of Unscom, also blamed the heads of UK and US intelligence agencies for "trying to play up to their masters".
    Mr Thielman was the Director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and Military Affairs, based in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the State Department. He reported directly to General Powell.
    He told The Independent that the intelligence agencies in the UK and US both agreed the need for caution and caveats to claims about Iraqi weapons.
    [The threat of WMD was not 'distorted'. This is pure spin. There was no threat to distort. There was no evidence whatsoever of such a threat.]

The Independent, "This is the BBC... its leaders gone, its staff up in arms", 30 January 2004.
[ http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=486014 ]
    Lord Rees-Mogg, a former BBC vice-chairman, said: "I don't have any confidence in Hutton ... I have already come to the conclusion his evidence does not support his conclusions and that it is, put quite simply, a bad bit of work."
    In a separate development, Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxfordshire coroner, said he was ready to examine statements from witnesses who withheld their evidence from the Hutton inquiry and would ask Thames Valley Police to hand over the missing material. He will then consider Lord Hutton's report and decide within the next month whether to hold a full inquest into Dr Kelly's death.
    A poll found yesterday that a majority of people thought Lord Hutton's report was wrong to lay all the blame at the BBC's door. The poll, by NOP, showed 56 per cent thought the peer was wrong to blame only the BBC; 49 per cent said the report was a whitewash, with 40 per cent disagreeing.

The Guardian, "Dyke: Hutton 'wrong' and Campbell 'ungracious'", 30 January 2004.
[ http://media.guardian.co.uk/huttoninquiry/story/0,13812,1135108,00.html ]
    Mr Dyke, whose resignation yesterday in the wake of Lord Hutton's condemnation of the BBC caused shock waves at the corporation, said he believed the broadcaster was not the only one that made mistakes.
    "We have an opinion... there are points of law in there where he is quite clearly wrong.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 29 January 2004.

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Tags: Hutton, report, inquiry, death, Dr, Kelly, David Kelly, suicide, murder, assassination, government, weapons, expert, scientist, assassinated, whitewash, white, wash, , conspiracy theories.

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