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Whitewash in the UK

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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Lord Hutton Blesses Blair s Attack on BBC s
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      Lord Hutton Blesses Blair's Attack on BBC's Investigation Of Iraq War
      Claims
      By Greg Palast
      palast@...
      1-29-4

      He did not say, "hello," or even his name, just left a one-word
      message: "Whitewash."

      It came from an embattled journalist whispering from inside the
      bowels of a television and radio station under siege, on a small
      island off the coast of Ireland: from BBC London.

      And another call, from a colleague at the Guardian: "The future of
      British journalism is very bleak."

      However, the future for fake and farcical war propaganda is quite
      bright indeed. Today, Lord Hutton issued his report that followed an
      inquiry revealing the Blair government's manipulation of intelligence
      to claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass murder threatening
      immanent attack on London.

      Based on the Blair government's claim, headlines pumped the war
      hysteria: SADDAM COULD HAVE NUCLEAR BOMB IN YEAR, screeched the
      London Times. BRITS 45 MINS FROM DOOM, shrieked the Sun newspaper.

      Given these facts only a sissy pacifist, a lunatic or a Saddam fellow
      traveler would fail to see that Prime Minister "Winston" Blair had no
      choice but to re-conquer it's former Mesopotamian colony.

      But these headline were, in fact, false, and deadly so. Unlike
      America's press puppies, BBC reporters thought it their duty to check
      out these life or death claims. Reporters Andrew Gilligan and Susan
      Watts contacted a crucial source, Britain's and the United Nation's
      top weapons inspector. He told reporter Watts that the Weapons of
      Mass Destruction claims by Blair and our own President Bush
      were, "all spin." Gilligan went further, reporting that this spin,
      this "sexed up" version of intelligence, was the result of
      interventions by Blair's PR henchman, Alistair Campbell.

      Whatever reading of the source's statements, it was clear that
      intelligence experts had deep misgivings about the strength of the
      evidence for war.

      The source? Dr. David Kelly. To save itself after the reports by
      Gilligan and Watts, the government, including the Prime Minister
      himself, went on an internal crusade to out the name of its own
      intelligence operative so it could then discredit the news items.

      Publishing the name of an intelligence advisor is serious stuff. In
      the USA, a special criminal prosecutor is now scouring the White
      House to find the person who publicly named a CIA agent. If found,
      the Bushite leaker faces jail time.

      Blair's government was not so crude as to give out Dr. Kelly's name.
      Rather, they hit on a subterfuge of dropping clues then allowing
      reporters to play '20 questions' - if Kelly's name were guessed,
      they'd confirm it. Only the thickest reporters (I name none here)
      failed after more than a couple tries.

      Dr. Kelly, who had been proposed for knighthood was named, harangued
      and his career destroyed by the outing. He then took his own life.

      But today is not a day of mourning at 10 Downing Street, rather a day
      of self-congratulations.

      There were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear warhead just
      short of completion, no "45 minutes to doom" bombs auguring a new
      London blitz. The exile group which supplied this raw claim now calls
      the 45 minute story, "a crock of shit."

      Yet Blair's minions are proclaiming their vindication.

      This is not just a story about what is happening "over there" in the
      United Kingdom. This we must remember: David Kelly was not only
      advisor to the British but to the UN and, by extension, the expert
      for George W. Bush. Our commander-in-chief leaped to adopt the Boogey
      Man WMD stories from the Blair government when our own CIA was
      reticent.

      So M'Lord Hutton has killed the messenger: the BBC. Should the
      reporter Gilligan have used more cautious terms? Some criticism is
      fair. But the extraordinary import of his and Watts' story is
      forgotten: our two governments bent the information then hunted down
      the questioners.

      And now the second invasion of the Iraq war proceeds: the conquest of
      the British Broadcasting Corporation. Until now, this quasi-
      governmental outlet has refused to play Izvestia to any prime
      minister, Labour or Tory.

      As of today, the independence of the most independent major network
      on this planet is under attack. Blair's government is "cleared" and
      now arrogantly sport their kill, the head of Gavyn Davies, BBC's
      chief, who resigned today.

      "The bleak future for British journalism" portends darkness for
      journalists everywhere - the threat to the last great open platform
      for hard investigative reporting. And frankly, it's a worrisome day
      for me. I'm not a disinterested by-stander. My most important
      investigations, all but banned from US airwaves, were developed and
      broadcast by BBC Newsnight, reporter Watts' program.

      Will an iron curtain descend on the news? Before dawn today, I was
      reading Churchill's words to the French command in the hours before
      as the Panzers breached the defenses of Paris. Churchill told those
      preparing to surrender, "Whatever you may do, we shall fight on
      forever and ever and ever." This may yet be British journalism's
      Finest Hour.
      *****
      Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best
      Democracy Money Can Buy. His reports for BBC Newsnight and The
      Guardian papers and other writings may be viewed at
      www.GregPalast.com.
      *****
      Join Greg, Janeane Garafalo, Tom Tomorrow, and others for the
      launching of the Greg Palast Non-Profit Investigative Foundation and
      Release of his new CD from Alternative Tentacles, "Greg Palast,
      Weapon of Mass Instruction - Live and Uncensored." For more details
      on the party check out: http://www.gregpalast.com/store.htm

      *****

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk

      56% Of British -
      'Hutton Report A Whitewash'
      By George Jones, Tom Leonard and Matt Born
      The Telegraph - UK
      1-29-4

      A majority of voters thinks the Hutton report on events leading to
      the death of Dr David Kelly is a "whitewash", a YouGov poll for The
      Telegraph says today.

      The public expressed doubts about the report's one-sided verdict,
      which savaged the BBC while exonerating the Government, as Tony Blair
      claimed a second scalp with the resignation of Greg Dyke, the BBC's
      director-general. He also secured an "unreserved" apology from the
      corporation's governors.

      The survey found that 56 per cent of people interviewed said Lord
      Hutton, as a member of the Establishment, was too ready to sympathise
      with the Government.

      Only 34 per cent thought his report represented a thorough and
      impartial attempt to discover the truth about Dr Kelly's death.

      After the BBC suffered the most traumatic 24 hours in its history,
      the poll shows that the corporation is still trusted more than the
      Government.

      YouGov found that 67 per cent trust BBC news journalists to tell the
      truth, compared with 31 per cent who trust the Government.

      The finding is a blow to the Prime Minister, who had hoped that the
      report would enable him to rebuild trust, badly damaged by the
      controversy over the Iraq conflict.

      He called a halt to his eight-month war with the BBC after what
      amounted to an unconditional surrender by the corporation's board.

      Sir Christopher Bland, a former BBC chairman, said Lord Hutton had
      whitewashed the Government and "tarred and feathered the BBC".

      Lord Rees-Mogg, a former vice-chairman of the BBC board, said the
      report was a "bad bit of work". Clare Short, who resigned from the
      Cabinet over the war, described it as "completely one-sided".

      Mr Dyke resigned after Downing Street and Alastair Campbell, Mr
      Blair's former communications chief, pressed for more heads to roll
      at the BBC.

      Officials made clear that Mr Blair was not satisfied with the
      resignation of Gavyn Davies, the chairman of governors, or a
      qualified apology issued by Mr Dyke immediately after Lord Hutton had
      criticised the BBC's management from top to bottom.

      Mr Dyke offered his resignation to the governors on Wednesday but
      was "disappointed" when they made clear that they would accept it.

      After Mr Dyke announced that he was going, Lord Ryder, the
      corporation's acting chairman and a former Tory MP, said: "On behalf
      of the BBC I have no hesitation in apologising unreservedly for our
      errors and to the individuals whose reputations were affected by
      them."

      There were emotional scenes at the BBC Television Centre when he said
      farewell and staff around the country staged protests. In an email to
      employees, he confirmed that he did not want to go but acknowledged
      that the BBC needed a new start. He urged staff not to be cowed and
      said his aim had been to defend the corporation's editorial
      independence.

      Interviewed later, he said he did not regret backing Andrew
      Gilligan's report that led to the whole affair by accusing the
      Government of "sexing up" its dossier on Iraq's weapons. But he
      admitted "it was not as accurate in places as it should have been".

      Mr Dyke, who was criticised as a Labour "crony" when he was appointed
      four years ago, said he felt justified in "going to the barricades
      because [Mr Campbell] attacked us for having an anti-war agenda and
      accused many of the BBC's journalists of being liars".

      Welcoming the BBC's apology, Mr Blair said that all he had ever
      wanted was the withdrawal of the serious accusation of deceit and
      duplicity made against him.

      He fully respected the BBC's independence. "I have no doubt that the
      BBC will continue as it should do to probe and question the
      Government in every proper way. What this does now is allow us to
      draw a line and move on."

      Downing Street said Mr Blair regarded Mr Davies and Mr Dyke
      as "honourable and decent men who had done the decent and honourable
      thing".

      Mr Campbell, who launched an intemperate attack on the BBC after
      being accused of "sexing up" the Iraq weapons dossier, accepted that
      the affair was over. All he had wanted was the stain on his character
      removed, he said.

      The departure of the BBC's two top executives has left it rudderless
      as it prepares to renegotiate the renewal of its charter. No 10 said
      it hoped to appoint a new chairman of governors by Easter and that
      the post would be advertised.

      A new director-general will then be appointed by the governors. Mark
      Byford, the deputy director-general, will step in temporarily.

      Richard Sambrook, who had been expected to go, will keep his job as
      the head of news, his staff were told.

      *****

      Judge Who Cleared Blair, Blamed BBC Accused Of Whitewash
      1-29-4

      LONDON (AFP) -- The judge who probed the suicide of arms expert David
      Kelly was accused of a "whitewash" by much of Britain's daily press
      for clearing Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of wrongdoing
      while rebuking the BBC.

      The rightwing Daily Mail said that judge Brian Hutton's long-awaited
      verdict, delivered Wednesday, had attracted "widespread incredulity."

      "Justice?" the paper asked in a front page headline. It said Hutton's
      report "does a great disservice to the British people. It fails to
      set its story in the context of the BBC's huge virtues and the
      government's sore vices."

      The British Broadcasting Corporation was plunged into turmoil, with
      its chairman Gavyn Davies resigning, after Hutton severely criticised
      the world's biggest public broadcaster.

      The judge said that a BBC radio report claiming that the government
      deliberately exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass
      destruction before the US-led invasion on March 20 last year
      was "unfounded".

      "We're faced with the wretched spectacle of the BBC chairman
      resigning while Alastair Campbell crows from the summit of his
      dungill. Does this verdict, my lord, serve the real interest of
      truth?" asked the Daily Mail.

      Campbell is Blair's former communications director and one of the
      principal figures in a bitter row between the government and the BBC
      during which Kelly took his own life last July.

      In a comment piece for the leftwing Daily Mirror tabloid, journalist
      Paul Routledge accused Hutton of an "establishment whitewash"
      which "stinks to high heaven".

      Hutton's judgement "makes me feel physically sick, like a victim of a
      crime who knows that justice will never be done", said Routledge.

      The Mirror said that the BBC had been left "shamed", but the
      narrowness of Hutton's remit during his inquiry "meant that the real
      issue -- the existence of weapons of mass destruction -- wasn't even
      touched on".

      "Hutton's whitewash leaves questions unanswered" said the rightwing
      Daily Express, referring to issues such as whether the government was
      right to enter the war given that "there are no weapons of mass
      destruction in Iraq, let alone anything to suggest Saddam Hussein
      could have launched a deadly attack in just 45 minutes, or even 45
      days."

      In a controversial report last May, BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan
      claimed the government had "sexed up" a September 2002 dossier on
      Iraq by claiming that Baghdad could deploy chemical weapons within 45
      minutes.

      In a striking front-page article, with a white space left where
      normally a photograph would appear, the Indepenedent asked Thursday
      if the Hutton report was an "establishment whitewash".

      The paper called Hutton's conclusions "curiously unbalanced", and
      said they had strengthened the case for an "independent inquiry into
      the intelligence failures that took this country to an unjustifiable
      war."

      The leftwing Guardian said that Gilligan "got more right than he got
      wrong" in his reporting, adding that the BBC should now ensure "there
      is no collective failure of nerve in the corporation".

      "BBC jouralists must go on probing, must go on asking awkward
      questions -- and must go on causing trouble," the Guardian urged.

      It added that Hutton's report had a "certain naivety of tone and
      approach".

      The government may have been cleared over Kelly's death, "but that
      does not mean it was honest about Iraq. It was entitled to Hutton's
      narrow vindication, but it still has a lot to prove."

      Like much of the press, the Financial Times said the BBC had been
      plunged into the most serious crisis of its 80-year history by a
      report from Hutton that took the political world by surprise in its
      sweeping vindication of the government.

      The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Sun, all rightwing papers,
      called for BBC director general Greg Dyke to follow in the footsteps
      of chairman Gavyn Davies and resign.

      Many dailies agreed that Hutton had exposed serious failings within
      the BBC, with the Sun saying he had put the spotlight on the
      broadcaster's "culture of sloppiness, incompetence and arrogance".
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