17 August 2003
It is instructive as well as fascinating to follow the convoluted trail of disinformation and hyperbole in the government and the media’s attempts to transfer the blame from one individual to another in the agenda of diverting attention from the central issue, namely why we went to war.
All manner of ‘experts’ both former and current, have popped out of the woodwork, each in their own way, reinforcing the myth of a state bureaucracy, going about its day-to-day business in what is presented to us, as a disinterested and neutral approach to the affairs of state. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
We are asked to believe that an employee of the state, who amongst other functions, was specifically tasked with the job of liaising with the media, and who had innumerable conversations and meetings with members of the press over a long period of time, could not be identified as the source of ‘leaks.’ This, in spite of the fact that the kinds of inside information he passed on to the BBC reporters, could only have had a limited number of sources.
Moreover, we are also asked to accept that he was ‘forced’ to give false evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee by high-ranking members of the government, specifically Geoff Hoon, the minister of defence.
As I pointed out in a previous piece, serious strategic errors were committed by the propaganda machine of the Blah government, which required extensive damage control, even if it meant sacrificing Dr Kelly’s professional career. But who could have foreseen his drastic response? A response which added yet another problem for the ruling political class to deal with.
Once it was clear that it was going to be very difficult to avoid the awful truth (that Kelly had inadvertently revealed the struggle between the professional civil servants and Blah’s propaganda department over how best to sell the war), the civil servants obviously backed their own man, Kelly. However, they were overridden by the politicians who were concerned that their dissembling would be revealed. A ‘fall guy’ had to be found and who better than the man who inadvertently blew the government’s story?
Sir Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD (an extremely powerful position in the state bureaucracy as all permanent secretaries are), motivated for Kelly to be interviewed in a private session before the Intelligence and Security Committee, from which the flow of information could be controlled, when he said in a letter to Hoon:
“The line may not be sustainable… But I think it is worth a try at least.”
Geoff Hoon, realising the government was on a hiding to nowhere, had no choice but to parade Kelly in public and Kelly was obviously instructed to deny, deny, deny, and even though the chief of Intelligence, Martin Howard denied that he had prepped Kelly, the facts told a different story. A note from the Intelligence department says:
“DCDI…will brief David Kelly…and will strongly recommend that Kelly is not drawn on his account of the dossier”
But of course (conveniently), Dr Kelly is not around to give his side of the story, though it’s doubtful it would be any different from the ‘official’ account.
The central issue still remains, which in spite of the reams of press coverage, is still not being presented to the public for what it is – that the government desperate to rationalise its commitment to war, needed something ‘dramatic’ to back up its case.
Heads will roll
The additional issue of how far ‘up’ the chain of command leading to 10 Downing Street the affair eventually goes, at worst could lead to some heads rolling (number one on the list is most likely Geoff Hoon’s). It’s even possible that Blah himself could be sacrificed if push comes to shove.
But let’s face it, these individuals are of no real consequence, anymore than the fate of Dr David Kelly was. The ruling political class has much more pressing issues to deal with than the fate of individuals; that of preserving the integrity of the political system and the citizens’ trust in it. A trust that has already been seriously eroded by the endless lies that have been rolled out by a government that has committed (and still does) the cardinal sin of taking the citizens for nothing more than complete fools. Fools who can be manipulated at will by people besotted with their self-importance and a total belief in their own omnipotence.
The dominant media, as anxious as the political class is to maintain the fiction of a government that is fundamentally trustworthy, have by and large played their part in loyally backing the government, even as they go through the motions of ‘investigating’ who ordered the ‘sexing up’ of the dossier.
And of course, if it’s necessary to restore trust in the system, they will no doubt play their part in calling for a ritual sacrifice. Indeed, the BBC and some sections of the press are already suggesting, even before the Hutton enquiry has finished its deliberations, that Geoff Hoon will be the likely candidate for a public ‘flaying’ and fall from grace (or as they put it, “falling on his own sword”).
As I revealed in ‘Ducks and Drakes’ anyone who wants to know what the real deal is, needs to read the Economist’s lead story of this past week (Manifest Destiny Warmed Up?), which in the unashamedly cold-blooded language of the ruling elite, lays out the issues and the objectives of the Anglo-Saxon Empire and what needs to be done to assure to continued existence of the ‘capitalist way of life’.