Thom has written a guest article for British newspaper The Guardian regarding the Hutton report, which (shockingly) cleared Tony Blair of any wrongdoing whatsoever, while lambasting the BBC for claiming that Blair wanted intelligence reports “sexed up”. It’s a good one, and it is posted in its entirety below.
This theatre of the absurd
Campbell hounded the BBC for simply doing its job.
When the Hutton report arrived this week, I expected Geoff Hoon to have to resign. I expected, at the very least, a grovelling apology from Tony Blair. I had been looking forward to this for months.
Instead, I have had to stomach the gloating and moralising of Blair, Hoon and Alastair Campbell as the establishment of this godforsaken country closes ranks to protect itself, its intelligence services and the oh so wonderful MoD.
Lord Hutton’s damning report of the BBC is a whitewash. The result will create fear at the Today programme, where there should be pride. As so many times before, they were there with a story that nobody else would touch. And I still cannot see why Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke have had to resign. It flies in the face of reality, ripping all evidence to shreds.
This is a theatre of the absurd. It has left everybody I know shaking their heads in disbelief and anger. Such a performance should make us all deeply nervous about the future of Britain. While Blair wishes to draw a line under the whole episode, I hope this doesn’t happen. Sometimes a story will end up being told, no matter how many times they try to close the book.
I am staring at a photo of Campbell at the foot of some grand stairs, mewing and preaching about truth. An unelected, unanswerable force who was willing to destroy the integrity of others and make their lives unbearable to save his skin and that of his masters.
As Andrew Gilligan submitted to Hutton, why was the BBC singled out when other media reports questioned the intelligence as well? Why did Campbell suddenly give disproportionate attention to the Today programme’s story, after weeks of hoping it would go away?
Campbell needed to deflect attention from an issue that stood to bring down the government. He had been told to construct a truth that would justify a “pre-emptive” war against international law, while voices in the wings were whispering “lies”. His response was unforgivable. He deliberately went on the offensive, choosing his favourite soft target, one that had dared to go beyond the embedded reporting of the war to show it in a less than flattering light.
Campbell himself chose to become the story, using his indignation at such a slur on the government’s “integrity”, and so avoiding the substance of the accusation itself.
He now claims the BBC, from the top down, did not tell the truth. In what way? It didn’t check out the story? It seems, sir, your little story about WMD didn’t check out either. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him after this sustained attack on his integrity? Nobody cares about his integrity; they just want to know why we went to war against international law on weak single-source intelligence.
And are we supposed to feel sorry for Blair? He has made a very dangerous political mistake which endangers global stability and has sent thousands to their deaths. He tells us that he will be judged by his maker. Well, he certainly wasn’t judged by Hutton, was he?
It was entirely in the public interest to question the construction of this intelligence report, even if done rather shakily at 6.07am. That is what public service broadcasting should be about, serving no proprietor, not controlled by the state, and addressing the concerns of those who pay for its existence. This is exactly what the Today programme did in this instance. So where was the mistake?
You can read the entire article, and a lot more about this mess (for our U.S. readers, don’t forget that Bush isn’t the only one with egg on his face regarding the Iraq thing…Blair was standing right there with him) over at the Guardian’s website.
(Thanks to Mike.)