NO ONE TO BLAME –THE FINAL INSULT
How Blair sexed down the Report that laid blame for Iraq
fiasco at No10’s door.
Daily Mail, Monday, July
Downing Street succeeded in toning down direct criticism
of Tony Blair in last week’s report by Lord Butler on intelligence failings
over Iraq, it emerged yesterday.
In a remarkable tit-for-tat move, Lord Butler was ready
to cut the Prime Minister adrift by refusing to back him if he was asked by
reporters if Mr Blair should quit.
The extraordinary new twist to last week’s explosive
report will raise fresh questions about Mr Blair’s trustworthiness.
After receiving a draft copy of the Butler Report, Number10
asked for changes in a key passage which highlighted the gulf between the
Intelligence Assessment of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and
what Blair told MP’s in September 2002.
intense discussions the five-member Butler Committee did what Downing Street asked.
In one of the few passages that directly criticised the
Prime Minister, Butler reported that the September dossier left readers with
the impression that there was ‘fuller and firmer intelligence’ behind the
dossier than was the case.
went on: “The Prime Minister’s
description, in his statement to the House of Commons on the day of publication
of the dossier, of the picture painted by the Intelligence Services in the
dossier as extensive, detailed and authoritative”, may have reinforced this
original draft was much tougher and placed responsibility for this misleading
impression on the Prime Minister.
also appears that Lord Butler was ready to balance this concession by making no
attempt to come to Mr Blair’s defence.
While his report specifically said that John Scarlett,
chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee should not resign, despite
criticism of what he did, Lord Butler was prepared to offer no support to
the Prime Minister.
to sources close to the Inquiry
had resolved to say nothing in support of Mr Blair if asked at his press
conference whether the Prime Minister should resign.
the event, he was not asked the question.
Nevertheless, one member of the Inquiry team told the
Sunday Telegraph that Blair was not out of the woods yet.
‘The whole thing points
straight to the man in charge…absolutely to where responsibility belongs, which
is the Prime Minister, which is what we could not say.’
Despite Downing Street’s hopes of at last drawing a line
under the Iraq affair, anti-war Labour MP’s are calling for another Inquiry-the
fifth-into the conflict. They want the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to look
into the way crucial intelligence was withdrawn as unsound by M16 last July-yet
Lord Hutton’s Inquiry into the death of weapons expert David Kelly, was kept in
the dark about it.
Eric Illsley, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee,
said this information should have been made available.
‘It would suggest that the
Committee, Parliament and Lord Hutton were misled and in these circumstances we
are justified in taking a fresh look at it,’ he said.
His Labour chairman Donald Anderson has ruled out a new
Inquiry but Mr Illsley insisted:
‘This is a matter for the
Committee to decide. If a majority of members vote for a fresh Inquiry –then it
will take place’.
At the same David Kay, the former head of the Iraq
Survey Group, was delivering a devastating verdict on the reports by
Lord Butler and by the Senate Intelligence Committee in America.
think they are a scathing indictment,’ he told ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme.
think they are a picture of a broken system on both sides of the Atlantic, for
collecting intelligence, for analysing it and finally for sending it forward to
policy makers and to the public.’
said that Mr Blair and Mr Bush should both have realised that the intelligence
they were being presented with did not support the claims that Iraq actually
had weapons. [Font size adjusted]
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