Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry: Truth at last or establishment whitewash?
Massively delayed and hugely controversial, the Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War reports back on July 6. RT examines the background of the UK’s official probe into one of the nation’s most divisive modern crises.
On March 20, 2003, Britain went to war in Iraq alongside its US allies. The nation is still dealing with the fallout from that decision, which saw the country plunged into a protracted war of occupation.
The Chilcot Inquiry began in 2009 at the direction of then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The probe took its name from its chair, former senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot.
The original panel included four other establishment heavyweights: Professor of War Studies Sir Lawrence Freedman, former diplomat Sir Roderic Lyne, cross-bench peer Baroness Usha Prashar, and the late Sir Martin Gilbert – an esteemed Oxford historian who died in 2015 after a long illness.
Scheduled to last for two years, by the time it reports on Wednesday it will have run for seven. The report’s cost to the taxpayer is estimated to be as high as £10 million (US$13 million). It will be over 2.5 million words long.
The inquiry’s remit is to examine the first eight years of the Iraq War, starting with the run-up to hostilities and including the period of the occupation.
The stated aim of the report is to explain “the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned.”
To the chagrin of the Iraq War’s numerous critics, the report panel has no legal power to charge anyone involved.
The investigation began only after years of public clamoring and two smaller inquiries into some of the circumstances surrounding the start of the war.
These were the Hutton Report in January 2004 – which examined the circumstances surrounding the death of UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly – and the Butler Inquiry in July that same year, which looked at the intelligence which had informed the decision to go to war.
The intelligence issue was also investigated by both the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee in 2003. These four investigations were not enough to quell demands for a full public reckoning.
Intense criticism developed over the process of Maxwellization, a rule under which those criticized by the inquiry can see and challenge what is said about them.
The sheer lateness of the report was also a major sticking point. In August 2015, frustrated family members of service personnel killed during the war threatened to sue if a publication date was not set.
Proceedings approached farce in early April when a barrister-led inquiry was launched into the Iraq inquiry’s lateness. With the Chilcot findings out Wednesday, the inquiry-into-the-inquiry has yet to report.
Finally, in October 2015 Chilcot wrote a letter – later widely published – to PM David Cameron, saying that the report would be finished by April 2016 and ready for publication in June or July.
Former British Prime minister Tony Blair might never have to face trial after the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, because he probably committed a crime of aggression rather than a war crime, legal experts say.
Writing in the Guardian, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC argued on Tuesday that despite “engaging” calls from both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish National Party MP Alex Salmond for Blair’s impeachment, the prospect is unlikely.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) warned on Sunday that while Tony Blair would not be prosecuted for war crimes, soldiers on the ground could be.
Now Robertson claims the former premier might have in fact committed a crime of aggression – “a crime against peace.”
Prosecution rules for crimes of aggression will only be finalized next year, and the ICC has no power to litigate against breaches in the UN charter that are not defined as war crimes.
Even once it does regulate on the matter, Blair would still not be brought to The Hague as law is not retroactive.
Some commentators, including Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne, have even suggested Blair knew from the start he would not be prosecuted for his decision to go to war in Iraq.
A defiant Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot, which mauled the ex-prime minister’s reputation and said that at the time of the 2003 invasion Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat”.
Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair described his decision to join the US attack as “the hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision I took in 10 years as British prime minister”.
He said he felt “deeply and sincerely … the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq”.
blair defending the undefendable..bush now joining in..they invaded on a lie and this invasion was prepared for at least a year previously and its part of PNAC..google that..
blair should be in gitmo..with dubya..