In following President Bush in his usual poodle-like fashion, the war criminal Tony Blair has approved the launch of an inquiry into Iraq's mysterious absence of weapons of mass destruction. And in so doing, he has appointed another notorious proponent of deceit, Lord Butler, to head up his planned "limited hangout".
Following in a long procession of cronies awarded peerages by the British Labour government, the Lord, in a previous incarnation as Sir Robin Butler, will always be remembered as the dutiful senior civil servant who proclaimed that governments have a right to lie where it is "convenient" to do so and that government ministers are not responsible for decisions made by their aides.
Oddly enough, he candidly made these admissions in the course of another Iraq-related controversy.
In November 1992, the trial of the directors of Matrix Churchill, a company thought to have breached a military export ban on the supply of "dual purpose" technologies to Iraq, collapsed in a spectacular fashion following revelations that the British government had played a duplicitous role in the affair and was prepared to see innocent men go to prison rather than admit its illegal practices. The "Inquiry into Exports of Defence Equipment and Dual Use Goods to Iraq" was established and
presided over by an icon of the establishment Lord 'Justice' Scott.
The Scott inquiry (which ended, predictably, as a whitewash) heard that the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, had eyed Saddam's regime as one providing "major opportunities for British industry" yet feared public reaction should his plans for the increased export of armaments be uncovered. "It could look very cynical if so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales," a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confessed to the Scott inquiry.
When questioned by Lord Scott about the culpability of government ministers in the outlawed dealings of their respective departments, Butler, in his capacity as Cabinet Secretary, replied: "Ministers should not have to resign for civil servants' mistakes of which they were unaware". Furthermore, he denied that ministerial accountability had anything to do with taking responsibility for mistakes or even outright lies. More shocking still, the man Blair has chosen to examine the government's handling of intelligence information in regard to Iraq, actually thinks that lying and excessive secrecy is "good government":
Lord Justice Scott: "In your experience of government . . . do you think there is anything in the proposition that the convenience of secrecy emphasis about what the Government is doing, because it allows government to proceed more smoothly without the focus of attack that might otherwise be levelled, does in practice inhibit the giving of information about what [the] government is doing?"
Sir Robin [now Lord] Butler: "You can call that a matter of convenience, if you like. I would call it a matter of being in the interests of good government".
Lies 'R' us, straight from the elegantly groomed horse's mouth.