| ||Gordon Brown’s government secretly promised to “limit the extent of the Iraq war inquiry to prevent damage to the United States”, reveals one of the leaked US embassy cables from WikiLeaks.|
From The Independent:
“A message from Jon Day, then director-general for security at the Ministry of Defence, reassured American officials that ‘the UK had put measures in place to protect [US] interests during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war’.”
“A separate document makes clear that Sir John Chilcot, who is chairing the investigation, felt his inquiries were being hampered. He expressed ‘frustration’ that he was unable to refer to relevant documents during his questioning of Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General.”
“Originally, Mr Brown wanted the evidence to be heard in private, but he was forced to back down in the face of public and political anger. He had promised that the inquiry team would have full access to all the relevant intelligence material that did not jeopardise national security. But additional restrictions were imposed, including any disclosure of information that undermined Britain's economic interests.”
“There are also restrictions on data protection concerns, commercial sensitivities and fears that an individual's safety could be put in peril.”
The revelations will add fuel to the arguments that already questioned the credibility of the Chilcot inquiry, which was announced in June 2009, to identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict.
Shortly after its start, Sir Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya, criticised the composition of the committee members. He noted:
“None is a military man, Sir John Chilcot was a member of the Hutton inquiry and has been closely involved with the security services, Baroness Prashar has no relevant experience, Sir Roderic Lyne was a serving ambassador at the time of the war, and so on.”
”Rather less attention has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war.”
He also noted that one of the historians, Sir Martin Gilbert, “at least has a record of active support for Zionism.”
The damage to the credibility of the Iraq war inquiry also damages Britain’s image and moral authority, leaving it open to charges of hypocrisy. How can one possibly advise others to observe rules of law, practice accountability and transparency if you do not put those values in to practice yourself? The effectiveness of the inquiry is also put in to doubt. When the inquiry itself is hampered, what will be the value of any lessons drawn from it?
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