If you were unaware of the facts and the results of previous inquiries, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the latest one in the UK is somehow or other producing startling revelations that clearly implicate the then British government in lying to justify the invasion of Iraq and the deposing of the mass murdering Saddam Hussein.
As John Rentoul from The Independent makes clear however, (and gee, it must be a lonely gig at the Indie to be the voice of reason!), nothing could be further from the truth.
Just last night on the news there was the breathless reporting about how one piece of intelligence received just before the invasion indicated that Saddam might not be able to deploy the weapons he was believed to have.
One report amongst many often contradictory ones about which value judgements had to be made that he may not possess a capability!
But to listen to the reporter carry on, you'd think that a previously hidden smoking gun had been uncovered.
Except of course the current inquiry is simply dealing with exactly the same material as the Butler Inquiry did back in 2004.
David Grossman was terribly excited on Newsnight last night about all the “revelations” from yesterday’s session, but as he listed them each could be ticked off from the Butler report of 2004.
The story that best fitted the anti-war narrative was probably the “Mandarins reveal that 10 days before Iraq invasion PM knew Saddam couldn’t use WMDs”. Or, as the Daily Mail headlined it across a two-page spread: “Blair lied and lied again.” Or, in the real world: “Daily Mail lies and lies again.” (Not that the l-word is desirable.)
None of this is new, and none of it is clear-cut, as the Inquiry witnesses made clear. Some of the intelligence suggested Saddam’s biological and chemical weapons had been dismantled, some suggested that it had not. All of it suggested that Saddam had stocks of illegal weapons material which, if not immediately usable, could be rendered so.
Other examples are here and here.
For the record, Harry's Place is a Left-wing British blog, closely associated with the Labour Party.
And I reckon those who were disappointed that the Butler Inquiry failed to find any evidence of a conspiracy to go to war in Iraq, (I'd remind people that Saddam Hussein was put into the cross hairs by the Clinton Administration, not that of George Bush - it was Bill Clinton who signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law), are going to end up being similarly disappointed with the current one.
Not that the lack of evidence will convince the true believers.