Monday, 2 February 2004

The Hutton Report Leaves More Questions Than Answers

by Simon Aronowitz

Considering how fast events have moved recently in the political world, never mind the day-to-day `news' that we are bombarded with, it is necessary to recap what actually happened last May and June. This will help explain why Lord Hutton's apparent clearing the Blair government of any wrongdoing is considered by so many to be a "white-wash."

There was already considerable disquiet about how the country had been led to attack Iraq, with many arguing that intelligence had been fabricated or unreasonably promoted in order to justify an invasion.

Andrew Gilligan's controversial broadcast was made on May 29th 2003, the now infamous 6:07 am dispatch where he said that the source alleged that the government had "sexed up" the September dossier by including the 45 minute claim, knowing that it was probably wrong.

In subsequent broadcasts that morning, Gilligan's reporting was scripted and therefore much tighter, eliminating any reaching statements or veering away from putting words into his source's mouth. Gone was the accusation that the government had "sexed up" the report, now he was quoting his source as saying

"It was transformed in the week before it was published, to make it sexier. The classic example was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within forty five minutes. That information was not in the original draft. It was included in the dossier against our wishes, because it wasn't reliable. Most things in the dossier were double source, but that was single source, and we believed that the source was wrong."

Gilligan's subsequent article in the Mail on Sunday upped the stakes when he quoted his source as blaming Alastair Campbell for the embellishment of the intelligence information to provide an argument for going to war.

Gilligan's apparent revelation provided the ammunition that many had been seeking by way of concrete evidence that the government had sold the war on a lie.

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