Expressing the Iraq memory hole effect

by Andrew Mason

From yesterday’s main opinion page of the print edition of the Daily Express, as quoted from the piece ‘Britain is sinking under the weight of public inquiries’ by political commentator Nigel Burke:

“We’ve had the Hutton, Butler and Chilcott (sic) Inquiries but they can never get to the bottom of something like Iraq, which is bottomless.”

Maybe this reporter has simply lost awareness of the fact that the Iraq Inquiry hasn’t actually reported anything yet, and that SJC and his team are still nowhere near completing and publishing their expected million word final report.

At least Burke also wrote:

“What we get out of today’s inquiries is a very mixed bag. If we hoped to get clarity and closure, we might have to wait a couple of decades until a new inquiry into the inquiry comes along.”

This part, anyway, is relatively true. The downside of all of this is that it now seems that widespread media and (therefore) public awareness of the ongoing nature of the Iraq Inquiry is slowly and steadily disappearing from view.

11 comments to this article

  1. LindaW

    on November 26, 2012 at 11:06 am -

    “… widespread media and (therefore) public awareness of the ongoing nature of the Iraq Inquiry is slowly and steadily disappearing from view” … leaving a poisonous sediment of distrust and contempt for politicians behind.

  2. Anthony Miller

    on November 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm -

    Well to be fair the Leveson Inquiry wasset up on the 13th of July 2011 has managed to sort out the entire Birish Press and published a full report by the 29th of November 2012.

    Yet the Chilcot Inquiry was set up on 30th of July 2009 and has now been running for approximately 3 and half years and shows no sign of reaching any firm conclusions within the next year and a half.

  3. Anthony Miller

    on December 3, 2012 at 11:31 am -

    There’s an interesting article here about the various attempts to citizen’s arrest Tony Blair which are being promoted by George Monbiot.

    Mr Lawley-Wakelin – the bloke who attempted to “citzens arrest” Blair at thte Leveson inquiry has just been fined £100 and and asked to pay £250 costs.

    Classic quote from Mr Rentoul “He has always shown an unusual degree of self-control and has had to deal with this kind of hostility for a long time now. As prime minister, in the run-up to the Iraq war, he went on those TV programmes, as part of what Alastair Campbell called the masochism strategy. You could see the start of it then – the studio audiences treated him with a sort of disrespect that you hadn’t seen for a long time.”

  4. barb bishop

    on December 16, 2012 at 7:16 am -

    A few stats worthy of mention:

    By the time Chilcott report is supposed to be published (assuming it ever is) the Iraqis will have voted democratically:

    3 times national elections and about to go to the polls for their 4th.
    3 times for Iraqi governorates.
    Democratic constitution voted on by the Iraqi people in 2005 will have been in place for 8 years.

    That’s 8 years.

    “Tyrants” Mubarak, Ben Ali, Gaddafhi will have been in oblivion for 2 years.
    Their countries, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya will have become the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Arab countries after Iraq to have democratically elected governments and constitutions.
    “Tyrant” Assad and Syria will have almost certainly been added to that list.

    The “occupation” of Iraq will be 4 years in the past US, 5 for UK.

    Iraqi Digesters will have been on the job for 4 and half years.

    But Stan Rosenthal will still be the Gulag for his sins. Guess that’s a win for the politburo.

  5. andrewsimon

    on December 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm -

    Hello again Barb – welcome back.

    Yeah, the Inquiry is taking a long time – much longer than we ever thought when we embarked on this little project.

    On Iraqi democracy (or the lack of it) – I don’t know if you ever read former ambassador Craig Murray’s blog – it’s always worth a read – but he’s just back from Baghdad.

    I will write on the subject matter of the conference and on the Baghdad experience when I feel a bit stronger. But one thing is for certain – the politicians who peddle the line that, while they may have been wrong about WMD, Iraq is now a haven of freedom and democracy, are telling a most blatant lie. Nothing in the mainstream media conveys the sense of what a total disaster zone Baghdad now is, and I have never been anywhere – not Uzbekistan, not Turkmenistan, not Belarus, not Sierra Leone during the war – that felt less like a free democracy. More detail later.

    Stan’s not in the Gulag – he’s a free man and can do pretty much anything he wants. Apart from post here that is (and we’ve been over the matter of his red card elsewhere so there’s no real point doing that again here). I haven’t noticed him start his own website yet – maybe some of us would visit it if he did – but he still argues away (sometimes quite personally) over on JR’s site from time to time.

    Just for the record, we never did quite suss out where you were coming from in relation to all matters concerning Iraq.

    Feel free to better inform us if you so wish.

  6. chris lamb

    on December 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm -

    The Digest, no doubt, still has some interest in the ongoing Libyan rendition legal case(s) against, amongst others former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw (well known for his skullduggery in the Iraq invasion, and MI6’s Sir Mark Stevens.

    One of the plaintiffs has reached an out of court settlement with the UK government, costing $3.5 million (which the taxpayer must foot).

    With rich irony, the Foreign Office issued a statement denying that any liability was admitted in the rendition. It is impossible not to reach the conclusion, however, that paying out such a huge sum is a tacit admission by the UK government that the case against Straw and Stevens stood a strong chance of being successful in court. The out of court settlement is completely without accountability to the UK taxpayer.

    Paying out huge sums of taxpayers money does not extricate Straw and co. from charges of complicity in breaching international law- as the UK is a signatory to the international anti-torture conventions.

    Indeed, perhaps the criminal investigation into the breaching of these conventions can now surface after being in limbo for two years!?

    Mr Straw is not off the hook yet as Mr Belhadj reportedly rejects any settlement and wants his case heard in open court.

  7. chris lamb

    on December 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm -

    Apologies, Sir Mark Allen of MI6

  8. chris lamb

    on December 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm -

    Barb Bishop may learn something about the parlous state of so-called “democracy” in Iraq from the following article produced by the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace;

    If “democracy” is achieved after struggle in Iraq it will be despite of the US/UK invasion and occupation and not because of it.

  9. chris lamb

    on December 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm -

    An interesting Guardian Comment piece today about the army doctor found guilty of malpractice for not recording or reporting the full extent of Baha Mousa’s injuries which caused his death while under British army detention;

    The key question is whether this doctor was acting under orders in not reporting the injuries inflicted on Mr Mousa and, if so, just high up the chain of command did these orders stem from. To what extet was the legal advice informing the actions of the army over the treatment of detainees responsible for this cover up of the catastrophic mistreatment of Mr Mousa and how far did it extend to other civilian detainees?

  10. Bobm

    on December 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm -

    CL asks “To what extent was the legal advice informing the actions of the army over the treatment of detainees responsible for this cover up of the catastrophic mistreatment of Mr Mousa and how far did it extend to other civilian detainees?”

    The problem wasn’t with the legal advice, but with the refusal of senior officers to accept the advice they were given. Heath’s government had long since ordained that abusive practices inflicted by the army on prisoners in Northern Ireland were unacceptable. One has to wonder what people were being taught at Sandhurst, subsequently.

  11. chris lamb

    on December 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm -

    Bobm, you are right about the legal position prior to the Iraq invasion, but the legal waters were very much muddied when the invasion happened as indicated by this Independent story which first appeared in 2007-

    Lord Goldsmith subsequently strongly denied that his Office was responsible for legal advice which watered down legal obligations under the UK Human Rights Act and ECHR. He appeared to blame any legal anomalies in the treatment of civilian detainees on the MOD’s PJHQ.