[email protected]: Norman Baker – Iraq war inquiry is essential

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has a letter published in today’s Guardian demanding an immediate and full inquiry into the Iraq war, which the Government has said will happen ‘as soon as possible’ after 31st July:

It is welcome that Carne Ross reminds us (March 20) that intelligence available to the government before the invasion of Iraq made it “very clear” that Saddam was not a threat, but it’s hardly a revelation. The confidential Downing Street minute from 23 July 2002 records Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, telling the meeting of senior ministers and officials that the case for war against Iraq was “thin” and that “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran”. Straw went on: “We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.”

This was the background for the following nine months, when the alleged threat of WMD was hyped up, and Tony Blair went round pretending he was trying to avoid war, when in reality he was already firmly committed to it. This is all set out at length in my book on the death of David Kelly. The surprise, rather, is that those responsible for an illegal war and for deliberately misleading parliament have so far got away with it scot-free. A full wide-ranging and genuinely independent inquiry into all aspects of the Iraq war is essential, not least to ensure that the cynical, destructive and unconstitutional practices of figures senior in government at the time can never be allowed to happen again.
Norman Baker MP
Lib Dem, Lewes

Norman’s message is echoed in a statement issued today by Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Edward Davey:

The Labour Government and Conservative party must not be allowed to stitch up the British public with the kind of narrow and secretive inquiry which would suit them both. To be effective, this inquiry cannot sit in private and must be as open and transparent as possible. It must focus primarily on the political decisions – and failures – that led to this catastrophic war, rather than the military ones. And it must be wide-ranging enough to look at all the shortcomings in Government and across Parliament which allowed the Iraq war to happen.

“While the Liberal Democrats opposed this illegal and immoral war, the Tories failed in their duty as an opposition party by voting for it. We cannot afford another whitewash like the Hutton report if we are to have any hope of restoring British democracy’s reputation at home and across the world.”

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