The Nation owes a debt to Chris Ames, author, editor, writer and one-man investigator at the website Iraq Inquiry Digest. Unfortunately, the Nation is too busy, distracted, thick or uncaring to notice what’s really going on behind the scenes at Chilcot. So I thought some wider dissemination of Chris’s work would do no harm. Not that he needs any help from me – but if nothing else (having only ten days ago hoist Chilcot himself onto the spike of non-disclosure) Ames has now began to cast yet more doubt on the so-called ‘reason’ for going to war in Iraq….and also put Miliband in the dock on the issue of his latest disavowal of Tony Blair.
David Miliband, you will recall, is the Foreign Secretary who told us all he’d have no truck with torture – and then moved heaven and earth to get any evidence about that torture suppressed. At the weekend, the man who says he’ll back your leadership plot (and then hides behind the sofa) told the media, “Britain would not have invaded Iraq in 2003 if it had been clear Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction”.
This cack-handed lie is a pathetic attempt to attract new LibDem adherents currently surging for Clegg. But it takes Chris Ames to dig out some serious contradiction of Miliband’s line in Ron Suskind’s book The Way of the World. OK, fair enough – Suskind’s tract emanates from the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, and thus has a fairly obvious agenda. But the book alleges that very senior Intelligence contacts admitted to Suskind how both US and UK intelligence services (and almost certainly Blair and Bush themselves) knew perfectly well that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction – and was mainly pretending to have them as protection against future Iranian aggression.
Richard Dearlove, head of British Intelligence from 1999 to 2004 told Suskind that he had travelled to Washington, and briefed the Americans personally on what the head of Iraqi intelligence had told his agent Michael Shipster: that Saddam had no WMD at all. Dearlove allegedly told Suskind:
“The problem was the Cheney crowd was in too much of a hurry, really. Bush never resisted them quite strongly enough … Yes, it was probably too late, I imagine for Cheney … I’m not sure it was too late for Bush … I don’t think it was too late for Bush”.
Dick Ckeney’s perfidy in these and other matters has been well-documented elsewhere. Meanwhile, Chris Ames quite rightly asks ‘Has [Dearlove] not been invited to appear? Has he refused to do so? Has the Secret Intelligence Service refused him permission to testify? We simply do not know. But there is a gaping whole in the record which the Chilcot Committee is busily compiling as long as it hasn’t heard from the head of the Secret Intelligence Service’.
There is indeed. A black hole, perhaps, in which infinite numbers of secrets can be hidden.