A former top civil servant at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday spoke of the "crisis period" when Mr Brown as Chancellor slashed military spending six months after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The numbers of Armed Forces personnel and civil servants were also reduced.
The above is from the Yorkshire Post's "Budget cuts hit defence projects, Iraq inquiry told" and they're focusing on Kevin Tebbit's testimony. He was among those offering testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in London and they hold their next public hearing on Monday. And the Inquiry's actually making people uncomfortable. For example, Deborah Orr throws a tantrum in text. What's going on there?
She's far from the only one stomping their feet but she's one of the few I'll link to. What's going on isn't the Inquiry itself. It's too early to tell whether it will have any impact of great signficance (via findings -- in terms of gathering public testimony, I believe it's already had an impact). But the elections are coming! The elections are coming! And at the Guardian -- New Labour's party organ -- you can see the split as they attempt to cover it and rush to denounce it repeatedly over and over.
Tony Blair could hurt the elections! These revelations could hurt the Labour Party!!!!!
Orr needs to grow the hell up. Gordon Brown has harmed the Labour Party and if he had any persepctive and/or decency, he would have resigned early last summer. He would have done that so that Labour could install a new prime minister and rid itself -- months and months before the election -- of the taint of Brown and Tony Blair. Gordon's tanked the party. Maybe they'll pull it out, maybe they won't. But the Inquiry is just putting a public face on what people suspected or already knew.
There's no need for a tantrum aimed at the Inquiry for being 'hard hitting.' David Hencke (still the Guardian) offers a more balanced appraisal:
While all the main witnesses and the inquiry team under Sir John Chilcot have unfettered access to the key classified information inside the 40,000 documents so far made available, the public is being rationed with limited fare released only with the agreement of the main Whitehall departments involved.
The situation has arisen because Chilcot, foolishly in my view, has signed a protocol with the Cabinet Office that effectively gives Whitehall the last word on the documents the public are allowed to see. The document, on the Cabinet Office website, was signed, I believe, with honourable intentions to give a framework, based on the government's own interpretation of the freedom of information act, to which documents should be released.
In doing this, Chilcot has given away his independence by allowing the Cabinet Secretariat the final say in any dispute between the inquiry and the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, attorney general's department and the Cabinet Office itself over which documents can be released.Neil Berry (Al Arabiya News Channel) offers this take:
The objective of the Chilcot inquiry is to examine how Britain came to be involved in the Iraq war and identify what lessons may be learned. The official hope is that it will achieve “closure” by demonstrating to the British public and the wider world, and not least to the grieving relatives of dead British servicemen, that, however unhappy its consequences, Britain undertook military action in good faith. What is now overwhelmingly apparent, following Blair’s testimony before the inquiry and the testimonies of fellow politicians, diplomats and civil servants, is that “closure” is not in prospect.
For many in the Arab world, its very personnel is bound to make it hard to respect the inquiry’s bona fides. The fact is that two of its five members, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, are Jews who supported the war. Yet the question of the propriety of including two such figures without any corresponding representation of the Arab point of view can hardly be raised in Britain without inviting the charge of anti-Semitism. The BBC reported that Sir Martin Gilbert told an online Israeli settlement radio station of his hurt at being named as a Jew by “anti-Semite” writing in British newspapers. Gilbert was referring among others to the former British diplomat, Sir Oliver Miles, whose manifest concern was not with Gilbert’s Jewishness but the counterproductive consequences of including Jewish supporters of the war in the panel of an inquiry that is surely meant to command international respect. Not that you would have understood Miles’ qualms from the BBC’s tendentious report.
While Orr tries to bury her head in the sand, others aren't so willing and Tony Blair's testimony from last Friday remains in the news. Rob Merrick (Northern Echo) writes:
Instead, I find myself coming back to the notorious "45-minute" claim, which was so crucial in persuading the public, and Labour MPs, that Saddam was a threat to Britain.
On Friday, Mr Blair admitted the claim referred to battlefield weapons -- not missiles that could be fired abroad -- but insisted he had not known that in September 2002 when the dossier was published.
He told the inquiry, airily, that he "didn’t focus on it a great deal at the time" -- arguing it was of little significance.
Yet, contrary to Mr Blair’s insistence that the dossier was "dull and cautious", the headlines screamed "Brits 45 Mins From Doom" and "45 Minutes From Attack".
Robin Cook -- who resigned over the war -- revealed he was briefed by John Scarlett, the intelligence chief responsible for the dossier, that the weapons were for battlefield use only, and not capable of "mass destruction".
Someone needs to tell Deborah Orr it's not all about an election. This Is Somerset notes, "Relatives of Radstock soldier Corporal Gordon Pritchard, pictured -- who was the 100th serviceman to die in the Iraq war -- say they are disgusted that former Prime Minister Tony Blair did not say sorry or that he regretted the loss of life when he appeared at the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war last week. The 31-year-old soldier who lived in Radstock with his wife Julie-Ann and their three children, was killed by a roadside bomb on January 31, 2006." Clare Short testified on Tuesday and Information Clearing House has posted video.
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We'll note the opening to a major article, Ned Parker's "An Iraqi woman's taste of freedom turns sour" (Los Angeles Times):
In jail, Sarah had imagined herself sitting on Oprah's stage. The talk show host would listen sympathetically to the Iraqi widow's story. The audience would applaud as she told how she had made hardened militants cry while she helped grill them for the U.S. military. They would know, despite the rumors, that she had never betrayed the Americans.
Now that she was free, Sarah concentrated on a letter: "In the name of God, Dear Oprah, peace be upon you," she typed. "I'm sure you're going to be a little surprised because a lady from Iraq is writing to you, a woman from America. When I was in jail, I decided to . . . tell [you] my entire story with the American Army in Iraq."
She no longer looked like the woman in the photos from her Army days -- her auburn hair pulled back, wearing the fatigues, bulletproof vest and wraparound sunglasses that made Iraqis mistake her for a man. On the street, no one would guess that the 40-year-old mother of two teenage boys had been a scourge of Shiite death squads, or that she no longer trusts the Americans who once needed her.
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