Iraq: Flawed, selective, distorted and mistaken? Selling the big lie By William Bowles

13 September 2003

How the government’s never-ending stream of propaganda and the complicity of the media has sold a giant lie to the public over the reasons for the invasion of Iraq and continues to do so even as the lies become ever more outrageous and brazen

About the only thing the media won’t entertain is the idea that invading Iraq was always the basis of Blair’s policy and that all the squirming and changes of justification flow from this basic premise. How else does one describe the way the media worms its way through the mire and deliberately avoids the lies and instead focuses on anything vague and indeterminate?

The latest document to hit the street, the report of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that attempts to ‘put the record straight’, just further obscures the issues. But as predicted, Hoon the erstwhile Secretary of State for Defence [sic] looks as if he is going to be the fall guy for the entire propaganda disaster.

There are now so many layers to the story, that the original justification for the invasion, the Niger Yellowcake, the 45 minutes, the ‘imminent threat’, the ‘sexing up’ and so forth and so on, have all but disappeared to be replaced by – wait for it – that Hoon ‘misled’ the committee by not reporting the fact that invading Iraq would “heighten” the chances of a ‘terrorist’ attack on the UK.

So in one fell swoop, all the original propaganda has been swept aside. My head’s spinning from all this garbage and not surprisingly, the mass media, almost without exception, has gone along with this latest piece of disinformation.

  • The report claims that Downing Street didn’t “sex up” the dossier thus getting Campbell and co off the hook. Closer examination reveals that the report doesn’t actually state how, in spite of all the documentary evidence to the contrary submitted to the Hutton Inquiry.
  • The faked Niger yellowcake documents are neatly sidestepped by referring to some other source, not disclosed of course. The report simply sidesteps the issue.
  • The 45 minute claim has now been miraculously transformed, so that it is claimed it actually referred to “battlefield munitions” but that conveniently, these two words were omitted from the September 2002 dossier. Again, nobody is blamed for this.

As I write, various government mouthpieces now put out the lie that the ‘real’ reason for the invasion was to stop WMDs falling into the hands of ‘rogue states’ and Al-Qu’eda terrorists. These two bogies have been merged in yet another sleight of hand. That no WMDS have actually been found is of course central to this latest claim but this of course, is also conveniently not mentioned.

Close analysis of all the ‘evidence’ also reveals that MI6 was the main source of the disinformation on both the Niger fakes and the 45 minute fiasco. One assumes that the ‘concerns’ of the MoD’s intelligence officers were voiced in order to protect themselves just in case the entire sorry affair was exposed.

Overall, what all the ‘investigations’ reveal about the workings of government is that the ‘club’ backs its own by actually not coming to any conclusions worth speaking about at all, aside that is from dumping on Jeff Hoon. After all, somebody is going to have pay for the cockup and you can bet it’s not going to be Tony Blair or the buffoon Jack Straw. What is vital, is that the questions must not be traced back to Blair’s neo-imperialist policy and everything we read reinforces this basic objective.

And what does the corporate press make of this pathetic attempt to justify the unjustifiable?

The Independent’s editorial (12/09/03) opened with the following amazing and totally incredulous statement:

“It should be a relief to all to accept that the infamous Government dossier on Saddam’s Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was not sexed up. It was a crass and foolish phrase.”

So now it’s the BBC’s fault? Any notion that Dr David Kelly deliberately slipped the phrase “sexed up” to the BBC journo is of course, not referred to. Note how the focus is shifted from the government’s lies onto a single report by a journalist. Instead the editorial sums up the entire, disgusting process as follows:

On the overall case for war? The dossier was “unbalanced” and it was “unfortunate” that the dossier failed to emphasise the fact that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the UK. Unfortunate? Who are these people who write such garbage and how do they justify the invasion and occupation of a sovereign state to the fact that it was “unfortunate” that the fact that Saddam presented no threat to the UK was ‘overlooked’? Well the Independent’s solution to this problem is simple, it doesn’t. Well isn’t that unfortunate.

On the 45 minute claim? The dossier was “unhelpful”. The mind boggles at the language that a deliberate deception is dismissed by the apologists for war as being “unhelpful”.

Instead, the editorial thinks the most important fact to emerge from all the verbiage is:

“What matters is that Mr Hoon withheld from the committee evidence of disquiet within the intelligence services over the dossier.”

Again, the buck is passed from one source of disinformation to another. The ball is passed back and forth between the government and the intelligence services and in the process, the reasons disappear. Lies become disquiet, and we the public are treated as fools as if we can’t spot the difference.

It goes on to say that:

“[T]he dossier was a flawed pretext for war.”

So the use of faked documents, unsubstantiated claims and outright scaremongering is reduced to that of a “flawed pretext for war”? Once more, the use of language belies the reality. My thesaurus gives the following definitions for ‘flawed’: broken, imperfect, unintelligible and incoherent.

Does the editor of the Independent sit up all night digging through his thesaurus looking for words that will obscure the reality? (Obscure: unclear, indefinable, ambiguous, double-edged, shadowy, doubtful, cryptic and double-faced.) Obviously he did because the editorial sums up the entire process as follows:

“However, the overwhelming impression given by their report is that the basis on which Mr Blair led the nation to war was selective, distorted and mistaken. But not sexed up.”

  • Distorted: deformed, crooked, askew, contorted, awry, disfigured, misshapen, twisted.

And not full of lies? So what are we to make of this so-called analysis? What comes over loud and clear is the obvious complicity between the media and the state in covering up the lies and deception. How else does one describe the Independent’s description of the reasons for going to war as “selective, distorted and mistaken” without once mentioning the word lie? This is collusion of the worst kind whereby the relationship between the corporate press and the state is revealed as a comfortable marriage between consummate liars who will go to almost any length in order to preserve the status quo.

The last thing the state and the media want at this critical period is any fundamental questioning of government policy. To do so would undermine the entire rationale not only for going to war but for continuing to support Bush’s neo-imperialist agenda, especially as it unravels in the most unseemly manner. Moreover, if future ‘adventures’ are to be pursued then there can be no questioning of government policy at its most fundamental level, that of the fictitious ‘war on terror’ which underpins the entire rationale for Blair’s policy.

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