by Chris Ames
Tony Blair is apparently already at the Inquiry. The papers this morning are full of wishful thinking. As far as the promised tougher questions are concerned, and the evidence, I suggest that we will believe it when we see it.
The Financial Times (subscription) says that:
Tony Blair has been served scores of searching and detailed questions ahead of his second appearance at the Iraq inquiry on Friday, in an indication of the more forensic approach expected at the hearing.
Scores of these questions have been sent to Mr Blair ahead of the hearing – an attempt to elicit some more precise answers from a formidable public speaker whose “big picture” responses last year infuriated some panel members.
One Whitehall source familiar with the inquiry predicted the tone would “certainly” be different. “They’re going for him this time,” he said. “It is going to be much tougher.”
In the Daily Mail, a Mac cartoon has Blair saying: “I promise to tell the truth, the edited truth and nothing harmful to me about the truth…”, which is very pertinent in the light of this week’s developments and Blair’s own admission that he deliberately gave at least on incomplete answer last time.
The Guardian’s leader, to which I should declare a small contribution, strongly disagrees with the decision, which seems to go back to Blair, to prevent the panel publishing and quoting from Blair’s promises to George Bush:
Secrecy makes the committee’s tough task tougher. But they have read the papers and so must exploit them in their questions, following the forensic lead Sir Roderic Lyne has given on a panel that lacks legal expertise. Why, for instance, does one still-secret paper reportedly record Mr Blair agreeing with Mr Bush that he did not need a second UN resolution, at a moment when London’s official position remained that one was necessary? And why were any promises made at all while parliament was still being told that no decision had been taken?
The answers today will deploy rhetoric about the war being a decision, and not a deceit. The questions must move beyond it, and interrogate the real possibility that it was in both.