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Iraq War Inquiry – Cabbie behind 45 min claim

December 8, 2009

Spin can't save you now.

As you will all probably be aware here in the UK the Iraq War Inquiry is currently in full swing. Many of us are waiting eagerly to see how many times Tony Blair invokes the “National Security” line to ensure his testimony will be behind closed doors when he sits down in the new year.

However in the past couple of weeks there have been some fantastic revelations. Most are not a major surprise to those of us who saw the Iraq War as a dubious invasion, with dubious claims, designed to ride on the current wave of fear following the September 11 attacks.

What makes these claims incredible is that, without fail, all the fears those of against the war had, those who stood up and tried to recant against the propaganda machine of George W. Bush et al, were justified.

The BBC, through Andrew Gilligan, showed that claims about 45 minute launches were “sexed up” by the government. Although Gilligan was guilty of using his own words to paraphrase those of Dr David Kelly, the weapons inspector, Gilligan was right. The Hutton Report tried to dismiss out of hand Gilligan and the BBC, and eventually exonerated the Government in what has now been established by many as a “whitewash”.

But he said the allegation reported by Mr Gilligan that the government had “sexed up” the dossier with a claim about Iraq’s weapons capability it knew to be untrue, was “unfounded“.

In 2008, following an High Court ruling to release the information under the Freedom of Information Act, it was shown that spin doctors were leading the drawing up of the September dossier and the 45 minute claim had been inserted by those eager to push forth the call for war.

“Information has been placed before us, which was not before Lord Hutton, which may lead to questions as to whether the Williams’ draft in fact played a greater part in influencing the drafting of the dossier than has previously been supposed.”

Now, it has been revealed that the claim that Saddam could launch a chemical attack in 45 minutes was the claim of a cab driver, whose claim was not verified and used against the advisement of intelligence officials.

Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesend Kent and author of a paper entitled “The Failure of British Political and Military Leadership” says, as has been reported by the BBC:

In it, he said the claim that Saddam could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45-minutes arose as British intelligence were “squeezing” agents in Iraq for information, under pressure from Downing Street to back up its case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“The provenance of this information was never questioned in detail until after the Iraq invasion, when it became apparent that something was wrong,” he said.

“In the end it turned out that the information was not credible, it had originated from an emigre taxi driver on the Iraqi-Jordanian border, who had remembered an overheard conversation in the back of his cab a full two years earlier.”

Mr Holloway stated that an intelligence analyst had at the time flagged up – via a footnote – that the claims were “demonstrably untrue”.

“Despite this glaring factual inaccuracy… the report was characterised as reliable,” he said.

We went to war on a lie – a series of lies. So many voices tried to speak out against the war drums that were banging at a collosal and deafening rate, but anyone who tried to speak out against the war and the intelligence that was used were seen as terrorist sympathizers – especially if you listen to right wing press.

The Lord Butler report in 2004 concluded “that the limitations of the intelligence were not “made sufficiently clear”, that important caveats had been removed and that the 45 minutes claim was “unsubstantiated” and should not have been included without clarification.” And yet still at that time, no one was brought to book on it. Meanwhile the press were curbed in what they could say following the ruling by Hutton that the BBC had lied about the “sexed up” claim.

Lives have been and are still being lost following the mighty “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq. Just today it was announced that a bomb has gone off in Baghdad near the “Green Zone”, killing at least 127 people. And that is just the innocent civilians caught up in this.

Many of our soldiers died, for a lie. And I find it even more abhorrent that some of the intelligence was based on the word of a cabbie who supposedly heard something in the back of his cab two years before shock and awe.

What annoys me the most is that the Iraq War Inquiry will not be pointing fingers and will not have the power to seek criminal prosecutions, instead it will be looking into lessons to learn.

When lies so blatant are being revealed day after day in this inquiry, how can anyone allow there not to be criminal proceedings?

To follow the Iraq War inquiry:

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