Telegraph claims further delay

by Chris Ames

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that:

Families of soldiers killed in Iraq reacted with dismay yesterday after it emerged that Sir John Chilcot’s report into the war has been hit by yet more delays after objections over declassifying Tony Blair’s private messages.

It’s another story that links delay with the issue of the government refusing to allow documents to be published but without making it entirely clear what the connection is. Here’s the core of the story:

Sources close to the Inquiry have told The Daily Telegraph that Sir John and the Cabinet Office are still deadlocked over some of the documents.

“The big issue still remains the inquiry’s belief that it should be able to publish documents that the Cabinet Office is still withholding,” said one source.

“Sir John is hoping to send letters out to people next summer to invite their responses to any criticisms he might intend to include in his report.

“Their responses could take weeks or months to come back, then the inquiry will have to consider whether it needs to change the wording of the report in the light of their responses.

The Telegraph also notes that:

The Cabinet Office has still not disclosed a secret document relating to discussions between George Bush and Tony Blair over the Iraq war, nine months after it was ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner.

The account is a bit confused but it appears that this is the story it is following up.

The last word here should go to Reg Keys, who sums up what most of us are probably thinking by now:

“The report was supposed to be published in 2011, when it was still a very hot potato, but by the time we eventually see it people might think it was all a long time ago and it doesn’t really matter any more.”

7 comments to this article

  1. Anthony Miller

    on December 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm -

    Humm … “Sir John is hoping to send letters out to people next summer” …. Sir John seems to be going for a world record for the longest time to compose a letter or something. That said at least he seems to be sticking to his guns and refusing to be publishing the report without the evidence to back it up or otherwise… which really would be stupid. That said again …how long did it take Leveson to do his Salmon letters and swat away the replies like flies …? The alacrity of the one process makes the sedentary nature of the Iraq Inquiry look slightly silly.

    Also I’m not entirely convinced there’s a huge difference between the Iraq Inquiry and the Cabinet office. Must have been fun interviewing Julian Miller of the JIC knowing that Julian Miller seems to holds the poisoned challice of deciding which documents are excempt from the Freedom of Information Act under Section 27 for example …

    Also at least one Inquiry board member (Lawrence Freedman) was on one of the red team at KCL for independently reviewing the pre-war assessments. Which is also where Emma Sky and General “pants down” Petraeus and his bit of fluff hang out.

    I’m not insinuating any of these people are directly in cahoots or even particularly immoral, naughty or conflicted but the more one reads of the transcripts the more it becomes clear that actually this is all a very small world.

    Sir John, for example, was some sort of shop steward type “staff counsellor” person to MI6 in days gone by … perhaps that’s why he was selected for this …erhm … very delicate job …of basically trying to rebuild trust between the security services and the government.

  2. Bobm

    on December 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm -

    Leveson was in the happy position of being able to heap condemnation on the press without fear of contradiction whilst virtually ignoring the role of the police and politicians; and competition policy. Given that his “letters” were largely incontestable in content, [the police and politicians amazed that they were getting such an easy ride], he was able to wrap things up at speed.
    Leveson has accordingly been accused of a whitewash by parties as diverse as the Daily Mail [Max Hastings], the Socialist Worker and Craig Murray.
    However, Chilcot has not had such an easy task. Comparisons between Leveson and Chilcot are very instructive but not, perhaps, conclusive.

  3. chris lamb

    on January 1, 2013 at 8:38 am -

    With regard to the as yet unpublished Bush and Blair correspondence, here is a piece from Guardian Comment going back a couple of years picking up on what appeared in Andrew Rawnsley’s book ‘The End of the Party’:

    This has probably been seen before in the Digest, but the longer the Inquiry does not report the more in danger we are of going round in (ever decreasing?) circles.

  4. Anthony Miller

    on January 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm -

    “Leveson has accordingly been accused of a whitewash…”

    Well, let’s say I found it interesting that while Paul McMullan told Hugh Grant in a secretly taped “off the record” interview that “20 per cent of the Met has taken backhanders from tabloid hacks. So why would they want to open up that can of worms?… And what’s wrong with that, anyway? It doesn’t hurt anyone particularly.” … Lord Leveson managed to conclude that there was virtually no police corruption at all …just a few cock ups by John Yates who’s conveniently retired anyway. Hummmmm………

  5. John Bone

    on January 4, 2013 at 11:59 am -

    Perhaps the invasion of Iraq raises issues that are too difficult to discuss in polite society. Perhaps the only way to explore them is through fiction.

    One of the authors, Kevin Powers, said

    “It is a story about making a promise that you cannot keep; promises made in a quick way. Someone who wants to be good but finds it difficult and does not understand the ramifications of what they have done.”

    He’s talking about one soldier’s promise to another but it could be Blair’s promise to Bush.

  6. LindaW

    on January 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm -

    Re “Perhaps the invasion of Iraq raises issues that are too difficult to discuss in polite society” … I agree these issues aren’t being discussed, let alone resolved but we’ll HAVE to tackle them eventually. They remain toxic until they’re resolved in a court of law.

    The Iraq war in my view showed the then Prime Minister consciously misleading and manipulating his Cabinet and Parliament – and a contemptibly ineffective Cabinet and Parliament allowing that to happen. It showed a supine press cheerleading us into a war most British people did not want and tried to prevent. It showed government wilfully misleading the general public and ignoring their opposition.

    The aftermath of the war showed just how incompetent the UK government was; having invaded their country as the US’s junior partner, it did damn all to protect and assist ordinary Iraquis (even in its own sphere of influence).

    We paid c. £8 billion tax-payers’ money to fund this war and helped to cause around 100,000 Iraqui deaths (according to the “Lancet”)plus the deaths of our own armed forces.

    Iraq doesn’t appear to be any better off than it was under Sadaam Hussein and the main beneficiaries of all these terrible costs seem to be a few American contractors.

    We can’t let the Iraq war just be forgotten about. There must be some reputable legal jurisdiction somewhere (the ICC or a national court) that can try and convict those responsible for starting a war of aggression.

  7. chris lamb

    on January 12, 2013 at 8:51 am -

    Linda is absolutely right. The legal remedy which must be forthcoming is essential, however, not just for the 100,000 plus Iraqi civilian dead and the US/UK military casualties of a ‘war of aggression’, but also for the future integrity and effectiveness of the UN Charter (which is all we have to safeguard international peace and security).

    The Iraq invasion drove a coach and horses through this Charter, substantially weakening the requirement of powerful states to comply with it. In the current context of complex and significantly greater dangers to international peace and security presented by Syria and the threat of pre-emptive strikes on Iran, the full strength and effectiveness of the UN Charter needs to be reasserted. This cannot be done without bringing to account those responsible for the Iraq invasion. Let’s hope that Chilcot understands that.