Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 19, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

DOES "PERSONALLY MASTERMINDED" MEAN THE SAME THING AS "SEXED UP"?....In Britain, anyone who is criticized in an inquiry apparently has the right to see an advance draft and provide a response before it's published. So, since the Butler inquiry criticized Tony Blair, Tony Blair got to see it ten days before it was released. And according to the Telegraph, changes were obligingly made:

In the original draft a passage on page 114 contained stronger criticism of Mr Blair's Commons statement of September 24, 2002. The report as published stated...."The Prime Minister's description, in his statement to the House of Commons on the day of publication of the dossier, of the picture painted by the intelligence services in the dossier as 'extensive, detailed and authoritative', may have reinforced this impression [that the intelligence was better than it was]."

In the original draft this last sentence was much stronger, expressing the opinion that Mr Blair personally masterminded the misleading impression left by the dossier. The passage is important because Downing Street maintained last week that the report at no point questions Mr Blair's "good faith".

The Telegraph's source also reports that Lord Butler was not exactly planning to stand foursquare behind Blair during his post-publication press conference if anyone asked if he thought Blair should resign:

"It was not his job to bring down the Government," the inquiry member said. "But he was not going to back Blair either."

The deliberately equivocal answer Lord Butler had prepared which in the end he did not have to deliver because the question was not asked would have stood in conspicuous contrast to his explicit request in his report that John Scarlett, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, should not have to step down from his new post as head of MI6.

You'd think someone would have thought to ask that, wouldn't you?

Kevin Drum 8:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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