As I write the stenographers and checkers are still grappling with the transcript of today’s marathon session (which, when completed, will appear here). But surely one of the most-repeated words both in Tony Blair’s questioning and in his replies was ‘hindsight.’
With the benefit of hindsight. Speaking in hindsight. Would one change that in hindsight?
That same hindsight should have prepared Inquiry-watchers not to expect any truly dramatic twists or turns today. Mr.Blair has had not just one previous witness session but almost eight years to confirm for himself why (in his mind at the very least) the actions that he and President Bush embarked on were the right ones.
One by one the trapdoors apparently primed by recent Inquiry disclosures (such as this one) failed to fly open. read more
Author: |Posted: 6:18 pm on January 21, 2011
He’s back. Almost exactly one year after his first appearance, Tony Blair returns to the QEII conference centre this morning to face renewed questioning by Sir John Chilcot and the Iraq Inquiry panel.
And what a difference a year makes. Labour, the party whose government took the UK to war in 2003, is no longer even in power. And swathes of document releases by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks have encouraged us to question and analyse our political leaders’ actions and intents in an unprecedented way. read more
Author: |Posted: 9:10 am on
Chief correspondent Alex Thomson blogs from the Iraq Inquiry.
General Sir Richard Dannatt came before the Chilcot folk with their gentle, leisurely questioning of various people involved in what critics describe as the UK’s greatest foreign policy disaster of modern times.
Whether that is the case or not, it remains fascinating to watch the rather Earl Grey gentility of this process. Will it all be another anodyne whitewash or does there lurk, beneath the almost soporific pace and style, some kind of iron fist waiting in there, deeply hidden, to deliver the killer punch at some day long in the future?
Well, today has been very much nuts and bolts. Procurement in fact. read more
Author: |Posted: 2:12 pm on July 28, 2010
A fascinating haul of classified documents released yesterday shed new light on the legal shenanigans in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Among them, we see the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, setting down on 30 January 2003 that he believed war without a second UN resolution would be illegal. The next day, Blair met Bush and offered to support the US-led plan.
Blair scribbled on the margin of the attorney general’s letter that he didn’t “understand this”. Gary Gibbon has deciphered the marginalia – well worth a read.
The inquiry has also invited international lawyers to give their verdict on the legal basis for going to war.
Author: |Posted: 12:18 pm on July 1, 2010
“There’s a wonderful phrase: ‘the Fog of War.’ What the fog of war means is: war is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.” read more
Author: |Posted: 8:56 am on March 9, 2010
Gordon Brown becomes the highest-ranking witness to appear before the Iraq Inquiry tomorrow. Although as some commentators have observed he may on the face of it have less to answer for than his predecessor, the evidence that we have already heard throws up several key questions.
Mr Brown will be asked about his roles both as chancellor and as PM, but perhaps inevitably it is his time at Number 11 that looks set to dominate the session.
Did Brown’s Treasury weaken the Ministry of Defence’s ability to wage wars first in Iraq and subsequently in Afghanistan? read more
Author: |Posted: 4:17 pm on March 4, 2010
Interesting morning. On the face of it little of Sir Kevin Tebbit’s evidence was new. We had already heard from a bevy of defence secretaries and the Treasury’s top civil servant about the Whitehall turf-war in 2003 that led to huge MoD expenditure cuts.
What were damning today were the language and the detail. Chancellor Brown didn’t just cut the MoD’s spending, he “guillotined” it. Throughout his time at Defence Tebbit said he had been forced to run a “crisis budget.” (Governments don’t like the word ‘crisis.’ Oppositions do.)
Then came the casualty list, fleshed out with much more information than we’d ever heard before. Destroyers and frigates, Nimrod aircraft, submarines, helicopters, minesweepers, patrol vessels, AS90s, Challengers, tank squadrons, 10,00 civil servants, a reduction in headquarters size and more. read more
Author: |Posted: 6:47 pm on February 3, 2010
“What on earth are you going to do,” Sir Roderic boomed at a member of the Chilcot support team this morning, “now this is nearly over?”
“Not sure,” came the reply, “I was thinking maybe the Afghanistan inquiry?”
Which would perhaps have been funnier had John, sorry, Dr Reid not gone on to make the same joke during his evidence. On the basis of today’s session Dr Reid does for jokes pretty much what he says we the media do for the Greater Good. (Clue: not a lot.) read more
Author: |Posted: 5:31 pm on
Hard to say exactly what today’s highlight will be as we’ll be hearing consecutively from three different witnesses.
Sir Kevin Tebbit returns for a brief spin to round off evidence about his period as MoD Permanent Secretary 2001-05. read more
Author: |Posted: 6:11 am on