the Disillusioned kid: What the Butler Saw
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Saturday, July 17, 2004

What the Butler Saw

Isn't democracy wonderful? It means that you are fully entitled to go and read reports examining the inner workings of government like the Butler Report. The whole thing's available online. Problem is it runs to 216 pages, which means printing costs are prohibitive and reading it all online didn't really appeal. You can probably buy one, but no doubt at great cost. Long story short: I've only read the Summary of Conclusions and Lord Butler's opening statement from the press conference onWednesday. Having got that far I don't have any great drive to go and read the rest as there's little of interest.
For the most part everything I'd want to say has already been said better by just about everyone else except The Sun (who apparently thought it showed Blair had acted in good faith, so there!). Basically it was 'sexed-up', people screwed up and Butler doesn't think anyone should take the blame. Not the whitewash of Hutton, but something of a pale (if murky) grey.
Incidentally I discovered while searching for the report on Wednesday night that some wag had hacked the site. The photo of the committee had been doctored so that they all had John Scarlett's face (he's the head of Joint Intelligence Committee who the authors of the report are insistent shouldn't lose his job). They'd altered the style selcetion facility to a spin cycle selector and added a search facility with "Iraqi WMDs" already in the field. When you clicked search it took you to a BBC News report where Blair conceded WMDs may never be found in Iraq. All in all, very impressive.
Returning to the report itself, the one thing I would point out is that reading what I've read (and presumably the rest of the report) it would be easier to forget the 'dodgy dossier', as no doubt many people have. You remember that? The one which included a plagiarised PhD thesis (caveats removed, language 'sexed-up' of course) complete with all the original mistakes. Strange how a review which ostensibly examines the presentation of pre-war intelligence on Iraq should negelect such a clear example of deliberate government misinformation. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
As an aside I think I'm going to take some time off from blogging about Iraq. Every man and his dog's writing about it and I'm not sure I can offer anything original or particularly insightful. In the meantime check out Juan Cole's blog. He's a professor of history specialising in the region and fluent in Arabic so he seems to know what he's talking about. For an alternative view, quite different to my own, check out what 'Combat Doc' a US soldier on the ground in Mosul has to say.


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