Friday, December 04, 2009

A whitewash

At the moment the UK government is having another inquiry into the Iraq war, which is being sold as finally getting to the truth about Blair's lies. But it turns out that the inquiry is not all its cracked up to be, with the government able to withhold key documents if it is not in the "public interest" to disclose them:

Gordon Brown has been accused of “muzzling” the Iraq inquiry after refusing to alter rules that allow Government departments to withhold crucial documents from the public.

Concerns over the agreement were raised by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, during Prime Minister’s Questions last week. But in a letter written to Mr Clegg, seen by The Independent, Mr Brown has ruled out any changes to an agreement that effectively gives Whitehall the final say over which documents it will release.

The protocol agreed between the inquiry team and the Government lists nine areas in which departments can veto the publication of documents handed to the investigation. Any disagreements between Sir John Chilcot, the chairman of the inquiry, and the Government will be resolved by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell.

So, on issues the government finds sensitive, the inquiry will not actually be able to inquire. Which makes it simply a whitewash.

Update: More at Index on Censorship:

A week into the Chilcot Inquiry, the government’s witnesses are doing their best to present a sanitised version of how Britain went to war and the inquiry is doing its best to make it possible. The inquiry is either unwilling or able to publish the evidence that would challenge the witnesses’ version of events. Neither is it able to quote from this evidence. The government has control not only over what the inquiry can publish but what questions it can ask. In the absence of real evidence, leaked documents are once more making the running.
Well, you wouldn't want an inquiry that could actually inquire, would you? that might result in people being held to account - the very last thing anyone in the UK political establishment wants...