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John Rentoul: Preparing for a whitewash

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Saturday, 21 November 2009 at 04:39 pm
The sweet Chris Ames personifies the anti-war paradox, that many of the people who were most vociferous in demanding a fifth inquiry into the Iraq war are most convinced that it will be, in their view, yet another "whitewash".

On his pre-emptive website, Iraq Inquiry Digest, he suggests that the inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot (right), which opens proceedings on Tuesday, cannot be independent because it is staffed by 19 civil servants, in an inversion of the usual Blair-haters' complaint that he compromised the pristine impartiality of the British mandarinate.

And Chris Lamb, one of his associates, elaborates that any official from the Cabinet Office cannot be independent of ministers because the department has sometimes refused Freedom of Information requests. (I think.)

Richard Norton-Taylor got his retaliation in even earlier, describing the Chilcot inquiry as "another Whitehall whitewash" five months ago. The exception is Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who wrote, before Sir John was even appointed, that no official inquiry into Iraq could be trusted - a position that is at least consistent: none of the four inquiries so far has produced the "right" answer, so therefore none will.

Pointless as it might be, the dear Yasmin has nevertheless signed (along with some other familiar names) a submission to the Chilcot inquiry, saying that they did not agree with the invasion of Iraq. The letter follows usual Blair-hater practice of referring to the former prime minister as Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, as if that makes it sound a bit more like a court document, thus sustaining the fiction that he may one day be "brought to justice".

All of which is grist to Nick Wagstaff's mill. He demanded a year ago, in a letter to The Independent, a sixth inquiry to establish why the previous inquiries have produced the "wrong" answer:

Not only should there be a public inquiry into the war but also a separate inquiry into the reasons for the conclusions of the report by Lord Hutton, which exonerated the Labour government. Let light be shone on that episode.


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