Whitewash in the UK
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Editor, The Konformist
Lord Hutton Blesses Blair's Attack on BBC's Investigation Of Iraq War
By Greg Palast
He did not say, "hello," or even his name, just left a one-word
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
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
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
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
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
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
56% Of British -
'Hutton Report A Whitewash'
By George Jones, Tom Leonard and Matt Born
The Telegraph - UK
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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".