Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Trouble already

The Independent reports that senior military figures are already criticising the secret Iraq inquiry and pointing out that the purpose is to protect politicians, not national secrecy.

General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the Army during the Iraq invasion, said: "I would have no problem at all in giving my evidence in public." He said Mr Brown's decision that the proceedings be held in private fed "the climate of suspicion and scepticism about government", adding that the Prime Minister ought to consider requiring witnesses to give evidence on oath.

"I do not see why it could not have gone for a halfway house with sessions in public and then having private hearings when it comes to intelligence," said General Jackson.

Air Marshal Sir John Walker, the former head of Defence Intelligence, said: "There is only one reason that the inquiry is being heard in private and that is to protect past and present members of this Government. There are 179 reasons why the military want the truth to be out on what happened over Iraq."

As a former deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir John was asked for advice by members of the Defence Intelligence Service unhappy at the way the "dodgy dossier" on weapons of mass destruction was being put together. "We have worrying questions about how intelligence was ramped up to suit Tony Blair and his cronies and their reasoning for invasion," he said. "There is no reason why intelligence officials alone should have to carry the can for this. If there is anything particularly secret – and God knows there is precious little left secret over Iraq – then that can be heard in camera."

There is more trouble ahead with the Tories planning a Commons vote on the issue next week.

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