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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Friday, August 29, 2003

Tony, it must be said, handled himself well during the testimony he gave yesterday at the Hutton Inquiry. Not to be unexpected, considering the man is a barrister, and had already been offered a clear field by the sacrificial blocks offered by Geoff Hoon, and Alastair Campbell.
But those who watched the Prime Minister as he spoke, made mental note of the occasional pause, the fleeting looks to above, when certain issues were raised, the likes of his involvement with the release of Dr.Kelly's name to the media, and his assessment of the '45 minute attack' capability intelligence suggested Saddam posessed..
The media here agrees Tony's staked his political carreer on the outcome of this Inquiry..The Telegraph' noted that Tony 'took the honourable way' is accepting the buck stopped on his desk when it came to the nameing of David Kelly..
But the Times noted Tony had, at times, a 'cold and unfeeling' attitude, as though this entire scenario, emotions and gestures included, had been practiced..
'It's a matter of trust..' in Tony's words..
What's is perhaps being overlooked in all the high profile testimony and the excitement over this rare glimpse into the grey world of Whitehall, is the fact that what has emerged from this inquiry so far, is a picture of a government where key decisions have been made by groups of friends, without official notes being taken.
A government in which even a Cabinet Minister was cut out of the loop when information of the utmost importance was being 'spun'..
A government of cronies, the antithesis of what 'New Labour' proclaimed itself to be when Tony swept into power..
The star witnesse so far has not been Tony, but Geoff Hoon. His admissions will have reverberations for years. Another was John Scarlett, who's Intel Services will be raked..
Tony's performance was polished, for the most part assured, and entirely contrived.. but then we expect that, even admire a good rendition, from those we choose to govern us..
Ahh.. as a post script. Interesting the Globe and Mail, in it's morning edition, makes the claim that Dr. Kelly was a suicide..
To quote..
"Dr. Kelly, a soft-spoken scientist unaccustomed to the public glare, slit his wrist after he had appeared before two parliamentary inquiries and had been covertly identified by Ministry of Defence press officers as the mole behind the BBC stories..."
A tad presumptuous, that.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

One mentioned previously.. a day for anniversaries.
The last time a British Prime Minister was called before a Parliamentary Investigation was nine years ago. At that time, John Major was asked to come along and answer some rather pointed questions for the Scott Inquiry, about the British role in clandestine sales of arms to, of all places, Iraq.
John was pushed to explain how embargo's so firmly set in place, could be so easily circumvented by arms dealers working out of the Home Counties..
It was not a pleasant experience, and not long after, Tony took over at No.10..
It's Tony's turn today.
As he himself said, 'it's a matter of trust'.
One is beginning to wonder at the clout the Hutton Inquiry itself might weild.. the questions and answers from those called so far, have been low-key, and dealing for the most part with the assignation of blame, for the pressure brought to bear on D. David Kelly, which may or may not to have led to what is being called his 'apparent suicide' some 7 weeks ago.. One wonders when some questions will arise, which will call for disclosure of someone else's name, and what that denoument might have for that, or those individuals involved...
Tony's under the gun.
But still, he and his have caused most of those who work, for what was thought to be the country's interests in the back rooms, to seriously consider the safety in being involved in thinktanks..
When the hand that feeds you, bites you..
We'll continue with this..
It was a hot, long summer in 1963.
President Kennedy was keeping the world awake with the serve-and-volley game with the USSR, people were still seriously looking at plans for back-yard bomb shelters, and we in Southwestern Ontario were aware that something was stirring in the States below us...
It was a decade of protests, and if one who was there was asked, perhaps they would say that this was the day, the very day, that the true American protest movement was born..
Martin Luther King, a name still not yet famous, had led a quarter of a million marchers on this day 40 years ago, to the steps of the Washington Monument, where he delivered the speech which follows..
A day for anniversaries..

"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
And so we've come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we've come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.
Trials and tribulations
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights: "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied and we will not be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
The dream
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning: "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.
But not only that.
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Interesting, as the people who each had their own small piece of the puzzle are brought together, to be asked a series of questions which will, if followed to it's end, reveal the entire picture, as only a very few have seen it..
Dr David Kelly told a UK diplomat he would probably be "found dead in the woods" if the UK invaded Iraq, the Hutton inquiry has heard...
David Broucher, the UK's permanent representative on the disarmament conference in Geneva, said the scientist made what at the time he regarded as a "throwaway remark" in February. It was only when he heard that Dr Kelly had been found dead in Oxfordshire woodland last month that Mr Broucher thought the comment might be more significant...
One might think that in truth, such a 'throwaway comment' would have taken on much more weight four weeks ago, but then Mr.Boucher also has his head, figuratively speaking, on the block..and might have well taken some time for sober thought before bringing it to light.
Some senior officials will without doubt, be looking for something to help them get a couple of hours of unbroken sleep these nights..

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Hutton Inquiry continues.. with Alastair Campbell offering to 'bite the bullet' for his Prime Minister.. but such an act might not be necissary.. Tony would appear to be in this that deeply, that even the symbolic seppuku of his media rep might not pull him back from the brink of political disaster..
This has been a subject of much sub rosa discussion among those who worked, if not with, then in the same capacity as Tom Kelly.. we all of us note the conditional 'apparent suicide' references every time our confrere's name is mentioned..
And today..Tony's most senior aide told intelligence chiefs their draft dossier failed to demonstrate "an imminent threat" from Iraqthat the comment, in an e-mail from Downing Street chief of staff Jonathan Powell, was written just one week before the controversial dossier on Iraqi weapons was published on 24 September last year...
'A matter of trust', were Tony's own words..
Other key points to emerge on the fifth day of Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly were:
Documents showed it had been decided by 5 September to restructure the dossier "as per TB's discussion".. an apparent reference to the prime minister..
A Downing Street spokesman described the row with the BBC over the Iraq dossier as a "game of chicken"..
Mr Powell said Number 10 had not considered the pressure that Dr Kelly would face after he was named..
The head of the Ministry of Defence press office said it was the ministry which made the decision to confirm Dr Kelly's name..
Sir David Manning said BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan's report "was seen as a pretty direct attack on the integrity of the prime minister"..
Ahh what a tangled web we weave..
Once can't wait to put one's own small pieces of the puzzle on the table..
One also wonders at the cost, both already incurred, and those implied..

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The weather's returning to what would be called normal for this time of year, and the Mediterranian ambiance of the pub has evaporated,.. still though the public house philosophers take this in stride..
The talk is centering about two distinct topics.. those being the surreptitious melding of church and state in both the UK and the US, and the depth to which the Hutton Inquiry will actually delve..
The former is a concern for all those in attendance, with thoughts of the Reformation.. Cromwellian Greycoats.. last call at 10:30..
A deep concern that such is happening here, but an even deeper concern with the trend in the US.
The Homeland Security Act has brought out images of Harry Anslinger, McCarthy, Hoover.. and while it would be an inconvenience for Britons to deal with Tony's proposals, there is no doubt if they grew to any proportion near concern, it would be dealt with. Oddly enough, Britons will not tolerate fools gladly, and will act when pushed far enough..
Different matter in the States though. Religion..'faith' perhaps would be a better word, has been a cornerstone of most of those who came into the melting pot.. 'faith' still has tremendous power in the States, far more than it does in timeworn and cynical Britain..
And the States, could in the aftermath of the Middle East, withdraw into a state of isolationism..
Britain stands on the razors edge here.. Politically and economically bound to the present terms of membership in the EU, and in the same situation with George..
As though being pulled in two directions wasn't enough.. Tony's got his own appearance before Lord Hutton to consider, and what his responses could mean in determining his political future... and the current level of trust he enjoys with the British public..
What Tony faces while in harness with George and bicxkering with Chirac, are matters which can be planned in terms of years.
What Tony faces in the next few weeks, is effectively Tony's Watergate..
There have been some 'wide decisions' made, as cant would have it here..
It was about this time of the morning, when most of Berlin slept, that East German troops went about the business of dividing the city, and building the Berlin Wall. There were some, on that night 42 years ago, who were kept awake, while the original six-foot barbed wire barrier was unrolled..
There are some awake tonight, as walls are quickly being erected in many minds, in many countries, as the Hutton Inquiry gets to the journalists tomorrow... the mental cacophony it's providing, and the segmenting it's effecting, could even outshadow the sound of jackboots..
Meanwhile, as the average Scot becomes accustomed to drinking al fresco at home, there appears to be a lassitude appropriate to the heat.
Some are thinking a decade or so ahead though, planning the new Costa del Saltcoats.. after all's said, if global warming's an inevidability, there might as well be some profit in it..

Monday, August 11, 2003

It was now that Dr Kelly began to feel uncomfortable.
Back in the office the following Monday, 30 June, Dr Kelly's colleagues were talking about the foreign affairs committee hearings. The turning point came when a colleague pointed to Mr Gilligan's claim that his source had said it was "30 per cent likely" that Iraq had a chemical weapons programme in the six months before the war, and that though it was "more likely" there were biological weapons, it would have been reduced "because you could not conceal a larger programme. The sanctions were actually quite effective; they did limit the programme." These were, the colleague noted, the precise phrases used by Dr Kelly in discussions with colleagues.
David Kelly realised the game was up. He confessed to his bosses that he might be the source for some of the information - but not all of it. And not the damaging detail on the "45-minute" claim. It was a high risk strategy, but being accused by someone else would have been worse. He might have been charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. His career was at risk. And so, possibly, a year from retirement, was his pension. They might prevent him from going to Iraq that weekend to join the Iraq Survey Group which was hunting for evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
Dr Kelly wrote that day, 30 June, to his immediate boss, and said he thought he might have been the source of some, but crucially not all, of the Gilligan story. His letter said he had met the BBC reporter whose description of his meeting with his source "in small part matches my interaction with him, especially my personal evaluation of Iraq's capability".
But that was all.
He wrote: "I can only conclude one of three things. Gilligan has considerably embellished my meeting with him; he has met with other individuals who truly were intimately associated with the dossier; or he has assembled comments from both multiple direct and indirect sources for his articles."
Almost as soon as the letter was received government ministers were briefed. Detailed discussions took place. On 4 July Dr Kelly was interviewed by his line manager and by Richard Hatfield, the personnel director of the MoD. According to the MoD, Dr Kelly was told to go away for the weekend and "think over his options". He returned to work on 7 July, to more questioning. That day, the foreign affairs committee pronounced that Alastair Campbell was not guilty of "sexing-up" the dossier.
Dr Kelly was told he would have to appear before the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee to discuss his meeting with Mr Gilligan. The meeting would be in camera and Dr Kelly was promised anonymity. But the MoD broke that understanding. Exactly who did is unclear. Lord Hutton will be quizzing, on that subject, Alastair Campbell, Geoff Hoon, Sir Kevin Tebbit, the MoD's most senior civil servant, Richard Hatfield, its personnel chief, and Pam Teare, its head of news. But whoever made the decision, what is clear is that the MoD fixed on a highly unusual strategy of agreeing to "confirm or deny" any guesses put to it by journalists.
On 8 July, Geoff Hoon wrote to Gavyn Davies, the chairman of the BBC, enclosing a statement which the MoD were going to issue that day saying that Mr Gilligan's mole had come forward. He was not to be named, but he was not a senior intelligence source nor was he involved in the preparation of the dossier, as the BBC had claimed. Mr Hoon offered to tell Mr Davies the name "in confidence, on the basis that you would then immediately confirm or deny that this is indeed Mr Gilligan's source". The BBC refused. The MoD issued the statement citing an anonymous official who believed he was Mr Gilligan's source for some of his report. The inference was that the rest was made up.
The emotional temperature rose higher. Tony Blair justified Downing Street's ferocious pursuit of the BBC on the grounds that Andrew Gilligan's allegations were just about "the most serious charge" anyone could level against a Prime Minister. On 9 July, Guto Harri, the BBC political correspondent, spoke of Tony Blair doing "some BBC-bashing."
That day the MoD personnel director wrote to Dr Kelly stating that his "behaviour had fallen well short of the standard he expected from a civil servant of his standing and experience", but that "it would not be appropriate to initiate formal disciplinary proceedings".
His punishment was to be different. The same day Downing Street and MoD officials began leaking details of Dr Kelly's career, designed to assist journalists to identify him. Twowere told Dr Kelly's name.
The pressure on Dr Kelly was growing. He was asked if he wanted to take his wife to Jersey, where a Foreign Office house would be made available. Dr Kelly declined.
On 10 July a number of newspapers named Dr David Kelly as the official behind the Gilligan story. They quoted government sources triumphantly insisting Dr Kelly was a middle-ranking official, not a "senior and credible source", and that he had no access to intelligence briefings - both claims are untrue. They said he had only provided some input for a background section on UN weapons inspections for the dossier, that he was not a member of the intelligence services, had not seen the key material relating to the "45-minute" claim, and was not in a position to know if Downing Street had wanted to "sex-up" the document.
The BBC countered that Dr Kelly was an "intelligence source" in the broadest sense because he knew a lot about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and would have seen secret material. But the BBC still refused to confirm Dr Kelly as its source. That day Dr Kelly, who was holidaying in Cornwall, received a summons to appear before the foreign affairs and the intelligence and security select committees on 15 July.
His appearance at the foreign affairs committee was televised. There, he was read a transcript of the Susan Watts Newsnight interview and said: "I do not recognise those comments." Asked if he had had any conversations with Gavin Hewitt, he replied: "Not that I am aware of, no. I am pretty sure I have not." Questioned on whether he had been critical of Mr Campbell to Mr Gilligan he shifted uncomfortably in his seat and closed his eyes before saying: "I cannot recall using the name Campbell in that context, it does not sound like a thing that I would say."
At the end of the 176-question grilling the Labour-dominated committee concluded that Dr Kelly could not have been the BBC's main source. To many commentators Dr Kelly came across as uneasy and evasive; and we now know at least one of his answers was untrue.
The next day, 16 July, Dr Kelly gave evidence in private to the intelligence and security committee and then, friends and family have since revealed, went home to Oxfordshire, deeply upset and unhappy. Some reports said he felt he had been humiliated by the committee, others that he felt his MoD bosses had put him in an impossible position, others that he was uncomfortable at discrepancies in his testimony.
Something now seems to have snapped for David Kelly. Had he felt - or been told - his performance hadn't been good enough? Did he fear losing his job, or calculate that his family would do better financially if he died in service? Did he fear what Mr Gilligan might say when he reappeared before the foreign affairs committee that day? Might he have learned that the BBC had a tape of his conversation with Susan Watts?
Or might he have felt he had compromised his integrity? The Baha'i faith is strong on veracity; one of its scriptures says: "The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he would rather have his throat cut than tell a lie, or think it easier to be slashed with a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny."
On the face of it everything seemed normal the next morning, 17 July. Dr Kelly, finished a report for the Foreign Office. And though he e-mailed a journalist on The New York Times and wrote of "dark actors" at work around him he sent up-beat e-mails to Alistair Hay, a fellow scientist, and Roger Kingdon. "Hopefully it will soon pass and I can get to Baghdad and get on with the real job," he wrote to Mr Hay. To Mr Kingdon, his co-religionist, he wrote: "I'm hopeful things will be calming down in a week or so and I'll be going back to Baghdad."
He never did. That afternoon at 3pm - almost the exact time Mr Gilligan was again before the foreign affairs committee - David Kelly left home, telling his wife he was going for a walk. He did not return.
Just before midnight his wife alerted the police, and the next morning, 18 July, at 9.20, police found his body at Harrowdown Hill, a few miles away from his home. A post-mortem found the cause of death was bleeding from wounds to his left wrist. The fact that several incisions had been made - and that his watch appeared to have been removed whilst blood was already flowing, together with the removal of his spectacles - suggested suicide, experts said.
Not everyone agreed. Some doctors pointed out that slashing one wrist was an unreliable method of suicide. The fact that four electrocardiogram electrode pads were found on his chest aroused some people to suggestions of murder, though cardiologists said, most likely, Dr Kelly had earlier been wearing a portable monitor to diagnose a possible heart problem.
Two days later, on 20 July, the story took a new twist. The BBC acknowledged that Dr Kelly had been the primary source of its reportr. Andrew Gilligan came under renewed fire. Even if it was true, as seemed clear from the supporting evidence of Susan Watts and Gavin Hewitt that Dr Kelly had strong views about the "45-minute" claim, Mr Gilligan had gone further. He had quoted his source as asserting that "the Government probably knew that the 45 minute figure was wrong even before it decided to put it in". Critics pronounced that "sexed-up" was a phrase more to the taste of Andrew Gilligan than David Kelly.
Mr Gilligan was further damned a week later by a leak of the unpublished transcript of evidence he had given to the foreign affairs committee on his second appearance, after which he had been publicly criticised by Donald Anderson, the chairman. It purported to show that Mr Gilligan had admitted that Dr Kelly had not actually said Mr Campbell had inserted the "45-minutes" claim, but that Mr Gilligan had "inferred" it from their conversation. Mr Gilligan denied this was what he had meant, but it seemed the pressure had now shifted primarily onto the BBC.
Yet the twists were not over. News then broke that Susan Watts' conversation with Dr Kelly had been recorded. Richard Sambrook, the corporation's director of news, was said to have smiled broadly after listening to it. Some insiders said Dr Kelly mentioned Mr Campbell there too. The BBC has refused to say, but has passed the tape to Lord Hutton. Then came an admission from the Ministry of Defence that documents relating to the Government's media strategy on Dr Kelly had almost been incinerated. Unofficial reports suggested the MoD police had been called by a security guard after a senior official was discovered hurriedly shredding material. To cap it all, on the eve of David Kelly's funeral, came the tasteless and preposterous attempt by a senior No 10 official, to suggest that Dr Kelly, the Government's foremost expert on chemical and biological weapons, was a "Walter Mitty" style fantasist.
Yesterday there was yet another turn. It was reported that a two weeks ago, before Dr Kelly's apparent suicide - Sir Kevin Tebbit, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, described the man as "eccentric and unreliable."
He even went so far as to circle the side of his head, a gesture suggesting madness. And he did so at a private dinner with James Robbins, the BBC's diplomatic editor.
The Hutton inquiry takes its first evidence today.
We'll see what remains, when the dust clears... for after all,
'It's a matter of trust'.
Almost a year has passed since Tony’s government issued its first fateful dossier on Iraq's WMD.. Now this was not what became known as the "dodgy dossier"..that one came later.
But, as it happened, the controversy surrounding the first dossier on the threat from Saddam was far more grave, and would be the one with the most far-reaching consiquences.
Dr David Kelly, a former Porton Down scientist and UN weapons inspector in Iraq, was among those involved in compiling it.. having worked for the MoD as an expert on biological warfare for the past four years.
The dossier was published on 24 September 2002... containing the portentous warning that Saddam Hussein had chemical or biological weapons ready to use within 45 minutes of the order being given.
We now know, and in fact those who had worked with Dr. Kelly knew then, that David Kelly was expressing reservations about this core claim. We know this, even before the Hutton Inquiry takes its first evidence today.. because since Dr Kelly's body was found near his Oxfordshire home on 18 July a stream of intriguing new details have emerged.
In October 2002, Dr Kelly gave a slide show and lecture about his experiences as a weapons inspector in Iraq to a small almost private gathering of the Baha'i faith... Dr Kelly had converted to the religion three years earlier, while in New York on attachment to the UN. When he returned to England he became treasurer of the small but influential Baha'i branch in Abingdon near his home.
Roger Kingdon, a member, recalls: "He had no doubt that [the Iraqis] had biological and chemical weapons. It was clear that David Kelly was largely happy with the material in the dossier, but he was not so happy with how the material had been interpreted."
Several months later - the date is unclear - Dr Kelly bumped into Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State and confronted him, a meeting which the politician later claimed to forget.
Exactly what was said will probably never be known. But conversations between Dr Kelly and his friend, Tom Mangold, the television journalist, suggest that while he was broadly supportive of the document's content he was sceptical of the "45-minutes" claim.
"We laughed about that," Mr Mangold said later. "He reminded me it would take the most efficient handlers at least 45 minutes just to pour the chemicals or load the biological agents into the warheads." A precise man, Dr Kelly was irritated by inaccuracy; he believed the dossier exaggerated intelligence for effect.
He said as much on 7 May when he spoke by telephone to Susan Watts, the science editor of BBC2's Newsnight - a conversation which, though he did not know it, she wasrecording. And Dr Kelly voiced the same reservations, it is claimed, when the pivotal meeting in the whole sorry affair occurred - with Andrew Gilligan, the defence correspondent of the Today programme, two weeks later on 22 May.
Seven days after that, on 29 May, Mr Gilligan told the Radio 4 audience, "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the September dossier said the Government probably knew the 45-minute figure was wrong even before it decided to put it in". He quoted him as saying: "Downing Street, a week before publication, ordered it to be sexed-up, to be made more exciting and ordered more facts to be discovered".
The intelligence services were unhappy because the end product did not reflect their considered view.
Later that day another reporter became involved. Gavin Hewitt, working for BBC1's News at Ten O'Clock, rang Dr Kelly in an attempt to substantiate Mr Gilligan's story. Hewitt did not realise he was speaking to Mr Gilligan's source.
Mr Hewitt that night broadcast..
"In the final week before publication some material was taken out and some put in. Some spin from No 10 did come into play." But he also added: "Even so the intelligence community remains convinced weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq."
Two days later Susan Watts phoned Dr Kelly again and discussed the "45-minutes" claim. That Sunday, 1 June, Mr Gilligan wrote a piece in The Mail on Sunday in which he went further than on radio. He said the man responsible for the exaggeration was Alastair Campbell, the Government's director of communications and strategy.
The next night Susan Watts was on Newsnight again. She told viewers she had spoken to a senior official intimately involved with the process of pulling together the dossier. She said: "Our source made clear that in the run-up to publishing the dossier the Government was obsessed with finding intelligence on immediate Iraq threats, and the Government's insistence that the Iraqi threat was 'imminent' was a Downing Street interpretation of intelligence conclusions."
She quoted the source as saying: "While we were agreed on the potential Iraqi threat in the future there was less agreement about the threat the Iraqis posed at the moment. That was the real concern, not so much what they had now but what they would have in the future, but that unfortunately was not expressed strongly in the dossier because that takes the case away for war to a certain extent."
Of the "45-minute" claim, the source added: "It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion. They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information that could be released. That was one that popped up and it was seized on, and it is unfortunate that it was. That is why there is the argument between the Intelligence Services and No 10, because they picked up on it, and once they had picked up on it you cannot pull it back from them."
Looking back there is an interesting additional element. Though the Government issued a rebuttal to Mr Gilligan's original report, that was all. About a week later Tony and Alastair Campbell had dinner with BBC executives, including the editor of Today. They discussed various things, but not the Gilligan affair. The Government, it appeared, became angry in retrospect - on the day of Alastair Campbell's appearance before the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
A fortnight later, on 19 June, Andrew Gilligan gave evidence to the foreign affairs committee. He maintained his line and refused to name his source. The next week, on 25 June, Mr Campbell appeared before the same MPs. He admitted he had been intimately involved in the dossier's presentation, suggesting amendments to the Joint Intelligence Committee - he had even chaired some meetings. But he denied adding material to the dossier. He upped the stakes by demanding an apology from the BBC…
Interesting, said Alice..

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The Hutton Inquiry begins tomorrow morning.
Today, figures have been published, showing the results of a poll that for the first time on seven or more years, have the Tories leadering Labour in popularity.
34 percent of those questioned, believe Tony should resign, and the media seems to be lining up against him..
A senior BBC journalist was told that Tony Blair was "involved" in sending the September Iraq dossier back to the Joint Intelligence Committee to harden up its content. The source of the report is understood not to have been Dr. David Kelly.
The likely existence of an additional intelligence source for the BBC's reports on the disputed Iraq weapons dossier is somewhat convenient.. coming as the Government fights a rearguard action to regain public trust on the eve of the Hutton inquiry.
Andrew Gilligan, the defence correspondent whose 29 May report on Radio 4's Today programme sparked the BBC's ongoing row with Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's director of communications, is to give evidence on Tuesday. He will be followed by Susan Watts, the BBC's science correspondent who has kept a tape recording of her conversation with Dr Kelly, in which he is said to mention Mr Campbell, and special correspondent Gavin Hewitt... News that a fourth BBC journalist, the diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason, had direct contact with a source who underlined the intelligence community's concerns about the Government's use of information on Iraq's alleged WMD programme in the run-up to war strengthens the corporation's hand.
Now.. while all this is going to be going on for quite a while, and quite a number of hands are going to be slapped, the fact remains a man who had, for his entire life, put his trust in his government and his employers, has been removed from the scene, and there are many who still think of the 'dark actors' Dr. Kelly referred to..

Britons have always been travellers. A race who's leasure time has always been spent elsewhere, whenever possible..
It's been an interesting week down at the pub, with our compliant host investing in some patio furniture, so that we regulars can sit in relative comfort while we dissect the world, it's problems, and how our local economy might benefit from a few years of this weather.. 100F for the first time since records have been kept.. only some 130 years or so, but still..
Benedorm without the noise, and with a superfluity of golf courses.. never anywhere on the island more than a couple of hours from the sea..
And we, in this small village, are not alone in our deliberations, or in our choice of forum.. an extra three million pints of beer are expected to be have been downed across Britain over the weekend.

There are currently no water shortages.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Rail delays are to be expected over the next few days across this island, as unprepared for the coming heat as for last winters snow, authorities have decided there's a chance rails could buckle if the trains run at their normal speed..Steve Hounsham of Transport 2000 questioned why the rail network could not cope with "what is, after all, a relatively mild climate".
But Caroline Jones, a spokeswoman for the Rail Passengers Council, said Network Rail could not be criticised for such a safety move.. as long as it did its best to inform passengers...
So, say those who sit and smile in the pub, who never have to rely on British Rail, if you're train is slower, or simply isn't running at all, it's likely for your own good...
And the heat has spoiled many a holiday plan as well, with the Portuguese government declaring a 'State of Public Calamity', with fires burning unexpectedly all over the country. Same in France and Germany..
And nearly obscured by all this natural upheaval, is a news release.. in which Downing Street has distanced itself from a report leaked today, indicating the government saw weapons expert Dr David Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" character.
This was a comment on a story in the Independant, which quoted a "senior Whitehall source" saying Dr Kelly had misled the government and BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan over Iraq's weapons programmes.
While Downing Street fumbled between an initial denial and an eventual grudging revelation that indeed a source within the PM's Office had spoken to the newspaper, a 'spokesman' managed to issue a statement to the effect the previouisly mentioned leak was not to be considered an official government position, and that the remarks might be seen as somewhat out of context.
Paul Waugh, the Independent's deputy political editor, said he stood by his story...
The Hutton Inquiry sits again, in a week.. The problem facing Tony when he returns from holiday, is that aspects of this case will have already been tried in the court of public opinion..
'A matter of trust'.. indeed.

One must take one's chances when one may these days.
Noteworthy is the suicide of Chung Mon-hun, the now former chairman of Hyundai... he'd been implicated with dealings with North Korea before..
And the post in Britain could be disrupted, for the first time in seven years...The CWU has a vote set for it's 160 thousand members, and we could see rotating strikes over the next few weeks..
The focus is still Iraq though, from the pubs to parliament, those involved are marking time..
Never have so many been caused so much discomfort by so few..

Sunday, August 03, 2003

It's a startling move, to say the least..
Tony is to allow Christian organisations and other 'faith groups' a central role in policy-making.. a decisive break with British traditions that religion and government not mix...
Tony, who this weekend becomes the longest continually serving Labour Prime Minister in history, has set up a ministerial working group in the Home Office charged with injecting religious ideas 'across Whitehall'..
Now, this working group will be chaired by the Home Office Minister with responsibility for what is called 'civic renewal', Fiona Mactaggart. The members will include Estelle Morris, the former Education Secretary who is now the Arts Minister, and Christian organisations including the Evangelical Alliance. Known as the Faith Community Liaison Group, it will have an input into controversial policy areas such as faith schools, which are allowed to select their pupils on the basis of their beliefs, and religious discrimination.
There are problems with this, on too many levels to contemplate at one sitting..
It's not without surprise to write that there are those concerned that the Government will fall victim to unfavourable comparisons with the Republican administration in America, where George makes no secret of his religious faith and right-wing religious organisations have a powerful input into policy-making..
Some among the religious communities are calling it 'a blow to secularism' in Britain..
The government has denied reports of a rift with its intelligence chief over Iraq...
Yet as Tony's government continues to deal with the fallout from its use of intelligence in the lead up to war, it has been suggested that the head of MI6 could be retiring due to tension with Downing Street...
Sir Richard Dearlove, will stand down in August 2004, having completed five years in the post known as 'C'.
The Foreign Office confirmed the departure, but said it was normal practice for MI6 chiefs to spend about five years in the position...
It is government policy not to discuss MI6 internal operations, and a successor for Sir Dearlove has yet to be announced...but it's an interesting statement from Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell.. that there was "considerable tension" between Downing Street and the intelligence agencies...but added that it "dates back long before the present controversy" over Iraq.
"In order to re-establish a proper relationship it is almost certainly necessary for the head of MI6 to go," he said.
"Sir Richard Dearlove, who has been a distinguished public servant, is taking the honourable way out."

Saturday, August 02, 2003

A milestone for Tony, and the Labour Party as a whole.
He has overtaken Clement Atlee's 6 years and 92 days, and has become the longest continuously serving Labour government leader. His weekly press conference indicates he wants himself seen as equally as innovative as Atlee was.. he wants history to look well upon him..
But Atlee took over from Churchill, immediately forming the first post-war administration..built housing for families emerging from the rubble of the war, formed the NHS, and introduced the welfare state. There are few who would deny the man changed the face of Britain entirely.
And in many ways Tony Blair has followed in some of Wilson's footsteps. His critics would say most particularly in his move away from traditional, core Labour values.
But Tony clearly hopes he has avoided the failings of the Wilson and, later, Callaghan governments.
Their reputation for economic incompetence hung over Labour probably from the moment Wilson devalued sterling and started talking about the "pound in your pocket and purse".
But, as he marks this point in Labour history, he knows he is facing challenges which could yet spell disaster...his government is being battered on all sides, not only on foreign policy - particularly the war on Iraq - but also on domestic issues such as foundation hospitals and student finance...
His own personal popularity is taking a major battering over spin and the issue of trust..
It seems increasingly clear that the prime minister believes if he is to achieve anything like the transformation of Britain wrought by Attlee, he will need a third full term.. .
These next few months will surely determine whether or not he will get the chance to do so.
Point of interest. The MoD's denying it really meant a dossier of Dr. Kelly's work to be among a batch slated for incineration today..
The papers were noticed, and removed by a guard, who turned them over to his superiors..

The Hutton Inquiry has begun, and the gathering of information which it necessitates. A trying time for some..
Not the least of whom will be Tony, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, along with BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan..
Dr. Kelly's widow is also expected to appear..
While no firm timetable has yet been set, it's expected Lord Hutton will resume his seat on the 11th this month...
Odd, that it had not been previously mentioned, Dr. Kelly was found with 4 EEC pads stuck to his chest..
Herewith, those as released to date, who will be expected to speak their minds..

Tony Blair
Alastair Campbell
Geoff Hoon
BBC chairman Gavyn Davies
BBC defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan
BBC science correspondent Susan Watts
BBC news correspondent Gavin Hewitt
MoD officials
Donald Anderson MP
Ann Taylor MP
Dr Kelly's widow, Janice
Other relevant government officials..

That is the list, as officially released.

Friday, August 01, 2003

The Hutton Inquiry began this morning, with a minute of silence for Dr.David Kelly, and early morning calls for those who will be expected to testify before this court. Not that anyone can be forced to testify before this group, but those who will likely jump at their chance will no doubt include Alastair Campbell, Tony himself, and likely Geoff Hoon. Might even see the name Eliza Mannigham Buller crop up..
And there are a host, who are wondering just what, if anything, they can say, if called...
Meanwhile, seems George's boys have taken the ball in the media game, with David Kay, a weapons inspector and special advisor to the CIA, saying 'surprises' lie ahead. Iraqui scientists are still being debriefed.. and Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said "I think in view of a lot of criticism, I would not be surprised if there is a surprise that would end up changing a lot of people's minds."
A short note referring to yesterday's observations on North Korea. South Korea today says the North will take part in 6-way talks aimed at nuclear disarmament, which ends Pyongyang's insistence it would only deal with the US on the matter.

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